How E-Commerce is Reviving Artistic Typography in Advertising

Kitch typography in a snapdeal.com ad

Kitch typography in a snapdeal.com ad

An unlikely category, but I think it’s the shop-window phenomenon that’s responsible.

FlipKart, SnapDeal, Myntra, they’re all selling the same stuff. And saying the same stuff (XX% off, Great Deals). The only way they can differentiate themselves is by typography and colour.

Multiple brands on a YouTube ad for Myntra.com

Multiple brands on a YouTube ad for Myntra.com

The Retro-Typography Revival

There’s no one brand colour or custom typeface (they’re all selling multiple brands), so colour and type can finally strive, unrestrained, to achieve a Commercial Artist’s original purpose, which is to have a party and make stuff look delicious, digging like a child in the drawers of graphic design’s musty cupboard of influences.

Modern renditions of decorative motifs like ribbons

Modern renditions of decorative motifs like ribbons and stylized borders

And given that Art Deco, Commercial Art’s most flamboyant period, was driven by a similar gusto, (they had just shed the stifling ‘simplicity’ baggage of the Bauhaus) and went on to stick it to the Germans with decorative motifs, extreme thick-thin contrasts, and Cassandre’s stylized illustrations, it’s no wonder that Myntra’s ads often draw inspiration from this period in form and spirit.

Big Discounts = Big Beautiful Typography = Happy Designers

The clients want it! There’s finally a point of collusion between the suits and designers, in that the numbers need to be big and beautiful. Finally designers can play those old no.7 tricks they love, contrasting BIG numerals and with a teeny-weeny percentage glyphs and ‘now upto’  and ‘off’.

Old style numerals. Notice the teeny-weeny 'o' with the line under it.

Old style numerals. Notice the teeny-weeny ‘o’ with the line under it.

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Conclusion

Retro revival is a wave taking place in graphic design presently, and it’s driven by various things, a rejection of Apple’s skeuomorphism, HTML 5’s capabilities in rendering type, its responsive capability (necessitating stylised graphics to compensate for the flat colours) and great screen resolutions, among other things.

But to have the revival enter the advertising world, saddled with corporate typefaces? That’s a breath of fresh air.

Enter designers. Finally!

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