How an Apt Logo's Font Can Appeal to Millennials

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Are basic, simple fonts what wins the day for Millennials?

Traditional, legacy serif fonts are not winning the day among Millennials, according to The Cut online magazine.

It writes, “Millennials Have Killed the Serif,” scolding the many fashion labels that have “fallen into the pit of Helvetica;” begging that a brand steps forward with something different and interesting. Among the examples: Balmain, Berluti, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga.

Most young residents probably can’t afford those brands, but they do get bombarded by logos (and fonts) all day long—including when apartment shopping.

From a branding/cultural perspective, Kim Ziereis, Brand Strategy, Après Creative Group, can see why Millennials have not embraced serif fonts.

“This generation has been born and raised on some lovely sans serif branded identities such as Target, Hulu, Xbox, Starbucks, Nordstrom and most anything that comes from Silicon Valley,” Ziereis says.

“And, they have watched some pretty big tech influencers make the shift away from serif fonts: Apple adopted Myriad in 2003 when the first iPod was introduced; Google ditched its serif font in 2015 in favor of a clean, geometric font.”

Après does creative design for commercial real estate firms, including Mill Creek Residential.

“Millennials are familiar with sans serif brands, which, in a way, serve as a security blanket—because it’s all they know,” Ziereis says. “And it’s true of rental housing owners, operators and developers who are branding (or rebranding) their communities to target the Millennial demographic. The clean lines and simplicity of sans serif fonts tend to complement the modern design aesthetics put into the buildings. When we introduce a serif font into our logo presentations, the consistent feedback we receive is that it feels dated. This is totally understandable when you think of brands that are rich in tradition and legacy such as Ralph Lauren—it’s a beautiful serif font, but you immediately think of classic and traditional versus modern and hip, which a majority of the rental housing industry is focused on today.”

Millennial consumer Erika J. Davidoff, a student at Rutgers University, says, typographically speaking, the reason there has been a big shift to sans serif during the past 10 to 15 years is because sans serif fonts are optimal for reading on a screen, particularly because they are more legible at smaller point sizes than serif fonts.

“Serif fonts are optimized for printed body text on a page,” she says. “As a result, san serif fonts have become emblematic of technology and modernity, whereas serif fonts feel more traditional and classic. Guess which appeals more to the typical 20 to 30-year-old?”

There is a massive trend now, especially in logo design, of using clean simple lines and basic shapes as much as possible. This comes directly after the 2010-ish peak of the skeuomorphic, gradient-heavy logo aesthetic. This probably changes during the next 10 years and the trend moves to something closer to the more ornate, “vintage” look (original Apple and Starbucks logos).

But don’t totally write-off serif fonts and Millennials, Ziereis says. “Some of Millennials’ favorite places have embraced the beauty of a serif font,” she says. “WeWork uses a bold, all-lower-case serif font and we are hard-pressed to think of a more Millennial place for employment. Whole Foods has also stuck with its serif font while providing the best coconut waters and macronutrients to the Millennial generation.”