[Story]What's type branding?

Type branding

Text contain Culture. Fonts contain Branding.

Fonts refer to a set of uniformly and consistently designed characters. Essentially, they are characters with the primary function of "information delivery." However, the "information delivery" of fonts does not only refer to the meanings of the characters. Fonts can embody various forms depending on the user's intent. For example, using a decorative font for the title of a medieval-themed movie or using a font designed to resemble melting glaciers to appeal for climate change. Fonts are a means of conveying multi-dimensional information beyond mere meaning.

Scholars who study characters use the expression "Text is a vessel for culture." This is because text fosters cultural development, and culture naturally permeates text in the process. Fonts share the same context. However, fonts are developed considering various perspectives, encapsulating a more multi-dimensional culture. In the font industry, this is referred to as type branding*.
*Depending on the subject, it is called type branding, typographic branding, or font branding, but at Sandoll, it is referred to as type branding.

타입브랜딩은 문자로 문화를 만든다

Writing Culture with Handwriting: LUSH

A notable example of type branding is the cosmetic brand LUSH. LUSH promotes keywords such as "environmentally friendly," "animal protection," and "human rights improvement," and conducts various campaigns based on these principles. Reflecting this, LUSH’s proprietary font, "Lush Handwritten," conveys the culture they aim to promote with the distinctive, free-spirited impression of handwriting.
 *「Lush Handwritten」 was developed in collaboration between LUSH's global director Katie Tabram and Dalton Maag. 

러쉬 전용 폰트

러쉬 전용 폰트

러쉬 전용 폰트Dalton Maag (link)

An interesting aspect of LUSH from a type branding perspective is that in LUSH stores worldwide, the blackboards (product description cards) are handwritten by the store employees. LUSH regularly trains their Visual Merchandising Designers (VMDs) in the LUSH handwriting style to achieve this. If it were simply for consistent design, they wouldn’t need to insist on handwriting. So why do they go through the trouble of sticking to handwriting?

The values and direction a brand aims for, which can be referred to as its culture, are not something that can be instantly understood through teaching. This kind of knowledge often requires time or experience. LUSH's insistence on handwriting seems to be an intentional effort to make both internal and external stakeholders experience the brand's message through the medium of text.

These handwritten signs are displayed throughout LUSH stores, creating an experience of the text. The blackboards do more than just describe the products; they convey multi-dimensional information such as "environmentally friendly" and "handmade," which wouldn’t have been delivered if they were just plain text. This is possible because the LUSH handwriting style embodies the culture that LUSH pursues.

러쉬 손글씨

러쉬 손글씨Workman: LUSH Episode (link)

The most important task in branding is to convey the brand's identity. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure that customers distinctly recognize and differentiate it from other brands. From a branding perspective, LUSH is a brand that excels in this regard. When we think of LUSH, we don't just think of the products or prices. We also think of various keywords and the authenticity associated with naturalism and other values. At the foundation of these brand activities is the influence of text imbued with LUSH's culture, known as type branding.

Why Are There So Many “Texts” at Baemin?

When looking at examples of type branding in South Korea, Baemin is likely to come to mind first. Baemin is a familiar delivery platform to everyone, with a distinct culture that sets it apart from other brands. Through bold and humorous activities such as TV commercials, the Baemin Literary Contest, and the Baemin Chimelier Certification Exam, Baemin has established an identity known as "B-grade culture." Its pleasant and relatable "corporate cultur(link)e" has also become a topic of interest among office workers.

When examining "Baemin-ness," which refers to Baemin's unique culture, one can always find the presence of "texts." For a company like Baemin, developing and distributing fonts might have been a natural course of action.

배민 신춘문예

배민 폰트

Woowa Brothers (link)

The various fonts created by Baemin are often cited as prime examples of font marketing and branding. They demonstrate how well-designed fonts can be an effective tool for brand promotion. This also provides insight into how Baemin seeks to strengthen its identity—its "culture"—through text.

In the headquarters of Woowa Brothers, the company that operates Baemin, interesting "texts" can be found everywhere. The meeting rooms are named after employees' children, reflecting the intention to "do nothing shameful in front of one's family." The wobbly letters on the meeting room signs are the children's own handwriting. In a similar vein, Baemin's first font, "Baemin Hannah," was named after the daughter of CEO Kim Bongjin. Accordingly, the font "Baemin Hannah is eleven years old" was updated when Hannah turned eleven, aptly reflecting her age at the time.

배민 오피스투어 폰트

배민 오피스투어 폰트[Woowa Brothers] "Office Tour: Where Do You Work?" (link)


「Hanina is Eleven」 by Woowa Brothers (link)

When examining the phrases scattered throughout their headquarters, there is no doubt that Baemin actively employs text as a means to shape their internal culture. In this context, I would like to discuss "Baemin Euljiro Font," which was an attempt to encapsulate "culture" rather than just practicality.

Baemin described the purpose behind Euljiro Font as follows: "It felt like the old signboards of Euljiro captured the passage of time right there. So, we wanted to tell the story through the font, depicting the marks of time after 1 year, 2 years." The theme of "marks of time" aims to symbolize their commitment to long-term service with customers, which connects back to the phrase seen in their meeting rooms, "Do nothing shameful in front of one's family." Baemin strives to be a brand that is both friendly and enduring, leaving behind "marks of time" that their families can be proud of.



Type branding encompasses all branding activities that unfold through fonts as a medium. Branding involves establishing the values and identity of a brand against the backdrop of its corporate philosophy. In simple terms, it is the act of imprinting the identity of the brand.

I believe the reason why Baemin's series of fonts are always well-received is rooted in this culture. Beyond simply "distributing stylish fonts for free," they resonate on a cultural level by conveying a sense of "Baemin-ness."

Type branding is rooted in culture

Type branding refers to all branding activities that unfold through fonts as a medium. Branding involves establishing the values and identity of a brand against the backdrop of its corporate philosophy. Simply put, it is the process of imprinting the identity of the brand. Therefore, branding demands unique values exclusive to the brand and distinctive appeal that sets it apart from competitors. From this perspective, type branding focuses on the keyword "culture." Culture denotes the unique qualities manifested within a community. Just as individual uniqueness is expressed as personality, the uniqueness of a community is articulated as culture.

Personality or culture are intangible aspects. Hence, they are not easily explained and often not fully understood without direct experience. The frequent use of the term "experience" in branding reflects this context. As seen in the cases of LUSH and Baemin earlier, type branding encapsulates the culture of a brand, making it experiential. This allows individuals to encounter a brand in ways that would not have been tangible otherwise.