How do you pick one thing to represent an entire city? It’s difficult. No matter what you do, you will inevitably leave something out. But you press on and make your case. This is how the Movoto bloggers felt while we were working on our latest project. We were trying to distill the essence of a city into a font. It was a lot like taking a single picture of a city and saying it represented the entirety of the locale.
But like we said above, we studied our chosen cities and made a case for each font choice.
Before we get into the details, we’ll explain our process.
How We Did It
This project was a team effort. We banded together to pick some of the Movoto staffers’ favorite cities from across the country. Once we had picked 10 diverse cities, we researched each locale to come up with several adjectives we thought best described them. After completing this daunting task (yes, it was more difficult than we initially thought), we scoured the Internet for various fonts that, in our opinions, represented the adjectives.
Here’s what we came up with:
New York, NY
New York is known for many things, but chief among them is its leading position in both the fashion and business world. This helped guide our choice of font to Vow. This font is thin and tall, just like all those fabulous runway models. It is also non-handwritten, which we think marks it as business-like. Adjectives we chose were: Fashionable, tall, urban.
When we saw Thirsty Rough, we immediately knew this was the font for Chicago. Why the “rough” version rather than just Thirsty Script? Chicago is an industrial city, and the roughness of Thirsty Rough speaks to Chicago’s history as a source of great architecture and industry. The retro feel harkens back to the heyday of Chicago’s architectural genius. Adjectives: Tough, windy, strong.
Phoenix is hot and bright, so it comes as no surprise that it’s nickname is “The Valley of the Sun.” It’s also the sixth largest city in the U.S., and the urban feel of Sketchetik Light reminded us of large cities. Adjectives: Sunny, hot, resilient.
Home of one of the most storied football programs in the country, Columbus is a tried and true football city. But it’s also known as one of the smartest cities, thanks in large part to Ohio State University. Yearbook Outline exemplifies both of these characteristics. Adjectives: Smart, sporty, young.
Boise is known for its trees, giving it a direct connection to nature that most cities lack. We picked Singela because the font conjures Boise’s healthy and laid-back lifestyle. Adjective: Lush, healthy, frisky.
The home of the blues, Memphis is in touch with its own nature. It’s also down-to-earth and—some would say—scruffy. Scrubby is a fluid font that fits Memphis perfectly. Adjectives: Spiritual, dirty, fluid.
Charleston is a city with a deep history, and as a Southern city it goes without saying that people here are polite. It’s also hip. We chose the handwritten-on-parchment font Ishia Antiqua as a throwback to its colonial days. We’re sure the hipsters would enjoy the irony of choosing a digital font that looks like it was written with ink and quill.
Kansas City, MO
We chose a nice, thick slab serif for Kansas City because of the city’s famous BBQ. There’s just something about The Black Bureau font that makes our mouths water with thoughts of sticky BBQ ribs. Adjectives: Tranquil, sticky, bureaucratic.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco was an easy choice: Mission Script. For those not familiar with the area, the Mission District is one the hippest areas in San Fran, filled with unique shops and restaurants. We felt the font was trendy and stylish, just like the city. Adjectives: Foggy, techy, trendy.
The Abraham Lincoln font is a patriotic-feeling font that highlights Philadelphia’s historic heritage. It was the first capital of the United States, and we thought the font’s name added to the experience. Adjectives: Historic, patriotic, stately.
Who Said What?
Knowing that fonts can get some people riled up, we reached out to a design professional in each city to get their opinion. And, um, we had some luck, though unsurprisingly not everyone contacted us back. It’s okay, though, these guys and gals are busy professionals; no hard feelings.
Nick Seguin, from Dynamit, a design firm based in Columbus, Ohio, (thanks, Nick) thought that it might have been more beneficial to focus on fonts that some major cities are already known for. For example, he pointed to New York City and “The New Yorker.”
“When I see that font, I instantly see New York,” he wrote in an email to us.
In the case of Columbus, he thought a font more closely related to the Ohio State University (pretty much the lifeblood of Cow-town), might have worked best.
If you feel up to the challenge, pick a city and let us know what font you think best fits the metro. We’re still racking our brains to figure out what city would get the honor (dishonor?) of Comic Sans.