What Is Kinetic Typography?

Kinetic typography

Lately it seems that kinetic typography is everywhere. From TV commercials to music videos (it should come as no surprise that Kanye West was all over the trend back in 2009) and even some of our favorite web landing pages, splashy lettering is making a, well, splash, on visual communications campaigns nationwide.

But what makes kinetic typography so impactful? Why are we drawn to it? And why are so many brands and associations turning to it to enhance their marketing campaigns right now?

Allow us to break down the dynamics of kinetic typography.

What Is Kinetic Typography?

Kinetic typography is a type of graphic animation technique that uses moving type—dancing, fluctuating, eye-catching letters, if you will—to hammer home a message.

Customized to each client and need, the effect of kinetic typography can be drawn out and intensive or subtle, adding a pop of intrigue to an otherwise “normal video.”

Why Did Kinetic Typography Just Explode on the Scene?

Kinetic typography is actually not new. Rather, it’s an old trend that has seen periods of popularity since the 1950s.

It originated, of all places, on the big screen, when it was used by Alfred Hitchcock in his 1959 film “North by Northwest.” He used it in the film’s opening credits, a technique that’s been replicated frequently throughout movie history:

Then, in 2009, Pepsi launched their “Refresh Everything” campaign, using movable type to introduce a new logo, and brought the technique to ad campaigns:

It’s since been used by everyone from Ford Motor Company in 2010 to Apple in 2014 to deliver important branding messages in a way that feels fresh and creative and also manages to capture an increasingly brief attention span being inundated with messaging. And lately, it’s experiencing a resurgence of interest, especially as companies and associations grapple with the best way to share their messages across social media channels where videos are watched, more and more often, without sound.

What Can Kinetic Typography Do for My Organization?

To put it bluntly: Kinetic typography can make content that’s somewhat dry or heavy feel more energized and a lot more interesting. If you have to run a campaign around something like safety (as in the case of Ford), or an idea that’s slightly abstract (like with Apple), kinetic typography can be just the trick to clearly share your message while keeping an audience engaged.

Kinetic typography also works alongside increasingly popular documentary-style videos (one of our big trends for 2018). When an interview subject gives you that perfect, succinct quote, kinetic typography is a great tool for pulling it out and adding emphasis.

And, as we mentioned, kinetic typography is a great option for groups creating content that will be shared socially. Sure, you can add subtitles to a dynamic video. But you can also create a video that's intended to be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another platform that will make a big impact with lettering.

Lastly, kinetic typography adds an element of artistry and visual interest to videos that could otherwise appear straightforward or flat. And for organizations that are charging forward and launching new initiatives, that’s the last way you want to be perceived.

So What Does Kinetic Typography Look Like in Practice?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s an example of a national TV spot we produced for the National Retail Federation using kinetic typography.

The goal of the campaign was to battle the narrative that retail sales were dwindling, and retail wasn’t a great industry to be in—even though the industry was actually boasting economic growth and community contributions. Here, kinetic typography helped reinforce a positive and non-defensive message about an industry in flux:


Is kinetic typography a tool your organization would benefit from in 2018 or beyond? Get in touch with a member of our team now to start brainstorming ways to take your communications campaigns to the next level.

Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear from you!

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