By Im Cheah
(Creative Direction)
Posted On 16th March 2015

I recently played an online game called KERNTYPE (yes, it’s kinda like a geeky game for art people). It’s a game where the mission is to achieve pleasant and readable text by distributing the space between letters. This activity is also known as “kerning”.


Many people are oblivious to kerning. They think with new age desktop publishing softwares like Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Word, all ads or publication of any kind should look awesome with a click of a button.


Esurance had a bit of an un-kerning run-in when they placed these billboards around Chicago. (Photo attached) Although the message reads fine up close, the problem occurs when the viewer looks at the message from afar or even at an angle.These problematic occurrences are actually quite common – restaurant menus, packaging, t-shirts, store signs, you can be sure you can spot words that have too much or too little space between letters.


Sadly, kerning letters is a thing of the past. No one cares about quality anymore, maybe only a handful of passionate designers and art directors. A typical business owner would tell you it’s too expensive to spend time adjusting the space between letters. While most people think kerning is a waste of time and money, if not a little sad, I think this tiny thing will reflect your brand in a big way. It shows how much you care about your brand right down to the tiniest detail. Quality is part of the brand and it is a choice no matter what situation we are in. While it is logical to keep an eye on cost, however when it comes to branding, you may want an expert’s touch. You wouldn’t want your brand to be on Twitter or FB for the wrong reasons.


So, the next time a space in between 2 letters bothers you, get it kerned before it kern-ni-nia’s your brand. (If you’re wondering what kern-ni-nia means, hint: it rhymes with a Hokkien word. Look it up.)