Type Case

Branding Through the Lens: The Power Behind Black-and-White Photography

When we began defining the new Monotype, one of our goals was to make the visual expression of our brand a truly engaging experience. As part of that process, we chose photography as one of three core elements of our visual identity system, following our new brand identity typeface, Kootenay, and our new color palette.


We turned to photography as our principal method for non-typographic visualization for a number of reasons. Photography is dynamic, fluid and people can relate to it. It has the power to set the tone to create a strong, unique and compelling style that would allow us to celebrate typography in action. Photography enables all kinds of interaction through the use of scale, form and unexpected cropping and perspectives. The more we thought about photography, the more we gravitated toward black-and-white, seeing its potential as the perfect complement to our highly saturated color scheme.

Black-and-white photography evokes the immediacy of photojournalism. It also carries a weight and stability that mirrors our deep roots in the typographic and design communities. We took all this into consideration and chose to use black-and-white street scenes as a prominent theme – images that allow us to really humanize the Monotype brand.

Images that allow us to really humanize the Monotype brand

Black-and-white photography can sometimes appear dated, so in order to ensure our new look remained contemporary, and to enhance the visual richness of our photographic images, we developed a duatone and tritone filter using a profile of blacks and grays. This allowed us to take static and older images and infuse them with a rich character and a depth of field that pulls the viewer in. It was the perfect complement to the other visual elements of our brand.

As you explore our site, you’ll find that the banner images topping each section serve as a reference, a visual narrative that guides you through to each related page. Our creative director, Dennis Michael Dimos, created these images by pulling from a collection of photographic and reference artwork to form a unique, composited image, visually identifiable to each section.

“Many of the images have a heroic quality,” Dennis observed. “And we varied them to depict a historical perspective while also showcasing the synergy between type and technology as it’s used today.”

In the end, we rediscovered the beauty, elegance, simplicity and power of black-and-white photography. The absence of color encourages a freedom of composition. It allows us to explore subtleties of light and shadow, and use texture and tone to tell a story that invites viewers to ‘experience’ the image, not just ‘see’ it. 

We hope that you’ve enjoyed these posts about how we built our new visual identity system, and how we came to choose the three core elements – the Kootenay typeface, our new color palette and our library of black-and-white photography.  And as always, we look forward to hearing what you think.

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