September 24, 2001 Volume 1 Issue 18
Another "Ole-Timer" Gets it Right
Vrest Orton, author, cataloguer, retailer, was born just a few years before the 19th Century ended.
Vrest understood direct mail, magazine articles, newsletters were to be read. And most likely would be read ... if only they could. 24 years ago in the month of September, after two plus decades in the mail-order catalog business, Vrest wrote an article for The National Review, titled Why Johnny Can't Read. Here is the heart of those words.
As you read selections from his text of 1977, know his thoughts are as valid today as they have ever been. Because Vrest was not talking about the ability to read. No, he was talking about begin able to read. He was talking physiology. i.e., how our bodies react when they see words.
Yes, the subject really is about how you present your message. Is it designed to be seen ... or to be read? Are you looking for an impression ... or some action? Do you want to make an impact, create an image, build a position ... or do you want a response?
If you're getting this E-zine you most likely have an interest in marketing, direct marketing and sales. If that's so, you already know how important understanding your message is. And how little time you have to get your message across. These thoughts, lifted from that article by Vrest Orton, may be "news" to you. Or, they may be a reminder of something you already knew. In any case, the bottom line is design includes the copy, the text, the words. What you do with your words will affect the response you get ... or do not.
Let's quote some sections from Vrest and his 1977 article Why Johnny Can't Read; "It seems the more we spend on building bigger and more luxurious schools and paying higher and higher salaries to teachers and administrators, the less Johnny can read.
"Parents are disgusted with this puzzle and are voting down requests for more money. Yet, they are seldom aware of a major reason why youngsters can pass through the primary system, and even graduate from high school, without the ability to read.
"The reason has to do with printing. American book and magazine publishers, ignorant of tradition and the true purpose of printing, have introduced the most impossible type ever invented since movable type was first used over 525 years ago.
"I refer to a bold, blunt, hard, stark, rigid style of type called sans-serif. Sans-serif is a form of type without serifs (or hooks), also called grotesque. Any message that makes the message difficult to read, that makes the printed page strident, brazen and uncomfortable to the eye, is wrong. Except for one purpose for which sans-serif was designed by the Germans; display advertising, whose function is to shout at the reader.
"Type is a medium; it is not an end in itself. The purpose of printing, whether a book, magazine or newspaper, is to make the text easy, pleasant and inviting to read. Typography should be invisible. If you pick up a book or a magazine and exclaim, 'Oh, isn't this beautiful type!', the designer has failed. Any type that gets between the reader and the author is not doing its job.
"Thanks (to the inventor of sans-serif), many textbooks and a number of magazines are now printed in this style of type, which not only repels and insults the eye, but actually makes printed matter almost impossible to read.
"By contract, why are types such as Caslon, (Times New Roman, Courier New, Bookman Old Style) the best and most legible? All these perform the two proper functions of a typeface;
"These classic types achieve that purpose because of their perfect proportions between thin and heavy lines, thin and heavy curves and the height and width of each letter. These letters fit together in such a way that the reader is never conscious of each letter, but only of word and sentence.
"Sans-serif does just the opposite. Each letter stands alone and 'yells' for attention. Each letter is the same width in all its parts; there are no contrasts. A page of sans-serif type is like a landscape with 200 hills in the distance, all exactly the same shape, size and height. The word for both are monotonous and unnatural.
"Caslon and other historic types exude character and charm - while remaining always unobtrusive. The eye has found these types agreeable, just as the eye of knowledgeable and educated people finds the aesthetic character of Georgian architecture comfortable and agreeable.
"In contrast modern architects build cold, stark, impressive skyscrapers and cold, sterile, modern furniture, chromed and slick. We look at these and exclaim in awe of their boldness. But no one ever fell in love with them. They shout and startle, but they do not welcome the eye.
"Same way with sans-serif type."
Enough. You get the idea. What was true in the '70's is equally as true today. Because, although there has been a considerable change in technology, our bodies, our eyes are the same. And will be. For a loooong time to come.
Next time you're putting together a direct mail package, a print advertisement, a newsletter ... anything people hold in their hand and read - use serif type. It is not debatable!
Ray on the RAYdio
"Big" Motorcycles on the Road is now into its second month of the new name.
The name is fitting, as that is what I do ... report from "...on the Road". All about bikes, bikers, rallies and special events, interesting new products, from the manufactures, and all the accessories, tour operators, you name it. If it has to do with motorcycles and enjoying the road, "Big" Motorcycles on the Road is there.
Although we guarantee our sponsors 24 programs, this year there will be over 40! It's only during the winter months, when there are fewer events, that we slack a bit. And "encore" several of the best programs from the previous year. We expect to keep the pace going through 2002.
This week there is a double-whammy ... stories from two accessory firms; Time-Out Trailers and ROHO. Cargo trailers have become a big deal with bikers ... especially those who tour. Which leads perfectly to a good saddle and seat. Something the folks at ROHO have figured out, with their AirHawk.
Next week you get my story from Competition Accessories. Their Springfield, Ohio headquarters begins with 300 bikes on the floor! And grows from there. What a wonderful place Tim and Julie Pritchard have - listen as we talk with them about it.
A selection from the Love Ride Kick-Off will air. And 60 minutes from the Wolf's Head Rally & Tour 'round Lake Superior, out of Two Harbors, Minnesota. What a grand group of folks. And what an event they stage!
Victory Motorcycle and Betty Boop Biker round out the next 30 days.
Oh, and I'll "see" you on the RAYdio!
Every E-zine issue will include a quote from the world's most famous philosopher ... Anonymous.
Here is the choice for this week;
"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives. And, there's a new batch up every 4 weeks.
The Joy of Change
We have a new telephone area code: 928.
Which means just about everything we own must be changed. At no small expense, either. So be it.
The 928 number is now active ... and so is the old 520. The old is scheduled to hang around until the end of 2001 ... and then disappear.
What is also disappearing is our old fax number. With E-mail fulfilling so many options, we've decided to offer only a single fax number; +1+928+244-6148
If you'd like to update all your records now, all of our current info is near the bottom of this page.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.