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Custom Pins 101: Text and Typography

From snappy one-liners to snazzy political slogans, text and typography are an important staple of making custom pins.

Custom Pins

From snappy one-liners to snazzy political slogans, text and typography are an important staple of making custom pins. However, between the small surface of the typical custom pin and the limitations of plating and color, adding pin text can take some thought and planning. In today’s Custom Pins 101, AllAboutPins is delving into the most important design factors and challenges for using text and typography in your custom pin design.

Working With Pin Text and Typography

Some designs wrap pin text in a text box or scrawled through the center of the design. Other pin designs are literally just a snappy line of text. But, however, the text is styled on a pin design, actual production is just the same as many of the other details in a pin design. Text is produced in raised metal over the rest of the design or recessed into a pin with an optional color fill to create visual contrast with the rest of the design.

However, unlike an emblem or image, text on a pin needs to be both visible and legible from the size of your average pin. Text on a pin should be at least 5pts for visibility and sized for adding a color fill in any recessed text. With the average custom pin around 0.75” to 1.0”, most pin designs don’t have room for a ton of text.

Challenges With Adding Text to a Custom Pin

Unlike changing a color scheme or deciding on a different plating option, integrating text on a custom pin is a more delicate process that comes with its own set of challenges that all come down to how much text you can add to your typically small lapel pin.

  • Scaling text for readability. Any text on a custom pin design needs to be brief, to the point, and legible at a pinnable scale.
  • Text competing for visual space. While tons of pins exist as a snappy line of colorful text, more complicated designs with drafted off of images or emblems are going to find their visual elements competing for limited visible space on a pin.
  • Keeping text concise on a pin. You can’t expect to fill a 1” pin with paragraphs on paragraphs of text. Deciding on text means paring down to the bare minimum it takes to get an idea or concept across in a single word or (extremely)brief sentence. 

Tips for Designing and Producing Pins With Text

By now, you’ve likely realized that the biggest challenge of adding text to a pin boils down to having enough space to see and identify text on a pin. Something that gets more complicated as you start adding other visual elements like emblems, pictures or shapes to a pin design. To master pin text, find ways to highlight the text and naturally draw attention to the ideas you want to convey on the design itself. 

  • Decide quickly if pin text is the main feature or a supporting design element. For instance, some pin designs are nothing but an iconic phrase, song lyric or motivational statement with a mix of typography and artwork giving the words a flair of character. In contrast, some pins use text to add character and voice to their artwork. Knowing where you stand between the two extremes will help you better contextualize how to use text on your pin.
  • Consider text as part of a whole design. Color, plating, artwork, and text should all be working as parts of a whole to catch the attention of anyone seeing the pin and to make a unified impression. For instance, this design created for a gaming production event uses a retro-gaming color scheme and design to capture a classic look. 
  • Keep a minimum of 5 pt font size and keep it brief. A 5 pt font is the smallest you should go for any text. Big enough for a color fill while still legible for display. For that matter, avoid using more than 10-15 words for any text on a pin. Less if you want bigger text. You won’t have space for much more on even the largest pins. 
  • Stick to Raised Metal Text for Darker Enamel Pins. Using darker colors like purple or black can make it difficult to impossible to see recessed text. Get around this with raised metal text, which can pull double-duty showing-off a brightly polished plating for a strong contrast.
  • If you’re using a specific font, send it to your manufacturer to speed production. Some artists draw up their own custom fonts and typography for their pin designs, but most people tend to find an appropriate font choice from the thousands already out there. If you’re among the latter, make sure to send it along to the design team so we’re not spending a ton of time searching or tracing the exact font style. In the long-run, this can make for a much more streamlined and quicker production process.

Designing any custom pin takes a lot more thought and consideration than most people would give credit for, but the look of your finalized pin design can make it all worth it. By carefully applying these tips to your next pin design, your next pin project with AllAboutPins is sure to look great. But if you still need help, don’t be afraid to contact us on social media or shoot us an email at info@allaboutpins.com. With an industry-leading design team and experienced talent, we’re sure to help you get things rolling.

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