Earlier this month, I noticed this sign at the Gap:

Gap

The asymmetrical layout is eye-catching. The family is photographed as a unit, reinforced by the white space around it. The gold foil band adds a stripe of holiday festiveness, and highlights a separation between the photo the copy:

Gap2

Notice the contrasts here, moving from the medium-weight italics of the “to” to the chunky serif face (something in the direction of Abril, with very high contrast in line weight), and finally to a sans serif face with low contrast in line weight. Notice the difference in size; “tight knit” is largest, creating an immediate focal point. And notice the positioning: “tight knit” is centered in the white field with the tagline, but “to” and “families” are placed more organically. The effect is casual yet not sloppy. Matches the vibe of the photo.

Gap’s design makes an interesting comparison against Old Navy’s suite of signs:

OldNavy

OldNavy2

Again, notice the major contrasts. The small, condensed, heavy sans serif face, followed by a large slab serif (obviously the focal point text), followed by sans serif with low line contrasts. A horizontal bar separates the item information with more general shopping information, and the difference is highlighted with all caps and a bolding of the website URL.

Unlike Gap’s design, Old Navy’s signs don’t box in the models. The models stand (or sit) in the same open space as the copy. Two photos help to show off the clothes from two vantage points. Yet, notice the scaling on the photos—one is larger, and it’s the one occupying the center of the page. The center of a field is a natural focal point, and amplifying this with a larger image works. Notice also how the cropping of the photos helps to focus the eye more on the clothing, rather than on the models (not unlike Loft’s crops).