Finding the right font for your brand, website, brochure or even social posts can be extremely overwhelming. Learning about different typefaces and font combinations can make things a little easier but with so many styles and opinions out there how do you find what’s right for you?
Typefaces can set the mood of digital writing, web design, graphic design, headlines, advertisements, logos, and more. But if you get it wrong, your brand can be very much misinterpreted.
So let’s dive in!
How to Choose a Font for Your Brand
Serif fonts are typefaces that have serifs, which are extra strokes on the ends of their letterforms. Serif fonts are great to showcase a theme that represents history or tradition, personally I’m not a fan, they just feel “fussy” and not so great for websites. The serif font category contains different shapes, thicknesses, and lengths.
Old style: Old-style serifs have wedged ascenders in the serifs, a substantial contrast between thick and thin strokes in the letterforms. The most traditional and classic of all the serif categories, Garamond is an old style of font. Named after the sixteenth-century Parisian engraver Claude Garamond, it is characterised by slanted counters or scooped serifs, often seen in body text, particularly in book publishing.
Transitional: Times New Roman is a transitional font and a frequent choice for plain text reading. Transitional serifs contain more contrast between stroke thickness and wider, bracketed serifs evolved from the old-style serif typeface. Libre Baskerville is another traditional serif letterform designed specifically for digital body copy with wider counters and less contrast than the traditional Baskerville font.
Didone: Fonts in the Didone family is more widely known as a Modern serif, characterised by rather extreme contrast in stroke thickness. These fonts are not meant for body text and can be mind numbing for long-term reading. For headings they represent a sense of luxury or elegance. Fonts like Didot and Bodoni are considered Didone fonts.
Slab Serif: Slab serif fonts like Clarendon are thick and chunky, with serifs that are sometimes as thick as the letter strokes themselves. Other slab serif fonts include Courier, Excelsior, and Rockwell.
Sans-serif fonts don’t have serifs on the ends of their letterforms. They are modern and minimalist and much more legible than serif fonts. Without the additional flourishes, they have a more orderly and clean appearance.
Grotesque: Grotesque sans-serif fonts don’t vary much in their stroke widths and uppercase letters are relatively uniform in appearance. Franklin Gothic is an example of a grotesque sans-serif font with an extra-bold design.
Neo-grotesque: Neo-grotesque sans-serif fonts are neutral and simple. They have fewer strokes than standard serif typefaces and are more refined letterforms than traditional grotesque fonts. Arial is a neo-grotesque typeface, the curvaceous figure is fuller and softer, with terminal strokes cut diagonally. Helvetica is more dense, with high x-height and tight spacing between the characters.
Geometric: Geometric fonts are influenced by geometric shapes and have a more modern look. Futura is an example of a geometric sans-serif typeface with letterforms that carry more weight. Avant-Garde Gothic is another example of a geometric font family.
Humanist: Humanist sans-serif fonts are inspired by traditional letterforms, they can alternate between thin and thick strokes. This font generally has loose letter spacing, wide counters, and a large x-height, making it easier on the eyes for smaller text. Verdana is a humanist sans-serif that was created by a type designer who specifically wanted to make computer viewing easier.
Script fonts are font types that resemble cursive handwriting or calligraphy. Formal scripts like Hummingbird, Kuenstler, or Malbec have a more classical or contemporary feel. Casual script fonts like Kaufmann, Vladimir, or Brush Script are more playful.
Be careful using scripted fonts, they can often be misinterpreted and some are just illegible.
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When it comes to choosing the right typeface for your brand or design project, consider they relevant factors and don’t lose sight of your purpose in the efforts to be artful and fancy.
Understand your business identity and brand personality before you choose a font. The end result is meant to nonverbally communicate your company’s tone. Start off by brainstorming a few words to describe your brand identity and find your brand voice. If your business is an “authoritative” or “educational” type of business you may choose a transitional serif typeface. For a “quirky” or “whimsical” type of business a script font might be more your style. For a business that is more “innovative” and “modern,” a sans-serif font is definitely the way to go.
Check out some of your competitors and other businesses, research brand fonts and find the ones you admire. Look up brands you follow and take note of the fonts in their brand. Take note of the impression that different lettering styles have on others. Don’t be afraid to pair the quirkiness of one typeface with the modernism of another.
Research typography. Study the anatomy of the font forms, how to distinguish between them, and how different lettering shapes or styles can evoke particular emotions. All of this information will help you choose.
Make sure that the font is versatile and able to remain consistent across your branding, from in print and digital advertising to desktop web design and mobile interfaces. If your logo design contains a phrase or tag line, choose something that’s obviously legible. If you have large format signs or billboard advertising, choose something that is bold but legible in large formats.
Choose a few fonts to start and narrow down your choices to perhaps three fonts for your brand and compare how your brand text looks in each. Look at them individually then side by side.
Consider the hierarchy, how letters are displayed and where they can draw the viewer’s eye in the most effective way. If you’re selecting a few fonts for your brand, consider how they look together. You definitely want your headers to complement your sub-headers, and vice versa. Configure your font pairings, which lettering should be used for display fonts and which should be the body text. Swap your styles around to see which layout is best for your brand and image.
Ask for feedback. Show family and friends, those that know you well and understand your business. Put together some mock-ups of your prospective brand fonts and ask for feedback. Since your branding is meant to target an audience, ask people you trust to be honest and provide positive feedback.
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