When it comes to branding and communication, fonts play a pivotal roll in the tone of your message. So let’s break this down into some easy to digest sections so you can better understand the thought process and decision making behind picking the right fonts.
When it comes to picking fonts for a brand, there’s a few key and important factors.
Without a doubt, the most important factor in font selection is legibility. It’s a simple fact that it’s better for a font to be clear and legible than not. A lot of factors come into play here, such as size, font weight, line-height, kerning, tracking, etc… If readers need to spend extra time going back and rereading, your font choice is likely bad and/or your content is poorly written. Immediately we have two concerns to address now as far as legibility goes.
So how do you chose a font that’s legible? There’s a couple quick ways to identify fonts that would be ideal for legibility. These are;
- Pick fonts with conventional letterforms
- Choose fonts with generous spacing, but not excessive
- Single out fonts with a tall x-height
These three ideals will help you narrow in on legible candidates during your selection process. Failing that, here’s a list of some of the most legible fonts to get you started. Just keep in mind they may not be ideal for your brand. These are just examples.
Keep in mind that these are a mix of Serif and Sans-Serif fonts, and are in now way a list of fonts that should be used together. When it comes to choosing between Serif or Sans-Serif fonts for a brand, there’s not really a definitive rule. However, there’s some factors that come into play just like with any other font. If your brand leans more toward corporate sales or is a B2B focused business, a Serif font may be a better choice for your brand. Though, if your brand is more on the modern side, a serif font may feel too traditional or corporate for your brand personality.
In addition to this, there are factors like target audience, and brand character to take into account. You might have a fun, relaxed, modern SASS company – that focuses on solving huge problems for small to giant companies. However, you probably wouldn’t want to use Lobster as one of your brands font choices. Come to think of it… Nobody should be using this font anymore. Please, I beg you… Don’t!
Your brand is as unique as the people that make up your business. As such, it has its own “feel” when you walk into the office, or join that ninth Zoom call this week. The fonts your brand uses should be unique to you, or at least the pairings and way your brand uses those fonts. Your brand also has a unique personality and way that people do/or will perceive it. Your logo usually sets a foundation for this, as it’s always the front-facing sales person that never sleeps. However, it’s important not to confuse how you feel about your brand and how your target audience need to feel. These are typically two contrasting things when speaking to some business owners – and sometimes it’s a little bit of a reality check for brands when they realize how different their view is from their customers.
What I’m trying to get at here, is that; your font choices – be them unique, should also help to enforce your brands uniqueness. These fonts should speak to your uniqueness as a brand, but also speak to your target audience. Ideally your brand fonts should have multiple weights, outlined in your branding guidelines or brand identity. you’ll need to use multiple weights of fonts for things like headlines, body copy, call-to-actions, and so on – and lets not forget these fonts will be used on-screen and in print.
I feel like uniqueness of a brand bleeds naturally into what makes a brands personality. I’m sure you’d agree too. Much like uniqueness, brand personality can be further enhanced or enforced within the brand with font selection. Strong, bold fonts carry heft, weight, power. Skinny, open, and small fonts, carry and portray softness. It’s often the middle ground where font selection can be toughest.
A brands personality goes a lot deeper than just font selection and application, but it has a dramatic, often immediately measurable impact. Some basics to consider are;
- Serif fonts portray a classic, almost timeless feel. Great for brands with traditional and formal personality.
- Slab-Serif. Typically bold, and strong, are great to consider for brands that reflect power, loudness, and masculinity.
- Sans-Serif fonts exude a modern and clean feel. They’re also really good at communicating modern, fresh, and less formal brand personalities.
- Script fonts are very elegant. They can portray a sense of class, delicateness, femininity, and softness. Ideal for brands that have a gentle and inviting personality.
Failure to define hierarchy in type is a common trait in new or young businesses, or businesses that try to handle too much in-house from the start. It’s also quite often a common mistake newer designers make. Design hierarchy is typically invisible. Until you compare design without hierarchy to good brand design with it – it then becomes glaringly obvious. So imagine how a printed advertisement with poor design and lack of identity looks next to one with strong brand identity and good font hierarchy. One will look look obviously cheap, messy, and unprofessional. The other will have a sense of balance, purpose, and strong communication. Not to mention how this will enforce the brand personality when compared to the lacking advertisement.
Solid hierarchy in design establishes visual clarity. This bleeds deeper than just the hierarchy of type, but into layout design, color usage, and more… Without a solid sense of identity and font hierarchy, your brand will appear lost – and your target audience will find your marketing collateral weak and disregard it.
There’s many places to find great examples of type hierarchy though. We only need to look toward brands like Apple, Nike, Starbucks, IKEA. These brands have some of the best typography and font selection in the world. Their design and font, or type hierarchy are essentially what many brands aspire to be like.
Simply put, good hierarchy design in type is invisible – because it clearly defines things and feels so natural you hardly ever notice it. On the other hand, poorly defined hierarchy in type is glaring, uncomfortable, awkward, and just plain miserable. Without clearly defined headings, paragraphs or body text, lists and so on, your typography and brand will struggle to effectively communicate your brands visions, goals, personality, and mission.
There’s many elements that require careful consideration when it comes to brand identity design. The fonts picked for a brand should always be carefully considered. Their use and how you communicate your brands message and personality lean heavily on the fonts that a brand uses. Much like the colors used in brand identity, they need to match your unique brand personality and help to compliment and enforce it.
If you’d like to learn more about the power of design in branding, I have a short video that explains 5 Business Card Mistakes to Avoid – ideal for graphic designers to business owners. If you’re guilty of any of these, then we should probably have a little chat.