An essential part of designing your brand is font selection. At its most basic, it commands consistency. Beyond this, fonts lead to a visual brand identity and assist with recognition in a busy marketplace. Furthermore they communicate brand traits and need to speak to your target audience. Because of this, font selection is not a task to be taken lightly! There are thousands of fonts in existence and I did actually research this question wondering if any brave soul had dared to apply an actual number. As I imagined, there doesn’t seem to be a figure with more and more fonts created on a daily basis. Here are a few of the critical factors that need to be considered when selecting the perfect font for your brand…
Typefaces, font families are one and the same, and in its simplest explanation, a ‘set of one of more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features’. Traditionally typeface categories include Sans Serif (without “feet”), Serif, Decorative or Display, Calligraphy, Blackletter, and Pixel. Commonly chosen as a typeface for a brand are fonts from the Serif/Sans Serif categories, with possibly a decorative/display option added in for additional flair.
Ideally choose a font family that includes variations of the font – e.g. regular, italics, light, bold, condensed, extended and so on. This will allow for versatility in the use of your chosen font.
Leading on from versatile font choice would be to use a combination of fonts for your brand – though best practice would be to limit to two, once again in the name of consistency. You can then allocate one font (let’s say the fancier of the two) to headings, and the simpler font for the body and sub headings as required. Contrast is key here – using two similar typefaces is pointless and confusing. It’s also best to avoid a combination of various elaborate fonts, unless a dog’s breakfast is the look you are gunning for….
Designer Dan Mayer compares font selection to choosing an outfit for the day, suggesting the distinction between typefaces is similar to that of clothing, and one must decided as to whether to go expressive and stylish or useful and appropriate.
More often than not, if you are choosing to let loose on that flamboyant pair of bell bottoms from your crazy uncle’s collection, you may have to team it up with auntie Anne’s sturdy work boots to get the job done. If on the other hand, you are choosing a fairly tame font, one typeface will likely do the job, and do it well.
What are you trying to communicate?
Font selection goes hand in hand with the categorisation of your business. What your business does and what it is trying to say can be further enhanced in the written form by the font chosen to communicate your story, be it an annual report for a bank, or flyer for a jumping castle company. Think of fonts as having individual personalities; by simply choosing to use one font over another you are conveying a message.
As well as a suitable personality, the font choice needs to speak correctly to the target audience of the business. Last week I worked with a client who is targeting an older audience, consideration had to be given for an easy to read font, suitable to use in larger print. It is essential to consider functionality when choosing fonts. Interestingly, serif fonts were traditionally considered the easy to read option, however with the proliferance of screen reading it has now been determined that whilst serif fonts work well for printed block of text, sans serif is preferred for onscreen viewing.
A few of my current favourites
I have to say that I still tend to love a bit of Helvetica Neue and Avenir action – great versatility and such a range of types. I am finally over my obsession with serif font Trajan Pro – it lasted quite a while, this font is all in capitals and had a distinct understated elegance. I am quite regularly using Raleway, a font which has recently popped up on my radar, as has Museo, referred to within Typekit as a slab serif font, particularly holds it own when used as a heading. And I love script fonts, used correctly. Whilst I usually find that the font has to be specifically matched to the design piece, Al Fresco, Hummingbird and Bickham Script have all recently featured in design pieces.
All in all, there is a lot at stake when it comes to font selection. It’s a combination of education, practice and intuition. Which designers have perfected over their years of working with fonts and typefaces on a daily basis. With a passion for all things font and design, here at Cuckoo our designers would love the opportunity to assist in the discovery of the perfect font for your business – give us a bell.