Why Fonts Matter and How to Pick the Right Ones
Why Fonts Matters
Fonts are a core component of your visual brand. Choosing the right fonts reinforces the personality and image you want to convey. On the flip side, choosing the wrong ones can leave people . . . confused.
If you have ever heard me give a talk on branding, you know to stay away from childish fonts like Comic Sans unless you are a childcare center with a very specific vision. Imagine if your credit union sent you a piece of mail that used Comic Sans. The cutesy lettering doesn't communicate the trust and reliability you associate with a financial institution. You'd either assume it was fraudulent or start to wonder about the institution's professionalism, right?
Image of Comic Sans described from BBC.com
Think about your own brand and the qualities you want to represent. Based on those qualities, choose no more than three fonts that pair well together and reinforce your brand personality.
Types of Fonts
There are four main types of fonts to consider incorporating:
Serif fonts have a traditional, reliable, and more serious feel. The letters have small embellishments or “feet,” which some say make them easier to read in print format or long paragraphs of text. Some examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman and Georgia.
Sans serif fonts have a contemporary, modern, or progressive feel. They are cleaner and have no added strokes or “feet.” This simpler structure makes them a preferred choice for small text or use in digital formats. Some examples of sans serif fonts are Arial and Calibri.
Script or Handwritten
Script or handwritten fonts are much more stylized and decorative. They have an elegant or feminine feel and can offer a real infusion of personality for the right brand. It’s important to use script or handwritten fonts carefully to ensure legibility. Some examples of script fonts are Brush Script and King Basil Lite.
Display fonts are bold, quirky, and expressive. They are used to set the mood in headlines, especially in print materials. Display fonts are best served in small doses, and they can range widely in style. Some examples of display fonts are Plaster and Alfa Slab One.
Things to Consider When Selecting Fonts
Having a few fonts helps you use typography effectively to emphasize points, but having too many can look inconsistent. The best practice is to limit your brand to three primary fonts. Make sure that the fonts pair well with one another. Some free resources for this include Font Joy and Font Pairing.
You’ll also want to ensure that the fonts you have chosen are available across the platforms that you use most often. You may have noticed that Google Docs and Canva have a series of preloaded fonts, but not all fonts appear in both menus. When selecting brand fonts, be sure to consider the programs you work with most often and choose fonts that translate easily across them.
Most importantly, make sure that the fonts you choose are legible! If people can't read your words, then they don't hear your message. Beyond font selection, you can improve readability by making wise choices regarding point size, tracking, and leading. Point size is how large or small your font will appear. Ideally, choose a 12-point font for most body text and a slightly larger font for headings. Tracking refers to the space between each letter. Unless you have expert guidance, always keep your tracking standard to avoid things looking funky. Leading is the space between lines of text. I recommend setting leading at 150% of the text size; otherwise, your copy will look cramped and hard to read.