September 8, 2016

Choosing the right font for your brand

When we work on branding projects, one of the most crucial parts of the process is choosing a typeface. Typography can communicate mood and feeling far more effectively than even colour! We’ve had a lot of questions lately about fonts and typography and there’s no question, it can be tough to choose.

There are so many fonts available online, so how do you know which one is right for your business? It’s not as easy as it might seem. Designers who specialize in typefaces know all of the styles, the history of fonts and when best to use them.

So, leaving it in the hands of a capable designer is always best. However, we thought we’d give you a sneak peak into our process so you can understand the steps involved in narrowing down a typeface…

1. Ask yourself, where will the typeface be used?

Different typefaces work best for different applications. We ask every client to give us a complete list of where their brand will appear so we can choose a typeface that makes sense for them. For example, fancy script with a lot of delicate tendrils might look great on a wedding invitation but loses it’s readability on an iPhone screen or on a sign at night.

Write down a list of all of your brand applications for your designer so they can test various typefaces along the way and avoid fonts that may end up being problematic.

2. What are you trying to communicate?

We always review what your primary message is. What does that mean? Well, if we were designing a logo for a children’s store, we would want our design to be friendly, humorous and child-like. Defining the message that we want to convey is our first step in choosing typefaces.

Your message may be simple or more nuanced. Is your business “Calming and Approachable”? “Powerful and Creative”? Or maybe it’s “Homemade and Organic”? Each typeface has a distinctly different mood and selecting the right one will send a distinct message about your business.

3. Review Basic Type Categories

Once we know what your message is, we’ll review different typeface categories such as scripts slab serifs, sans serifs, handwritten, old style, modern, humanist and decorative to determine which category will convey your message in just the right way. To do this, we browse through categories of fonts and record which ones give us the same feeling.

For example, if the message you’re trying to communicate is “elegant and traditional”, we might look at scripts in combination with Old Style serif typefaces. If your looking to convey “assertiveness”, the typeface category we choose might be condensed sans serifs with tall letters. If your business is “Fabulous and Fashionable”, we might want to choose a Modern typeface with strong contrasting lines and a Vogue-like style.

4. Common Associations

All of us carry associations to fonts that we may not even be aware of. A font called Gill Sans, for example, is a typeface chosen regularly for Medical practices and Hospitals. Although it looks like a neutral font, when paired with certain colours and imagery, it will remind people of other Medical designs they have seen in the past.

We can use these common associations to immediately communicate that a brand belongs to a certain industry or, alternately, choose something different that stands out amongst the competition.

5. Test Your Choices

Once we have made some selections, we’ll create some samples to get a feeling for how the typeface works with the brand. Then there are a few other considerations. Will uppercase or lowercase work best for the logo? What kind of spacing (designers call this tracking, leading and kerning) between the letters will best reflect the brand? How will colour work best with our chosen typefaces? Does our chosen typeface have enough variations (italic, bold, thin, regular)?

Choosing the right typeface for your business takes some time and patience, but once we have it, we can consistently design materials that look amazing and support your brand. If you’d like to talk fonts with us, drop us a line!