With all the elements that go into design, we often forget about the importance of font choices. By changing your font, you can completely change the mood and message of your design. Whether it’s vintage, futuristic, or modern, your font should be carefully considered and convey the message you want.
We asked industry experts why fonts are important and how you can be sure you’re making the right choice. Here’s their advice:
Choose a Focus
“We tend to choose fonts based on the type of client and the niche they are in, it’s more about the audience we are trying to reach and the subject of the ad in addition to deciding what elements we want to highlight more than others. It is absolutely fine to use more interesting fonts when the rest of the design is simple and we want to emphasize the font as the primary design element or when we want to highlight a particular message above all else.”
– Jason Van Tassel, Owner & Creative Director, MouthMedia
Consider Your Brand
“Don’t underestimate the power of picking the right font design and its deep psychological impact it has on your visitors. Experienced designers understand this and pick their fonts very carefully & deliberately. We often times spend hours selecting a font for a design.
Different font styles communicate different sub conscious messages to people, which can help you build brand identity.
Pick a font that actually matches your message or brand identity.
We always try to start with Google fonts. Google Fonts provides a huge selection of high-quality fonts that are easy to install and use on a website. They load faster, are SEO friendly, and look the same across different computers. Google Fonts is a great source for free fonts.”
– Brad Shaw, President & CEO, Dallas Website Design
“Font choices are an extremely important factor whenever designing any graphical element. When it comes to creating a brand or logo, the font choices must be made to portray the core brand messaging. If a theoretical brand’s key messaging is to exude trust and expertise, their logo would utilise a strong font rather than something more light hearted or creative. The font selections for this theoretical brand to be utilised alongside the logo again adhere to the core messaging, but at the same time be distinguishable to that used in the logo and a softer font for large areas of written content.
– Matthew Porter, Lead Designer & Marketing Director, Kumo Digital
“I think that fonts are a great way to spark nostalgia from certain eras in time, or even give a sense of something futuristic. This of course can cause something to look dated quickly, especially if the font serves as the focal point, as opposed to being an accompanying element.
Take the font Futura for instance. It’s a classic, but depending on how it’s used it can cause things to look dated — almost 60’s or 70’s feeling even though it was created in the 1920’s. At the same time, Nike uses Futura and it has a very fresh “now” look. Sometimes it all depends on the subject matter that the font is representing.
When choosing a classic font vs something more avant garde, logo’s lend themselves to a bit more of a unique look vs using a classic. If every company’s logo design was rendered in Helvetica, what would make it unique? Sure I’ve used plenty of classic’s in a logo, but that’s where I let the project and subject matter speak to me.
For web it’s all about legibility. I think display type should only be used in larger headlines, or branded treatment, but for body copy and smaller headlines, something classic and legible is always crucial.”
– Chad Birenbaum, Co-Founder & Designer, Duckpin Design
Follow Industry Trends
“You have to understand the client and the industry they are in when deciding on a logo. If the company is more masculine, like a brewing company, you’ll want to choose a logo that is more bold. If the company is elegant, like a salon, you’ll want to choose a thinner and more elegant font.
Your branding should be consistent, even if the advertising channel is different. While the messaging can be different for an advertisement, you want your brand standards to be carried over.
The same is true for a website. You’ll want to stick with the logo, color scheme and agreed upon fonts based off of your brand standard for the website.”
– Jason Parks, President, The Media Captain
Think About the Text’s Purpose
“The short and simple answer to your question “When is it okay to use more interesting fonts and when should you stick to something classic?” is this: Decorative fonts are better saved for titles and logos, while classic-looking fonts are more appropriate for text. However, an infinite variety of fonts exist today thanks to digital typography. All of the fonts that exist today can be classified into a handful of categories. These include Old Style, Italic,Transitional, Modern, Egyptian, San Serif, and Decorative.
- Old Style fonts have a classical feel because they are derived from scripts invented by the ancient Romans. These fonts are ideal when a sense of authority or prestige wants to be conveyed, and are useful for projects in banking and government sectors. Garamond is the classic example of classic.
- Transitional fonts came to existence in the mid 1700s.They are bolder than Old Style, and emphasize the thick and thin strokes of their letter forms. An example is Baskerville.
- Building upon Transitional, Modern fonts evolved in the latter part of the 18th century. An example of a Modern font is Bodoni. The thick and thin strokes are so drastic that that are appropriate for titles and headings.
- Egyptian fonts are newer; they came about after 1815. They mostly maintain the same thickness throughout the letter stroke. A good example is the font used by an old-fashioned typewriter, or Courier New. They are useful for plain text.
- San Serifs are letterforms without serifs, the small elements added at the ends of letters. (For example, the horizontal slashes at the ends of the ampersand, &, are called serifs). San Serifs are the most widely used digital typeface and are ideal for websites. They create clear, legible text that is easy on the eye.
- Lastly comes Decorative. Decorative fonts are usually custom-made for a specific brand to make it stand out. A great example is the font used in the Coca Cola logo. No one writes or types in that font – it’s iconic and very specific to the beverage’s brand and image.”
– Andrea Cassar, VP of Creative Service, Blue Force Communications
“When you choose a logo you must first identify the type of graphic piece you need to make and who it is aimed at, to you choose the tone in which you want to communicate its message. Once this is clear, you must look for fonts that are coherent with it. For example, if the tone you want to handle in a graphic piece is strong you can use Sans Serif, Bold and Uppercase fonts, thus graphically transmitting strength.
It’s also important to keep in mind the type of publication in which you are going to use the font, whether it is on the web or in printed format. For instance, for printed ads, a Serif font works fine but for the web, a Sans Serif font is better. Titles can handle using a wider variety of fonts since they are generally texts with fewer characters, with makes them easier to read. Plain texts, on the other hand, need more classic and simple fonts to make sure the characters can be well defined. For more concise pieces such as logos or illustrations, it’s important to look for a font that integrates well with the rest of the graphic elements, making sure it has a complementary tone.”
– Isabel Velez, Graphic Designer, imagetoner.com
“Whether a designer chooses a specific font based on legibility, style, consistency, or just plain preference, at the end of the day, there’s still some reasonable motive behind the decision. There always should be! Fonts bring character to a design and establish unity across a brand’s digital media. So where does one start with selecting something so crucial to your final product?
Here are 5 things to consider when selecting what font to use for logo, advertisement, & website design:
What is the brand? A good starting point is to know exactly what you’re designing for. It should go without saying, your designs for a law-firm and a preschool need to differentiate. Professional organizations need a professional appearance and that reason right there immediately lends itself towards a strict, clean font for their design. On the flip-side, designers should aim for anything but boring with a preschool coloring book cover. Playful and even immature fonts can accurately depict the brand in a case like this.
Who’s going to see your design? The intended audience of a design is crucial. A brand’s designs are usually intended to be seen multiple times by the same audience, so your designs need to stick and cater to them. Maybe it’s best to keep your designs conservative for an older crowd while you spice things up for a millennial audience.
Where will your designs be seen? In 2017, there are multiple outlets for which consumers are receiving ads and media. Always account for readability and the window of opportunity your design has to catch the attention of the viewer. With something like a billboard that drivers only have a chance to view briefly in passing, it would only make sense to create a design with a font that’s structured and easy to read. When it comes to a creative logo that’ll be in front of viewers, again and again, designers can take more liberty in their font uniqueness. Recognize how long your design has to win over a consumer and adjust to it.
What’s the goal of your design? Are you trying to create a logo that’ll be easy to integrate into apparel, or are you trying to build a website for a social media agency? A designers objective can mean everything. The font choice on a printed tee-shirt can be gauged by the designer based on how important it is for readers to immediately understand the message or just be impressed by a creative design. Also, keep in mind the brand you’re designing for. A creative business such as a social media agency may always want to display energy and upbeatness across all brand designs. You can always mix and match basic and fancy fonts to keep consistent branding and meet intended design goals.
How is your design going to connect with viewers? When trying to catch someones attention, fancy fonts can always do the trick. Hook in consumers with headline fonts that reel their eyes in. Once they’re caught, you can keep the content font more basic so it’s easy for viewers to read and understand. Again, this question of how to connect with viewers can be solved by mixing and matching basic and fancy fonts. The best designers know how to balance and implement both kinds in all types of design situations.”
– Ryan K. Hertel, Creative Director, Socialocca