Often it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Choosing the right font is the difference between saying something with sincerity or sarcasm, between sounding knowledgeable and unsure. So how can you make sure you choose a font that lets your business speak with the voice it deserves?
How the Global Brands Do It
Let’s take a moment to learn from some of the world’s biggest brands.
The sweet manufacturer Pez uses a font that is a visual representation of the very sweets they sell – it’s playful yet simple, just like the toy mechanism that dispenses their sweets.
The curled handwriting of fonts such as Coca-Cola and Disney suggest something casual and friendly, but are distinctiveness enough to indicate a special, possibly even magical quality.
The banking giant HSBC uses a classic serif font in uppercase letters, which projects a strong, trustworthy identity. Meanwhile Citigroup opts instead for lowercase sans-serif font, projecting an image that suggests approachability first and foremost.
The ‘For Dummies’ series of books uses a very informal font that contains uneven sizing, with the intention being to create something that doesn’t look intimidating. The message here is that every topic can be made accessible.
As you can see, the choice of font for your logo can say a lot about your business – but how do you make sure you choose something that properly reflects your core values and the services you offer?
At the most basic level fonts can be divided into several categories: serif, sans serif, handwriting, script and display.
• Serif fonts are the most traditional. These fonts, which have lines at the end of each stroke, look professional and classic. Times New Roman is one of the most commonly used serif fonts.
• Sans serif fonts have a much more clean and modern look as they don’t have the lines on the end of strokes.
• Handwriting fonts are designed to look more human and usually look warm and inviting.
• Script fonts are very elegant and can suggest luxury. Like handwriting fonts they have a personal touch.
• Display fonts are typically reserved for logos because they’re so distinctive.
Once you’ve decided broadly what you want your font to say about your brand you can look within the category family to find the perfect font that represents exactly what your business is about.
You’ll notice that most big brands stick to one font. This allows a strong single message to be sent to the consumer. Occasionally the biggest brands use additional fonts for advertising purposes or in the logos of sub-brands as you can see below.
If we return to the ‘For Dummies’ example, we can see that the font used for the first part of the title is in a slightly more formal font. It’s still welcoming, but it suggests that the author has a good knowledge of the subject being discussed.
Whether you want to use multiple fonts in your logo or as part of an advert you need to make sure the fonts complement each other. As you might imagine, wildly different fonts won’t sit well together, but neither will fonts with minor, subtle differences. Your eyes should give you a good idea of whether different fonts go together, but as a general rule a script font with a sans serif or serif font works well.
Scaling, Spacing and Case
As well as choosing your font, you’ll want to think about scaling, spacing and case.
• Case – Take another look at the HSBC and Citi logos. The use of case complements the font used to emphasise the particular message they’re trying to send consumers. Uppercase doesn’t always have to suggest strength – the For Dummies logo uses uppercase to reinforce a basic look that makes the book accessible.
• Scaling – The scaling of a font refers to how wide or narrow the individual letters are. Usually you’ll want a regular scale, but making your font particularly wide or narrow can create a distinctive style, such as in the GAP logo seen below.
• Spacing – This refers to the gaps between the letters. FedEx has minimal spacing to suggest a tight, punctual service
The font you choose will go a long way in determining how your brand represents your company – but it won’t go all the way – you still have other important design decisions to make.
Would the Walt Disney font look so great if it wasn’t for the fairytale castle? Would the Coca-Cola brand be so iconic if it didn’t use red and white colours?
As long as every decision is made with the purpose of reinforcing your brand message you’ll find that your logo says not only what you want, but how you want.
Banner image in use can be found here.
SEE ALSO: Designing Logos with Color Psychology
About the Author
This post was written by Jack Reid from Oomph, a plastic card design and print company. Visit Oomph online for a full range of cards and printing services including NFC, MIFARE and Contactless Plastic Cards.