We frequently work with clients on designs for their websites and digital marketing materials as well as print projects and other advertising on paper. It’s always important to make sure the copy is well-written and free of ambiguity or obscurity. We need to be sure the layout is clear and easy to follow, and any artwork has to fit the feel and tone of the piece. But the one place that lots of people get stuck when trying to describe or tweak a design is the font.
People get surprisingly attached to fonts, and have strong reactions to ones they don’t like. Fonts signify so many different things, too. From the time period of the piece to the emotion it needs to convey to just plain how cool the company is.
If you’re working on a design, whether it’s for a website or digital piece, something printed like a brochure, or something small and punchy like a business card, keep these things in mind—and talk to us if you need expert advice on how to use a font to elevate your brand:
Readability is always the most important factor in font choice. What good is a billboard if no one can read the message? What use is a flyer if the font is too weird to be read when it’s posted on a wall? Sure, size, color, and even effects like a shadow or outline can help, but if a font is too wide or too narrow, too bubbly or curving of a script, or just plain too hard to read, you’re not going to achieve any of the goals set for your design piece. Fun fact: did you know serif fonts are proven easier to read, and people can read them faster? Serif is just the small lines added usually on the ends of some letters. What you’re reading right now is “sans serif” where there are no horizontal lines above and below letters like lowercase l or uppercase I.
Sans serif fonts are usually considered more modern because current design trends are typically cleaner and flatter with fewer unnecessary embellishments. Times New Roman tends to feel old-school to a lot of people now because it’s been around so long and has been used so much. Retro sixties and seventies fonts get a little psychedelic and bubbly (which isn’t a popular option right now), but some of the elements of mid-century modern art are definitely back in style. Maybe credit is due to the tv show Mad Men, but whatever it is, you’ll find the clean and sometimes futuristic look of 50s fonts around the internet nowadays. Make sure you are not dating yourself with an out-of-date font if you want to look current!
There are so many other elements to fonts and the psychology around them. Did you know men prefer more angular fonts whereas women tend to like more curves and fonts with longer tails? Even more obvious than subtleties like this are things like capital letters make you seem like you’re shouting, and handwriting fonts make you seem casual. If it helps you to pick an important font for your project, write down the values your company holds or the feelings you want people to have when they see the design. Then look for fonts that are meant to convey those things.
If you’re working on an important piece and think you’ve found the perfect font, just be sure to get some second opinions. It’s easy to fall in love with something, especially if it reminds you of something else, but you want your font choice to help convey your message and your brand without distracting or confusing your audience.