There are so so many fonts out there, it can seem almost overwhelming to choose fonts for your brand, and just when you think you have them nailed, you will come across another font that has you swooning. Or is that just me?
For years I would change up my website and brand fonts. I love fonts, and adore typography, so very time I discovered something I loved I just had to change me site.
Not a good move from a branding perspective! While there are a lot of gorgeous fonts around, you do not need to use them all, and certainly not all in your branding. My advice is to choose set fonts for your brand. Write them down so you are not tempted to change. And keep the pretty fonts for special occasions, like fun promos, social media motivational quotes and personal projects.
So before you choose your fonts. You need to understand a bit about the different kinds of fonts.
The main types of fonts and best uses.
The main font types are serif, san-serif, script, calligraphy, and hand drawn. Let’s go through these in detail and when best to use them and how to decide which sort is best for your branding.
Serif fonts, have ‘serif’ ends, little line details on the ends of the letter. These fonts are formal, timeless, sophisticated traditional and are the easiest to read in body text, like blog posts, books or other large blocks of text. (Serif variations include ball serifs, slab serifs, Glyphic Serifs, blackletter and semi-serifs)
San Serif fonts, do not have the ‘serifs’ on the ends, and have a more clean and modern look. They look more simple, fresh and new. Works well as body text, as long as it is not too lengthy.
These fonts join up and are feminine and flowy. You can have very formal scripts or more casual scripts. script fonts tend to have a classic and sophisticated feel. More casual scripts, can feel feminine and gentle but also playful. these fonts are good for headers but too hard to read as body text.
these very popular fonts are based on calligraphy hand lettering. They are elegant and pretty, with a unique touch as they have a more hand drawn feel then other script fonts. they make great headers, but should not be used for body text as it would be hard to read.
These are very informal fonts, with less structure and look like they have been hand drawn. these are great for subtitles and sub headers, to add a nice personal touch as they look hand written.
I wouldn’t advice going down the decorative font path for branding, unless your brand is very grunge in stlye and you want a grunge, highly textured font. But it would still be wise to use in moderation depending on readability. Decorative fonts tend to have a cultural and historial era feel to them, which can be useful for special events or themes.
The Rule of Three
When it comes to selecting fonts for your brand the ideal number is no more than 3. you can go less, but this may feel restricting.
Remember your logo is not one of your fonts. It should stand out on its own as its own identity and mark for your brand.
You need to look at selecting a good font for your body copy. Think blog posts, main website text, invoices, contracts and marketing material. Then a font that will serve well for sub headers, widget titles, and pull out quotes. Finally a font for main headers, like headlines, titles and headers.
If that feels limiting, remember you can also mix things up with colour, size, s p a c i n g, UPPERCASE, lowercase, bold and italic.
Your can get creative about how you use your fonts to make it more dynamic and interesting, but crowding your brand with more then 3 base fonts, will make it look messy, confusing and inconsistent.
We have gone over the need for 3 fonts or less. So now to look at font pairing. Your two primary fonts, the body font and the subititle/ headers font, need to pair up nicely. It usually works best to have one serif font and one san-serif, but not always the case. The key is for the fonts to both have a differnt look, but also work harmoniously together. much like choosing colours.
There are some great font pairing websites to help you, if you are struggling to team up the right winning combo.
What are you saying with your fonts?
When selecting your brand fonts, you also need to take into consideration the feel and message in the font. a wedding photography may what elegant, classic fonts. Where as a men’s t-shirt company may want more modern clean fonts.
Be sure to match the feel of the fonts with the feel of your brand’s identity.
Does it appeal to who your target audience is? What does it say about your brand and your brand positioning?
You don’t want to use a font that looks cheep and cheerful if you are a high-end boutique.
Acheivng the right feel through your typography can also be acheived through other typographic techniques, such as the spacing, positioning on the page and in relation to images and your colour choices.
If you are unsure, show a basic layout using your fonts to someone who dosn’t know about your brand, and ask them what kind of brand they think it would be. This can be a great insight into whether you are sending the right message about your brand through your font choices and typography.
Test your Fonts
Be sure the fonts you choose work well for not only your brand style and message but also for what you need to use the for. test them on your website, promo graphics and print graphics. Do they work for their indended purposes? Are they readable and adaptable? Do you feel the 3 fonts you choose meet all your needs, or do you feel it lacks something and one of the fonts needs to change to better serve your graphic needs?
Also if you are using web and print, are you able to obtain web and print versions of the font? You don’t want to choose a font, only to find it can not easily be coded into your website.
Remember too that if you purchase paid fonts, you will need to get both the desktop and webfont versions. You also need to be aware of the lincesing agreement of the font. Some fonts have usage limits, and require you to pay more for higher usage.
Tip: if you are an Adobe user, try out Typekit for web fonts.
Where to find great fonts- FREE
Creative Market offers a new lot of free graphics each week and usually include fonts.