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How to choose typography for your brand

I want to talk about brand typography today- i.e. the fonts you’ll use in your social media graphics, on your website, and in your printed flyers etc. There’s a misconception out there that you have to use the font from your logo, but actually, you will probably want a wider set of fonts to choose from, and perhaps not that one at all. Why? Three reasons:

  1. First, you may have gotten a custom typographic/hand lettered logo- so there may not be a font available to you!
  2. Second, there’s a school of thought that says keep the logo “special” by not using its font elsewhere.
  3. Third, the font may be very pricey, and not easily usable for websites (some fonts cost hundreds of dollars). So choosing a few additional fonts is a perfectly acceptable option, and gives you the ability to diversify your designs.

Keep these things in mind when choosing a font:

  • Does it include both upper & lower case letters- some fonts only have one or the other- which can be a real limitation. You won’t want to use uppercase letters for body text, its too hard to read- however, all caps works great for headings. And unless your brand is very informal and juvenile, I’d stay away from using all lower-case, all the time.
  • Look out for weird characters- Maybe the font overall is beautiful, but it has a weird descender on the “f” or an overly large tail on the “q”. It gets annoying after a while (ask me how I know!), so give these ones a pass.
  • Avoid over-used fonts- Papyrus, Bradley Hand, Copperplate Bold are all examples of fonts that have been around forever and have seen a LOT of use. A good rule of thumb, which a college professor told me: If it comes embedded on your computer, you probably shouldn’t use it. You want your designs to stand out, not look like something everyone’s seen before.
  • For greatest cross-platform use, check out the Google fonts– there’s almost 1000 fonts available, you’ll be able to use them in print and on your website, and best of all, they’re all free. Another source of free fonts is dafont.com, although read the fine print carefully because not all are free for commercial use.
  • Choose one sans-serif (for body text) and one contrasting font for headings- Make sure your body text/paragraph font is simple and readable and save those pretty scripts for headlines and other highlights.
  • Keep it limited- In general, don’t use more than 2 fonts on the same page/graphic, and keep the total number of brand fonts to no more than 3- otherwise, you’ll lose that consistent look.

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