The letters you use in your brand become a large part of your business’s recognition and reliability. Letters are extremely powerful, and help anyone visually communicate quickly and bluntly what we need to say. Letters are a science and an art in and of themselves. The application and study of designed letters is called text typography. Choosing the one correct arrangement of specially designed letters is vital to great design and getting your brand focused and visually powerful.
Fonts & Typeface
As a graphic designer with an affinity for letters, I feel adding the correct definitions of these terms would be appropriate. Most non-designers think of and refer to a style of type as simply a font. It’s everywhere, we have seen the word font to describe the kind of letters we can choose from since we were kids on the school PC writing our essays. A font is actually a specific style of one typeface. When referring to one single style of type, such as Helvetica or Times New Roman, it is a typeface. The different ways you can style that typeface are the fonts. Times New Roman(typeface) Bold 12 pt(font)
Typeface Styles & Correlations
There are 4 basic styles of typeface designs to choose from:
There are more, but these are the basic 4 to get started understanding where to go from typeface choices, as there are many sub-sets to each style.
Serif are typeface with the little feet and hands on the ends of a line. The feet and hands are called serifs.
Serifs have been noted as giving a typeface a sense of authority, formality, business, and fullness, a “texture” if you will. They have been preferred for use in print for books and were even claimed to have been easier to read in large areas of text. Again, science.
It has been said that for reading large amounts of type on a screen, a serif typeface is more straining on the eyes and prevents good readability, especially for longer text, such as digital books, or online courses.
In those cases, it is recommended to use a Sans Serif type, sans being French for “without”, and… serif being the hands and feet, so a type with no serifs.
Script is a typeface which is designed to appear handwritten. They vary in style from formal to casual. They can be cursive, or simply spaced. Since script has such a wide variety of styles, many different brand statements can be made with many different scripts. Script tends to give your image/brand/design a bit of a more personal feel, becoming inviting and friendly, depending on the style. Obviously, the more elegant a script is, the more sophisticated, or chic the brand will appear, while the more handwritten, non-cursive typefaces can appear playful, goofy, loose, child-like/child-friendly.
These are the elaborate, decorative, graphically-focused, uniquely-designed typefaces, typically specific to purpose, for example, designed custom for a company, logo or brand. Display typefaces are typically very recognizable, and if not custom, can be a hindrance to your brand’s unique-ness.
Choosing the Fonts
A designer will typically not choose more than TWO typefaces for a brand. Any more can lead to a scattered, non-branded image, and is really unnecessary. It is usually ok to choose two separate typefaces, one for headers/titles/announcements, etc., and the other for subtitles or main body text. The sweet news here is, you can choose as many weights(fonts) as you see appropriate, if your typeface has those options available!
For example, for my graphic branding images, I have chosen two typefaces for the entire theme, Airline, for my headers and titles, and Roboto for all the other text. I keep the uniform branding by staying with these two typefaces throughout the course, but allow for differentiating sections with different fonts, (e.g.: Roboto Medium, Roboto Regular, etc.) giving the course a complete, clean feel, but staying branded and concise by keeping within the same typeface.Airline is a strong, clean typeface that pairs well Roboto, they are both Sans typefaces, but Airline is a beefed-up guy who can communicate the big things for me, and still has time to listen intently to Roboto’s wishes and dreams.
You want your typeface to reflect your business’s brand identity accurately. You wouldn’t want to be a consulting practice using a bubbly, round typeface, or to be a website for kids games with a formal, all-business typeface, those things don’t reflect what the business is.
Check out the resource worksheet, Brand Discovery, and grab the adjectives you described your business to have. Now take a look at the Typeface-Pairing Guide. If there are adjectives that match a typeface on the sheet, put that typeface on a list. Now go through and consider the other adjectives in relation to your business, if there are any that you feel suit the brand. Write down those typefaces.
Now you have begun a list of choices for your brand’s lettering.
Where to Get Typefaces for My Brand
If you plan on creating a logo from a typeface, I highly recommend purchasing one from a designer, or, taking the time to customize a free typeface to suit your brand. For purchasing typefaces, I use a site called Creative Market. It is the Etsy of graphic designers. Buying a typeface from the designer supports hard-working artists, and gives your brand and edge while standing out from the crowd of Google Fonters.
You can search for typefaces by style, or browse by other criteria. Knowing which style you’d like to have before going on to these websites is very helpful, as typeface-shopping can be an unbelievable time-suck.
Prices range from a couple bucks to hundreds of dollars for one typeface. It is up to you to search and decide, but do remember your business is an investment, and don’t be afraid to invest in the main image everyone will see right away, if you can afford it.
A regular purchase typically allows you to use the typeface as a font and even customize it to suit your needs, but not to own the rights exclusively. (standard/commercial) For a much larger investment, most designers will sell you the exclusive rights to use the typeface and will not redistribute it to other customers, making sure you are the only one business-ing around with this logo, (although, if they have sold some of them previous to your exclusivity, you may run into a few) Though this is not necessary, especially just starting out, to own your own typeface exclusively, but would be way rad!
Other resources for a great typeface are:
Every product/tool released by a designer has some type of licensing to go along with it. Knowing which ones apply to the items you use and what your limitations are is an important step in being a professional.
It is important to find out what the licensing is for each product you use, and understand what you can do with each.
A lot of different platforms have different standards for use, and you will need to take responsibility to find out what the terms are for the designer or company you purchase a typeface or graphic from.
Pay attention to commercial use, attribution and distribution. If I purchase a typeface from Creative Market, they provide standard and extended licensing for a creator to sell their goods under. Most typefaces have a general, creative commons, non-redistribution, non-attribute license policy, but you need to double check how you can use your new products, as each case is different. Some will allow you to purchase all rights to the product, to ensure no one else can use it but you, but it typically comes at a very large price, thousands of dollars in most cases.
Again, find out what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do, it is your responsibility
You can look at Creative Commons for specifics on terms.
Hopefully this has helped you narrow down fonts for your brand, and cleared the way a bit. If you have any suggestions, do comment and let us know what you recommend!
Also, if you are in need of new tools, tips and resources for branding, you can sign up here to become part of the Happix Hookup, a free Resource Library full of great tools like templates, stock photos, and more!