How Typography Impacts Your Brand and How to Pick the Right one

Printing letters and words have come a long way since its first appearance in 1450. From the mechanical typesetting process to today, writing software like Google docs and Microsoft Word allows us to use several different letters and character designs, aka typefaces, to create our daily tasks. 

But, these advancements breed a new dilemma. From the thousands of options available, we ask ourselves, which typeface do we use for our businesses? Take a look at Coca-Cola and Disney’s typefaces. They’re recognizable on any medium you see, and that’s the goal of using typeface designs. Today, there might be half a million fonts across the web as font families and type designers continually grow and companies cash in on a unique branding image.

The sheer size of the database might be overwhelming, yes. But not until you know the practical steps to find your way out of this maze. This article intends to demystify the process of choosing a suitable typeface for your brand. So buckle up and follow along. 

First, let’s define some terms. 

What is typography?

Typography is the art of arranging letters to make them appear clear and beautiful. This arrangement includes selecting the typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line spacing, letter, and word spacing. In short, typography deals with everything about the design and appearance of letters and words. 

What are the elements of typography?

To fully understand typography, you must first grasp the seven essential typographical design elements below.

1. Fonts and Typefaces

A font is a graphical representation of text characters, whereas a typeface is a design style that consists of various characters of different weights and sizes. 

2. Hierarchy

Establishing hierarchy is one of the most crucial principles of typography. Hierarchy aims to create a clear difference between a standard text copy and prominent pieces of copy that should be noticed and read first.

The creation of this element uses sizing, contrast, color, and alignment. The most typical example of a typographical hierarchy is size. Your headings should always be in larger font sizes than subheadings and standard text. Typically, the title is Heading 1 (H1); subheadings would be Heading 2 (H2). Under your subheadings would be Heading 3 (H3) if other topics exist under H2.

3. Color

Color is one of the most exciting elements of typography. This aspect allows designers to unleash their creativity and take their design to the next level. 

Color has three critical components (hue, chroma, and value); a good designer will know how to balance these elements to make the text legible and eye-catching.

4. Alignment

Alignment refers to the process of unifying and composing text, images, and graphics to ensure equal space, size, and distance between elements. When aligning your user interface, paying attention to industry standards is good.

5. White Space

Also known as “negative space,” this refers to the space around a text or graphics. This element is often overlooked and go unnoticed, but proper use of white space ensures the interface is clean and the text is readable.

6. Consistency

Keeping your typefaces consistent is the key to avoiding a messy and confusing interface. When conveying information, it’s crucial to stick to the same font style so the readers understand what they’re reading and you exude brand consistency. It’s okay to play around with hierarchy levels, but it’s good practice to establish a consistent hierarchy of typefaces and stick to it.

7. Contrast

Just like hierarchy, contrast also plays a huge role in conveying which ideas you want to emphasize to your audience. Improving contrast makes your text interesting, meaningful, and eye-catching. Most designers enhance or make creative contrasts by playing around with the different typefaces, colors, styles, and sizes to create an impact.

What is the difference between typeface and font?

We often interchange typefaces and fonts so much that the difference becomes blurry. However, it’s important to distinguish between a typeface and a font. 

A typeface is a set of letters and punctuations with a standard design. Some of the most common typeface groups are serif, sans serif, slab, and script. Though, Helvetica, Calibri, and Arial fall under the typeface group. Yet they are all called typefaces. They have the same designs throughout the alphabet, including characters. 

Fonts, on the other hand, are more specific kinds of typefaces. They can be bold, italic, 12 points, upper case, etc. For example, Bold 12-point Helvetica is a font, the same as Italic 10-point Arial, Light Calibri, etc. A typeface is the umbrella category, while a font is a section under it. 

However, this distinction is not as important as it was decades ago. Publishing goes through a typesetting machine, and the letters are etched in metals or woods. Publishers or typesetters needed to determine the typeface and the font together to create a consistent design throughout the publication. 

How typography impacts your brand

  1. It Affects Brand Perception

Successful branding is partly about presenting an attractive and consistent visual appearance. From the website to typography, brands must deliver a beautiful customer experience. People not only buy because of the products but also because of their personal experience with the brand. An excellent way to give these customers an extraordinary experience is through clear, legible, and beautiful typefaces. After all, their experience creates a chain reaction using word-of-mouth marketing. 

Typography is everywhere in a brand. From the logo design to the website content and packaging, typography occupies much space. So whether you like it or not, customers will have either a positive or negative perception of your brand through the choice of typefaces. Will they consider your brand severe or quirky, energizing or professional, minimalistic or complicated? You may not notice, but typography can help shape these perceptions. 

  1. It influences decision-making

Some typeface designs are overused or overdesigned. Comic Sans, Papyrus, and British Script can appear on personal blogs but never on a professional website, or viewers or potential buyers might not take them seriously. Hence, most successful business brands use clear and legible typography, such as Arial and Roboto, either for the logo or website. 

People are likelier to trust and buy from brands with a good font choice, especially with brands that are consistent with their tone and message. A typeface is another form of visual language. As long as it helps forge connections with customers, it’s critical to the sales process. 

  1. It holds the readers’ attention.

Several things can affect readers’ attention when they view a website: content, persuasiveness, pictures, authority, length, etc. Typography also plays in the background. The characters’ design, space, and size can nudge the readers to finish reading or jump to the following website. 

Studies say the more extensive the fonts, the faster the reading experience. Also, larger font sizes elicit a more robust emotional response, according to a Tel Aviv University study. 

So basically, the kind of typeface evokes emotions. And emotions are what drive sales, right? Hence, you might as well spend some time researching the best typeface for your business that resonates with the target audience. 

How to pick the suitable typeface and fonts:

  1. Know Your Brand Personality

Typefaces are not one-size-fits-all. That’s the reason typefaces grew in number over time. Companies want to brand themselves as unique, hence using custom-made typefaces. 

So choose the right one in an ocean of typefaces. First, you must understand your brand personality. It’s simply choosing words that best describe the brand: professional, artsy, unique, high-end, cheap, minimal, sustainable. 

Write down any words you may want to associate with the brand on a small piece of paper. Think of lively, artistic, ethical, eco-friendly, pretty, etc. 

Think of the customers — what kind of service do you give, what kind of experience? Jot down as many correct words as possible. 

  1. Know the Personality of a Typeface

Depending on their design, typefaces give off different meanings. Once you figure out the brand personality, it’s time to understand the typeface personality. 

Now typefaces might be so many. Yet there are only five major typeface groups from which other specific typefaces belong: serif, sans-serif, slab, script, and decorative. 

  • Serif

Serif is the most well-known group of typefaces. Timeless and classic brands like Time Magazine, The New York Times, and Rolex use this typeface in their logo or website copy. 

“Serif” is the name of the line at the end of every letter stroke: 

This typeface group is the oldest of its kind dating back to Roman antiquity. These days, most company brands use serif styles in the body of text — a copy on a website, a brochure, or an email marketing campaign. 

But for a logo, here are some of the brands that incorporate a serif design:

Companies with longstanding influence, authority, and market share use a serif typeface. 

Serif fonts are classy, literary, high-end, educated, and professional. If those words seem suitable for your brand, go for serifs. In that case, serif works either as a logo or a body copy:

  • Sans-Serif

Sans-serif fonts are more modern as they appeared later in the 19th century. Sans serif designs have a clean, minimalist style. 

“Sans” is a French word that means “without.” Therefore, sans serif is the absence of a decorative line at the end of a character’s stroke — without serif

Sans serifs are generally reliable across all platforms.  You can use it anywhere, in a logo or body copy, print or digital. Different weights can slightly alter the meaning. For example, a Bold serif is attentive and hardworking, and a thin serif means glamorous and noble. 

Big tech companies like Google and Yahoo ditched their previous serif logotypes and replaced them with a clean sans serif style. So for a startup with no established authority, it’s best to stick to a sans serif logotype. 

Here are the most used serifs: Helvetica, Arial, Open Sans, Roboto, and Source Sans Pro

Most websites use a sans-serif typeface in the content. 

  • Slab 

Slab typefaces are different kinds of serif that appeared in the 1800s. They are often extensive and bulkier, with thick serifs or decorative lines at the end of the character’s stroke. Typewriter font is one example. 

The slab serif is famous among posters and flyer designs as it tends to be bold and eye-catching. 

Some long-standing brands use a slab serif logotype. 

  • Script 

A script is a particular group of typefaces derived from a cursive handwriting style. They can be casual and playful, unique and artistic. Hence, you must use this style with intention and restraint. They’re best as logos, not as a body copy, as they can be illegible sometimes. 

Script styles can be formal or cursive. Formal scripts are more graceful, elegant, and fluid, while cursive scripts are a bit loose with thick strokes as if written with a pen or a brush. 

Here are some of the brands’ script-laden logos: 

  • Decorative

Decorative typefaces can be of any style. They’re the most varied kind of typeface group. They’re for brands that prioritize creativity, uniqueness, and playfulness. A decorative typeface may not be for everybody. Decoratives are very specific and unique to a brand. Customize your decorative typeface for the best outcome. Also, decorative fonts apply only to logos, not headers and body copies. Find inspiration from these brands for a stylized logo typeface: 

3. Know Your Budget Limits

Before choosing from the hundreds of font selections, we should first look into what our budget allows. The first action we take is scouring the web for free typefaces. Thank heavens the web has blessed us with several open-source fonts. They’re the best options for startups with a limited budget and design resources. The catch is that everybody uses them. 

Where to Look: 

  • Font Squirrel
  • Font Library
  • Font face Ninja
  • Google Fonts
  • Open Source
  • Type Navigator

The second option is what’s called “primary” fonts. While there are inexpensive options, licensing can be a problem. When you use these paid fonts, you must also pay for the license to use them across all platforms. So the expenses can pile up. Apart from owning the fonts, only a limited number of brands use the same style. 

Find alternative fonts here: 

  • FontShop
  • Linotype Library of Fonts
  • Typekit

The last option is the most expensive: custom-made typefaces. Here, you have the utmost control of the output and the copyrights. Professional designers may stick to your core branding strategies, allowing you to create a unique style and a product relative to your branding message. 

Custom-made is the best way to go if you plan to use a specific design for the long haul and across multiple platforms. That’s what Microsoft thought of when they created the  Segoe, NFL when they designed the NFL Endzone Slab, and Netflix when they made Netflix Sans. 

Where to find designers:

  • BitFontMaker
  • Fontstruct
  • Font Shop
  • Glyphs
  • Robofont
  • MCKL Type
  • Commercial Type
  • OH no Type Co
  • Delve Fonts
  • DesignCrowd

4. Match the Brand Personality with the Right Typeface

Once you have the brand personality and the budget, now is the time to choose which. 

The brand personality is a good starting point. Do you want to be perceived as artistic or out-of-the-box? You might as well go for the cursive edge of the decorative and script typefaces. If you want to be called a timeless brand, shower your web copy with slab or serif typefaces. You’ll never go wrong with a sans-serif for minimal and professional brands. 

While some typeface designs are trendy, it’s better to use a style that will last.  Some fonts are still relevant despite being around for years. Fonts such as Calibri, Gill Sans, News gothic, Akzidenz Grotesk, and many more are classic yet legible designs. 

5. Understand Typeface Hierarchy

Remember: Logo typeface is different from the website body typeface. So you must choose three to four typefaces. Typography involves a hierarchy: from the logo down to the body. 

Some websites play with fonts. Their logo typeface is different from the typeface of the header and the body:

This website combine serif (header and logo) and sans serif (copy) with bold and italic fonts.

However, some websites use  only one typeface throughout:

We can see a consistent serif typeface. 

The logo can have its style separate from the rest of the website. You can use decorative and script fonts for the logo design, but certainly not for the website body. As for the body, you have to use either serif or sans serif. The font, i.e., weight, size, etc., will depend on you. 

Final Thoughts

Unless you use a typeface that is not legible and clear, you will most likely be safe. To say that typography determines a brand’s success is an exaggeration. 

Ultimately, everything trickles down to successfully executing products and services and branding and marketing efforts. Yet it does not mean typography is a world on its own, separate from a brand. They are a vital piece of a good brand, a crucial recipe. It’s just that it doesn’t affect a company as much as other aspects like products, customer service, pictures, and content. 

If you’re a startup struggling with a suitable typeface, you might as well use every brand’s typeface. Don’t go overboard with artistic fonts unless you have the resources and designers to create a complete character design. 

Although it’s easy to look for inexpensive freelance designers from DesignCrowd, you might consider using typefaces free from Google Fonts or make your own logotypes from free logo-making tools. But either way, happy Typeface hunting.

Don’t forget to check out our resources on design as well. Maybe you’re struggling to choose a suitable logo design. Check out our content on the eight types of logos. Or perhaps you want to learn how to create a solid brand identity for your business. We’ve got it right here. Happy branding, and may your designs generate an impact on your market today!