Fonts influence your readers’ perception of your brand. This is why selecting brand typography that conveys your business’s personality and values is one of the key elements of visual branding.
In this article, we will look at the five steps to find a brand font for your business. Plus, we’ll discuss the best fonts for branding, some examples of typography, and more.
Table of Contents
- What Is Brand Typography?
- Reasons Why Brand Typography Matters
- Five Steps on How To Choose the Right Fonts for Your Brand
- Best Fonts for Branding: Additional Typeface Brand Guidelines
- Five Great Examples of Brand Font Use
- 20 Best Free License Fonts You Can Include in Your Brand Style Guide
- Takeaways on Brand Typography
- Brand Typography FAQs
What Is Brand Typography?
Brand typography is a visual element of a brand style guide, or a brand book, that arranges your business's written copy in a legible way and aligns your messaging with your brand personality.
Brand typography is not exactly the same as brand font or typeface, although they are all closely related.
- Typography is the collection of traits that support the design, brand voice, and personality of a business on all digital and traditional channels.
- A typeface is the name of a family of related fonts.
- Fonts are the elements that constitute one typeface, such as weights, widths, and styles.
Branding companies are the most competent and qualified consultants and advisors when it comes to brand typography and other branding elements. The top digital marketing agencies are also adept at figuring out the proper typography for their clients' needs.
Reasons Why Brand Typography Matters
The aspects of a brand such as logo, packaging, emails, documents, website design, and social media imagery include a good amount of typography. So, being such an important part of a brand — how does typography boost a brand?
- Typography Gives the Brand Meaning
- Typography Defines How People Experience Your Brand
- It Shapes Users' Perception and Builds Brand Recognition
1. Typography Gives the Brand Meaning
Typefaces and fonts convey the values and the tone of your brand just like colors do. Typography has diverse connotations and presents what your brand stands for.
Clean, modern, and simple sans-serif fonts reverberate with the audience in a different way than old-fashioned serifs. Monospaced fonts have a technological feel, while script fonts are more personal. That’s why it is important to choose typography wisely and understand why you’re using it.
2. Typography Defines How People Experience Your Brand
Your customers see your brand messaging on TV, online ads, and retail stores and read about you online and in press. They experience your brand through words, and branding is a sum of experiences your customers have with your business.
Positive experiences form positive brand connotations. Typographical mistakes such as small fonts on a website — one of web users’ main complaints — lead to bad brand experiences.
3. It Shapes Users' Perception and Builds Brand Recognition
Typography and fonts affect the way your audience sees and remembers your brand because they are a large part of your visual identity. A memorable typeface is instantly recognizable — think of widely admired brands like Coca Cola-or Disney. They have even created and registered their own typeface as a way of making it a part of their identity.
Think about your own business and audit typography across all touchpoints by asking:
- How does my brand’s typography make me feel?
- How good of an experience is it creating?
- Is it recognizable and memorable?
- What tone does it set?
Five Steps on How To Choose the Right Fonts for Your Brand
A good brand font should be legible, unique, and memorable. It should also work on different platforms and, most importantly, communicate your brand personality effectively. Before you adopt typography, though, you should understand the process of choosing a font.
- Step #1: Define Your Brand’s Personality
- Step #2: Understand the Personality of Every Typeface
- Step #3: Choose a Typeface That Matches Your Brand Personality
- Step #4: Make Sure Your Fonts Meet These Requirements
- Step #5: Think About Budget and Licensing
Step #1: Define Your Brand’s Personality
Brand personality is a cornerstone of a brand identity that also boosts brand awareness. It is a collection of traits that your customers relate and associate you with and remember you for.
Brand fonts and typography, much like other brand components, must be aligned with your brand’s personality. You may have already defined your brand’s personality in concrete terms, but if not — invest time into thinking how you would like your brand to be perceived.
Brand owners, managers, decision-makers, and every member of your team should think in terms of the main types of brand personalities, or brand dimensions, and their common traits:
- Sincerity: thoughtful, kind, professing family values, down-to-earth
- Competence: successful, influential, accomplished, leadership-savvy
- Excitement: daring, carefree, youthful, up-to-date
- Sophistication: prestigious, elegant, upscale, charming
- Ruggedness: outdoorsy, tough, athletic
Once you have established which traits form your brand’s personality, you are prepared to choose the font and typography for your brand that will match it.
Step #2: Understand the Personality of Every Typeface
Font psychology is understanding that every typeface has its own unique traits. They come in categories which are classifications for better identifying and choosing fonts.
The basic font categories and their traits are:
Serif: Traditional, classical, reliable. For brands that convey a sense of respectability and age-long class.
- Times New Roman
Sans-serif: Minimal, clean, contemporary. For brands that evoke a sense of cleanliness and modern directness.
- Droid Sans
Script: Unique, elegant, distinctive. For brands that emphasize their special purpose.
- Alex Brush
Handwritten: Arty, informal, fun. For brands that present themselves as playful and approachable.
- Porcelain Sans Serif
Decorative: Dramatic, stylized, diverse. For brands that aim to be instantly memorable.
Slab serif: Confident, bold, off-beat. For brands with a proven history of quality.
- PT Sans Pro
- Avant Garde
- Dejavu Pro
Step #3: Choose a Typeface That Matches Your Brand Personality
Now that you have established your brand’s personality and have a better understanding of each font category’s traits, it’s time to find a typeface that is the right fit for you. There are different font categories and variations, so when you’re pairing two fonts, you need to be aware of the end result.
Certain typeface pairings and single usage work better for certain brand personalities than others. For instance:
- Minimal sans-serif font makes for a professional and corporate look
- Bold serif headers + nondescript sans-serif subheader conveys a trustworthy feel.
- Thick and rounded sans-serif fonts create a youthful and friendly feel
- Traditional serif font conveys a conservative corporate feel
- Thin sans-serif fonts can be used to make an elegant, high-end feel
Step #4: Make Sure Your Fonts Meet These Requirements
No matter what typography you decide on for your brand, it should have some characteristics that are common for all fonts. Your brand’s typography should be:
- Flexible: Make sure your typography works well across all mediums such as online, print, and mobile devices. Your typography will be a part of your brand identity for years, so you want it to be as flexible and able to apply smoothly to all of these platforms such as print, product packaging, web, and mobile.
- Contrasting: Multiple typefaces should be contrasting, creating harmony in differences. Choosing two typefaces that have a similarity but are different in other areas is a rule of thumb when coming up with an effective brand typeface. Establishing a hierarchy when combining two different fonts is important — which we will discuss later in the article.
- Legible: Your brand fonts must be perfectly legible and readable. Any text you create using your styled fonts should be easy to understand, in large or small letters, as well as lowercase and uppercase. Header text can be somewhat less legible than the main text, but it should be clear and understandable in one glance.
Step #5: Think About Budget and Licensing
The question of sourcing and licensing your brand font is the only thing that remains following the above four steps. Some libraries offer free and open-source fonts such as Font Library, Font Squirrel and Google Fonts. While they are convenient, these libraries are often limited in terms of the volume of fonts they offer.
For a more professional approach to brand typography, licensing fonts can be helpful, but you need to be aware of the individual fees and licensing fees. Also, if you wish to use different typefaces for different platforms — such as print materials, mobile apps, and mobile websites — you would need to obtain separate licenses for each.
Best Fonts for Branding: Additional Typeface Brand Guidelines
Here are additional tips to find the right typeface and make the most of it.
1. Choose Between Open Source, Paid, or Custom Fonts
Paid, open-source, or custom typography? It all depends on the advantages and disadvantages and your business needs.
- Open source typography: Easy to find and play around with, open-source fonts are often the choice of startups and small businesses. Fonts offered on Google Fonts are web-friendly and consistent across all platforms and devices. Their downside is that they are often generic and lacking in character, and they don’t add much to a brand personality.
Pro: Free and easy to get.
Con: Often bland and do not contribute to better brand recognition.
- Paid typography: When you pay for certain fonts, you are ensured a greater degree of flexibility, freedom, and uniqueness of personality. Options are more numerous, and it’s easier to get a font that suits your brand.
Pro: A much bigger variety of fonts that suit your brand well.
Con: Licensing can be costly.
- Custom typography: The best way to truly make your mark and get a font that is a 100% reflection of your brand identity is to create a font of your own. Custom typography provides a unique visual language, but it can get quite expensive. Creating primary, secondary, and tertiary font types is also very time-consuming, which can be a problem if you are pressed for time. However, all the biggest brands have their own typeface — a signal of a successful business.
Pro: Tailored to your unique needs; sets you apart from everyone else.
Con: Time-consuming and expensive.
2. Narrow Down Your Font Options
You may get overwhelmed by what’s out there in terms of typography choices, and by the time you’re done selecting, you may end up with dozens of potential fonts. Narrowing them down to one or two typefaces becomes a challenge. To overcome it, here’s what you should ask yourself.
- Which font is the most distinctive? The first characteristic of a font that defines a brand personality is that it should make you stand out in the crowd.
- Which one is the most flexible? The font you choose must work great across all channels, devices, and platforms and must be responsive.
- Which font is the most complementary to your other brand elements? Which of the fonts would look best paired with your logo and imagery? Look for common traits of these elements and a font, such as round or sharp edges.
- Which font do you think can scale up with your brand? A comprehensive font that can grow with your brand should be your best bet. Think of the characters the typeface has, and does it have all you need? Also, is it available in multiple sizes and weights?
3. Establish Your Font Hierarchy
Once you have decided on your typography and fonts, it’s time to establish a system that aligns them logically in your brand book that will be easy for other users to replicate it. This font hierarchy should be a part of your comprehensive brand style guide that includes clear and relevant examples of use cases.
Your font treatment must be very consistent and not overly complex. The two or three typefaces you choose should comprise:
- A primary font: The default typeface which communicates your brand’s identity, values and personality.
- A secondary font: A typeface that complements the primary font and supports the typographic design system.
- A tertiary font: Font your brand uses for accents.
Each of these fonts has a specific purpose to serve. They also play a specific role in the hierarchy of your design system. Each typeface should fulfill roles like:
- Product packaging
Here are some popular font choices for branding:
- Helvetica is a sans-serif font widely used in branding due to its simplicity, legibility, and versatility. American Apparel and Panasonic are some of the giants that use this font in their branding efforts.
- Garamond is an elegant serif font often used for luxury brands due to its timeless and sophisticated look. Apple, American Eagle, Abercombie & Fitch, Neutrogena, and even Rolex have used the font over time for marketing purposes.
- Futura is a geometric sans-serif font with a modern and sleek look, making it a great choice for brands that want to convey a sense of innovation and forward-thinking. It has been used by brands such as Volkswagen and Supreme.
- Didot is a classic serif font with thin, high-contrast strokes, giving it an elegant and sophisticated appearance. Brands such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Giorgio Armani have all used Didot in their branding.
- Proxima Nova is a modern sans-serif font with a clean appearance that comes in an extensive range of weights and styles, from thin and light to bold and black. Product Hunt, Turkish Airlines, and Mashable are some of the most popular brands that chose this font for their branding materials.
Five Great Examples of Brand Font Use
To put the application of fonts in branding into perspective, let's look at the best examples of brands that owe part of their success to excellent typography.
1. Alfa Romeo
The Italian automotive brand is famous for its class, style, and elegance. The company's font, Apex New, reflects this personality and tone of voice in their messaging while being fit for the trends of the XXI century market.
The 100-year-old historic magazine has one of the most distinctive fonts in journalism and print media. Their clean NY Irvin font is simple and only slightly quirky, providing uniqueness and enticing readers into consuming equally one-of-a-kind content.
An example of a brand doing the custom, proprietary font right. Uber’s commuting services are now a global thing and the custom typography, Uber Move, certainly helps a lot with the brand being instantly recognizable.
Iconic fashion magazine Vogue is among the most influential print media on the planet. The Bodoni typeface was created as a way of experimenting with thick and thin elements blended into a single font. It lends a degree of elegance and drama to the magazine normally associated with these traits.
Geometric and modern Futura font reflects the coexistence of individualistic and mass production spirit of the Bauhaus movement that made it famous. This sans-serif font has made Fedex’s logo one of the most instantly recognizable in the world.
20 Best Free License Fonts You Can Include in Your Brand Style Guide
If you look for a quick and effective solution for your brand typography, then look no further than this list of free fonts in each category, which you can download online for free.
Sans Serif Fonts
Takeaways on Brand Typography
Coming up with brand typography is a complex process that will result in increased recognition of your brand and attainment of consistent brand personality across all channels. You can consult with a package design firm to discuss the best typography for product packaging. But it doesn't stop at that. To find and apply the right font to your business, you should:
- Understand and define your brand’s personality
- Understand the traits and personality of each typography and find the match for your brand
- Decide between open source, paid, and custom fonts
- Make sure the fonts you choose are legible, flexible, complementary to your other brand elements, and can follow your growth
- Establish a hierarchy of your fonts and outline this in your brand book
Brand Typography FAQs
1. What is type classification in typography?
Type classification in typography refers to the categorization and organization of different typefaces based on their design characteristics. It helps designers understand the differences between typefaces and choose the right one for a particular project. There are several systems of type classification such as the Vox-ATypI and the Thibaudeau classification.
2. What are the five basic classifications of typefaces?
The five basic classifications of typefaces are serif, sans-serif, script, display and monospace typefaces.