One of the key elements of branding, alongside things like your logo, colours and imagery is the typography. Typography is known as “the art or procedure of arranging type or processing data and printing from it;” essentially the arrangement of text in an engaging, interesting and legible way.
Typography is used all throughout your brand, from your logotype, to your website, social media graphics, printed collateral and more, so it’s important to get it right. One of the main ways to do this is to choose the best fonts for your brand, but how do you know which font to use?
If you’re choosing a font, it’s probably a good idea to know what that is first, and in fact, you actually want to be looking for typefaces!
“A typeface is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features.”
In a nutshell, a typeface is made up of different fonts. For example, a typeface like Helvetica is made up of different fonts such as roman, italic, heavy, bold etc. These different fonts make up the typeface.
“Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation”
A good analogy to help understand this, is to think of it like songs on an album. An album and it’s songs are both music by the same person and in the same style, but each song is individual and those songs make up the album. The typeface is like the album and the fonts are like the songs. Another way to look at it is that they’re all a family where the fonts are the different siblings within that family.
Typefaces are sometimes even called a font family, especially in web-development where that’s the class name. The concept is the same: the font-family is Helvetica, but within that are the different variants of weight and size.
To choose the best fonts for your brand, you want to be looking for a typeface that contains a variety of fonts, which I’ll talk more about soon!
“Your choice of typefaces is as important as what you do with it” — Bonnie Siegler
Typefaces are broken up into different classifications such as serif, sans serif, script, monospaced, blackletter and more, which help to categorise them and make it easier for you to choose the ones best suited for your brand and its values.
The typeface you use massively affects the mood you’re trying to create, what you’re trying to say, how you’re making people feel and what you’re trying to remind them of, so it’s important to choose the right typeface for the job and know what you’re looking for.
Choosing a gothic blackletter typeface for a children’s apparel company for example, is going to send the wrong message completely and probably scare people away from purchasing! And using a super ornate script calligraphy typeface for a futuristic event probably won’t attract the right audience.
Max Phillips rightly explains that “type is what meaning looks like.” There are so many connotations associated with the typeface you use, so choose wisely, understand why you’re using each one and what it will convey to the reader.
“Display type is a visual voice. Without reading, it imparts its message” — Laura Worthington
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to look out for typefaces that offer a variety of fonts when searching for the perfect one for your brand. Choosing a typeface with different weights and styles will enable you to use the fonts more flexibly and effectively, and will offer a wider range of uses. A typeface can include weights from ultra-light to ultra-heavy as well as italic options too, all of which will help to ensure the longevity of your typeface choice because you won’t need to keep changing typefaces in the future due to a lack of options.
One of the most important things to take into consideration when choosing fonts is the licensing of the typefaces, because if you get this wrong, you could get into a lot of legal trouble.
Each font, no matter where you get it from, will have a license attached to it. Some will be licensed under Creative Commons, meaning that they could be free to use in any situation; some may be free for personal use but require payment for commercial use; others can require payment for any use. There are a lot of variations in between these options, so just check what the foundry or store you are buying from says and follow their rules to make sure you stay out of legal trouble!
Another thing to consider is how easy the typeface is to use and share among your team. If you are working with developers, designers or anyone who will need to use the font, it’s important to make sure they can use and access your font files. With some, this will be free and easy, which is what you want, whereas, with others, you may have to pay for more people to use the typeface or it might be a complicated process to share them or use them in your website build or collateral designs.
Be on the lookout for fonts that allow multiple users, are easy to use and don’t cause a hassle!
There are hundreds of sites online that offer typefaces, but in order to quickly and easily find quality ones that will be best for your brand, these two are my go-to recommendations!
If you or your designer are already using Adobe Creative Cloud, then Adobe Typekit is probably the best place to start. These fonts are included within your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, available on the web or in your desktop applications, and allow you to freely use any font without worry about licensing.
You can download or sync full typefaces or individual fonts, search by classification, and sort by the various font properties, and easily apply these fonts to your website or designs in minutes!
All fonts in the Google Fonts catalog are free and open source, and they take care of all the licensing and hosting for you, so you don’t have to worry! Browse over 800 font families, sort via categories, styles and properties, and then download, embed or code your chosen fonts for whatever use you need!