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How To Choose Your Brand Fonts & Typography

How To Choose Your Brand Fonts & Typography

Your logo might be your brand’s first impression, but your typography can quickly become a dealbreaker to potential customers from the second they click on your site or socials. 

Typefaces can be tricky for even the most experienced graphic designers, but it's a key feature you can’t afford to ignore when you’re building your brand.

Sure you might know the difference between serif and sans serif, but do you know if your descender is the right length? Are your stems thick enough, or maybe they’re too thick to flow with your counter? Perhaps the stem is just right, but your bowl and spur are on the loopier side, while your terminals are too rigid.

Confused? You don’t have to be! Keep scrolling to read my 7 go-to type tips for any brand looking to build itself a better image using type.

1. Speak the language

The quickest way to pick the right typeface is to speak the language. By knowing the technical language to articulate the specifics of the type, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for and where to find them. You can find a number of these resources online, however, I highly recommend  “type matters” by Jim Williams for supplementary reading.

If you’re unsure of what to look for, use this list tick off any of the terms you come across:

  • Serif
  • Sans Serif
  • Descender 
  • Ascender
  • Capital Height
  • Crossbar
  • Stem
  • Counter
  • Spur
  • Bowl
  • Terminal
  • Ear
  • Link
  • Loop
  • Tittle
  • X-height
  • Baseline
  • Kearning
  • Leading
  • Rags

1. Use Families

All great typefaces have families. I’m not talking about the kind that embarrasses you at weddings and reunions, although using the wrong type can be embarrassing enough. Typeface families include variations of the same base text (think, ‘Helvetica’) with small variations to the weight, slant, and kerning between letters. 

Rather than using different types for your headlines, sub-headlines, and body text (which can look mismatched and abrasive to the eye), alternating through a singular typeface family can create smoother and more cohesive reading. Using this family across your branding will make your website, content, blogs, and design more uniform and polished.

2. Stick to the grid

It’s true, you don't have to stick to the grid every single time - but you should use it every time type is part of the conversation. Grids are the easiest way to triple-check your text is straight, aligning where you ne ed it to be and evenly spaced. If you’re a whizz at type and looking to experiment with non-uniform or asymmetrical text, there’s no limit to show-stopping designs you might create, but don’t think you can leave those grids behind - the difference between asymmetrical text that looks lazy vs. one that is cohesive and impactful is effective grid usage. With a simple switch to your design program settings, grids will make your designs appear more uniform and aesthetically pleasing, while also demonstrating your eye for detail to potential customers.

3. Your rags don’t need to be raggedy

In case you missed this one on your type vocab list, ’rags’ is the invisible line that follows the edge of a paragraph. When the ends of a text blurb are sporadic in length, it can be unpleasant for the eye to read (and you’re more likely to stop reading sooner). A clean, tight rag means the ends (the right-hand side) of the blurb are closer to a uniformed length which appears more organized but is also easier to read and digest. This edit can be a tricky one, as it may force you to rewrite some of your text, or alter the text box dimensions, or both! Any extra time fiddling now can be the difference between someone sending an inquiry or closing the tab altogether.

4. No Orphan Annie’s

When you have a lot to say, or a big body of text, on a website/blog/page it can be easy to forget about the stragglers. When you leave a singular word, or two, on the final line to close a large paragraph when your sentences otherwise have been 10-15 words long - it sticks out like a sore thumb. Not only does it disrupt the flow of your paragraph, but it’s also a very quick communicator to let readers know you didn’t care enough about the paragraph to remove the ‘orphan’ words. Your type is an investment, the better it can appeal to the brain the better off you’ll be - fiddle now to avoid regret later. 

5. We all need some Space

Running your type from the very edges of your text box might be the most effective way to put as many words on a page possible, but the quality is far greater than quantity. Cramming words in to look like you have more to say is transparent, and will read as such to potential customers. Give your type room to breathe on either side of your text boxes, it’ll make everything easier to read but also reflects that you’re aesthetically conscious and invest time into your self-editing (both incredibly appealing points to future clients). 

7. Jump a Weight class 

If you’re staying in the same type family, but your text is suffering from a bad case of the borings, then type weight might be the answer to your font-based dreams. Changing the weight of a sub-header, sentence, or singular word can add impact and interest without sacrificing the clean and curated image you’ve created by using the same typeface family. By experimenting with weight, you can give your text contrast without compromise. 

Now that you’re caught up on the basics of branding and type, you’ve got the starter tools to rework and polish your text throughout your brand. Any branding expert will tell you fonts are silent communicators, and if you’re not paying attention to what they say to your potential market, you’ll talk yourself out of a sale before you even open your mouth.

Hopefully, this blog post has helped contextualize the importance of typeface within your branding so you can start saying the right thing to the right people, and put your brand where you need it to me.

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