What’s the big deal about fonts? The only important factor for consideration when choosing a font is whether the words are legible, right?
Well, the quick answer is no — followed by a warning to run, because the designers are after you.
There are five standard type classifications, but some estimate at least half a million different fonts. That’s a pretty crazy number, and more are being designed all the time.
If a graphic designer had to go through each and every one to select a great font for every logo she worked on, it would be impossible to complete the task!
Luckily, it’s easier to weed out the ones you don’t want and corner the ones that are good contenders. The trick is to apply these five tips as you go through the process.
Tip One – Stick With The Brand’s Style
One of the foremost considerations in designing a logo is how well it reflects the personality and aesthetic of the brand. Since a logo is the primary identifier of the brand it represents, it’s important that the individual elements and overall messaging fits that brand.
This applies when choosing a font, too. Fonts have a lot to say — certainly more than just the words they spell out! Fonts can be used to express the personality of the company. If the font doesn’t harmonize with the brand’s values, or worse, if it clashes, you could end up with a dissonant logo that stands out only for poor design, rather than excellent representation. And that’s not something that anybody wants.
When choosing your logo font, take a look at the research on the psychology of font. Basically, it can be broken down like this:
Though those are simply outlines, it should make it easier to ensure that you select a font type that fits the business you’re designing for. Once you’ve got the general type down, it’s that much more simple to search through for the right tone and look of an individual font.
Design writer Cameron Chapman recommends “making a list of keywords that represent the brand,” and allowing that to guide you as you search through your chosen font type.
Tip Two – Take Graphics Into Consideration
Are you designing a pure logotype? Did someone come to you because they were searching for alphabet letter logos? Or is your design a little more complicated by the inclusion of graphics?
Combination logos, which use both lettering and a graphic element, are widely popular and used in a variety of different markets. They’re effective at promoting new brands, in particular.
But combination marks do mean that your font choice has some competition for the center of attention.
That being said, it’s best if it isn’t really viewed as a competition, but a chance for the two elements to work together in harmony to make the best and biggest impression on the viewer. Make sure that your font choice doesn’t clash with the style of the graphic; both font and image should match the brand personality, as mentioned in tip one.
Tip Three – Compare With The Competition
Our third tip can be distilled into this one all-important factor: uniqueness.
The fact is that fonts tend to trend just like any other design element. So certain fonts enjoy the public’s favor at certain times, especially vintage or throwback fonts; and even within those larger, more general trends, you can find trends in niches and individual markets.
If you’re designing for a brand with competition, check into what the competition is doing in terms of font choice. You don’t want a logo that looks like a copycat — you don’t even want the font to be similar to others. There are plenty of fonts out there; make sure that you pick one that stands out from the crowd.
Market research is important for all aspects of logo design, but font choice tends to get lost along the way. Don’t let it slip through the cracks.
Kenneth Burke of Text Request suggests that designers build off trends that are already in place and use them to help lead the way to new and unusual design ideas. “Use your competitors’ decisions as a set of checks and balances to help you make better decisions.”
Tip Four – Ensure Legibility
Legibility, readability, and kernability — all three of these are important factors that determine how “user friendly” a logo is.
Cameron Chapman notes that these factors are not interchangeable. “Legibility refers to how easy it is to distinguish letterforms within a font. Readability…refers to how easily different words can be distinguished and read.”
Kernability, meanwhile, has a lot more to do with the actual design of the letterforms, and how well they present when separated, or kerned. The more kernability a font has, the more likely it is to work well in a logo. Well-kerned content can be stretched apart, allowing more space between each individual letter. This boosts both legibility and readability, as well as allowing for a unique logo aesthetic.
Tip Five – Try, Try, Try Different Fonts
A final tip: don’t stop until it’s done.
Design is a fluid thing, and it’s very rare that a designer stops at the first iteration. That’s just as true for font choice as it is for any other element.
Your instinct may lead you in one direction, but with such a wide scope of fonts to choose from, it’s unlikely that it will point you at exactly the right choice. Don’t be afraid to try a variety of fonts, and even a variety of font types.
An important note, however, is to avoid combining too many fonts in the logo design. Experts recommend no more than two or three, and most effective logos have only one or two. Too many different fonts in a small space will just end up overwhelming the logo, which will cut down on the memorability, legibility, readability, and other important factors.
You’ve got a lot of fonts to choose from — but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take your time, understand the inherent messages of different font types, research your competition, and iterate. You’ll finally land on the right font for your logo — guaranteed!
I love writing. If someone asks who Anthony Scott is my colleagues and friends will tell you that I’m a geek into gadgets, photography and software. I like to find out how things work, and if possible write about it. I’m new in this field of content writing, and I hope I can succeed in convincing readers with my writing.
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I'm Alex, your lead designer and creative director. I have been working in the creative business for the past 10 years, loving every minute of it. I fill my work with modern typography, lots of white space, and trendy color schemes. When I'm not hunched over my Mac you can find me at the dog park with my dog Oakley, or trying a new restaurant with friends.