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With millions of typefaces and fonts available for use, one would assume that identifying and implementing a brand font would be a cakewalk. After all, how difficult can it be to choose a typeface or a font for your brand, and your communication offline and online. Well, quite frankly, it’s not as straightforward and simple as you might think.

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Typography is the technique and art of arranging type, be it for a website, an app, a poster or any other communication medium that has a message to be delivered. Typography plays a vital role not just in Branding but also in design communication. To begin, there is a difference between a font and a typeface. A typeface is a collection of fonts whereas a font refers to a specific style within a typeface.

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In order for a message to be delivered, it requires that the message can be read and understood (i.e. legible) and creates design aesthetic (i.e. creates a mood that attracts a specific audience).

There exist 4 main categories of Type Styles

  • Serif Type Styles

  • Sans Serif Type Styles

  • Script Type Styles

  • Decorative Type Styles

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Serif Type Styles

  • Old Style - The axis of the curved strokes is usually inclined to the left of these font designs. While the contrast of these character strokes is not dramatic, their hairlines tend to be on the heavy side.

  • Transitional - These fonts and typefaces tend to represent a transition between old-style and neoclassical designs. The axes of the curves tend to be inclined and have a weight contrast that is more pronounced than old-style designs.

  • Neoclassical & Didone - In these fonts, the contrast between thick and thin strokes is abrupt and dramatic. The axes of curved strokes are usually vertical with little or no bracketing, making these fonts and typefaces highly designed with clear constructed letters.

  • Slab - These fonts and typefaces are usually very heavy serifs with minimal or no bracketing.

  • Clarendon - These fonts and typefaces are usually short to medium character length with their stroke weight being more obvious. Modern Clarendon Serifs tend to be a little longer in length than earlier designs.

  • Glyphic - These fonts and typefaces tend to have a minimum contract in stroke weight with flaring or triangular shape of the character at their ends.

Sans Serif Type Styles

  • Grotesque - These fonts and typefaces tend to follow a squared or bowl or looped shape in their characters, with a more monotone weight stress across their characters.

  • Square - These fonts and typefaces tend to have more latitude in character spacing and are usually preferred in display designs.

  • Geometric - These fonts and typefaces tend to have geometric shape influences in their characters. There are some that believe that this geometric style can make them a little less readable that their grotesques counterparts.

  • Humanistic - These fonts and typefaces tend to have a strong calligraphic influence and some typographic experts claim that these fonts are the most legible and easiest to read of all the sans serif typefaces.

Script Type Styles

  • Formal - These fonts and typefaces tend to have a formal writing style with many characters having Strongs that connect to each other.

  • Calligraphic - These fonts and typefaces tend to mimic calligraphic writing with some characters connecting with each other.

  • Casual - These fonts and typefaces tend to depict a very informal feel with some character strokes connecting with the next.

  • Blackletter & Lombardic - These fonts and typefaces tend to represent traditional manuscript lettering; before the invention of movable type.

Decorative Type Styles

  • Grunge

  • Psychedelic

  • Graffiti

Decorative fonts and typefaces which tend to have popularity with a strong typographic statement are preferred (usually with Tattoos or Graffiti) due to their unorthodox letter shapes and proportions for dramatic effect. They tend to be sensitive to time and quickly fall out of fashion.

Each of these creates an impression and leads the reader into a desired mood.


  • Serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman) typically give the impression of Authority, Respectability and Tradition.

  • Sans Serif (e.g. Helvetica) connote the more Modern, Stable and Clean.

  • Script (e.g. Brush Script) depict Elegance, Friendliness and Creativity.

  • Decorative (e.g. Phosphate), while creative in nature, communicate a strong need for attention seekers.


So how does one actually choose fonts?


With the millions of fonts available for brands to use, it helps to have a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing and set the mood for your brand. When choosing fonts, keep in mind that eventually you will have to create communication for both offline and online worlds, and hence choosing a typeface that gives you flexibility is important. Start with choosing your preferred primary font. This is the one that your brand will use for all its headlines/ titles, and maybe even sub headlines. The purpose of your primary font is to add an accent, to stand out and influence the overall mood of the communication design.


Getting a fix on the primary font will aid in identifying your secondary font that delivers the message (i.e. the body copy). Your brand’s secondary font helps not only in creating contrast but also complementing the design.


7 key factors to consider when searching for an appropriate primary typeface

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  • Branding

It is important the the font style you choose matches the spirit and character of the brand. If your brand is young and fashionable, it is counter-productive to choose an Old Style or traditional font.


  • Legibility

Customers have neither the time nor the patience to decipher your brand’s message. Ensuring that your typeface is clear, legible and with the least amount of eyestrain will ensure customers get your message on the first go.


  • Large Families

Typefaces that offer large font families will give your brand creative freedom.


  • Character Shapes

Another point to consider is the shape of the font letters. Geometric-shaped letters in the case of a primary font paired with organic shapes can make your overall design a little quirky (which is not bad, if that’s what your brand is going after).


  • Less is More

Care must be taken to ensure that your brand limits its fonts to 1 or 2 typefaces at the most, with a maximum of 3 fonts in the communication. This rule of design is applicable irrespective of whether you are designing for a digital screen or traditional print media.


  • Avoid Trends

Another aspect that marketers need to keep in mind when identifying brand fonts is to avoid trending typefaces and fonts. Trends might seem like a good place to begin or even follow; however a font trend is exactly that. A trend. These types of fonts usually fade out within a year or two which means that you will have to go back to the drawing board once again if you follow a trend. Save yourself the headache and avoid the trend.


  • Category Codes

Keep in mind the category codes of your industry. While it might be tempting to zig while the rest of the industry zags, most often this is a really bad idea. Besides, your Value Proposition to your customers is not in the difference of your font but in the pain point your product/ service solves.


If you’re still unsure about which fonts or typeface your brand should go with, here are 25 classic fonts you could consider first before exploring other options or even designing your own brand/ communication font.

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6 Core Principles when Pairing Fonts

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  • One Typeface - Two Fonts

Usually most family typefaces come in a range of weights (I.e. Thin, Light, Regular, Italic, Medium, Bold, Black etc.). By varying the sizes and weight, brands can actually play effortlessly without having to worry about finding a good complementary font.


  • Contrast to Complement, not to Clash

As humans our eyes gravitate to balance. Font pairing should never be about clash. Two serif fonts or Two san serif fonts that are too similar (i.e. Bold on Bold or Regular on Regular etc.) will not give your brand the necessary balance due to inadequate contrast, just as much as too much contrast will also not give you balance.


  • Height of ‘X’

Fonts having a similar height of the letter X will most often blend well with each other. Unless you’re pairing fonts where their character design styles are so uniquely distinctive with massive contracting qualities.


  • Avoid Doubles

Using two serif fonts together or two script fonts together is usually a bad mix unless the fonts are from the same typeface. The exception however is when pairing two sans serif fonts.


  • Two Pairing Combinations that Work

A Sans Serif heading with a Serif body copy will give your brand a professional look. Heading fonts that are bold usually work well with body copy fonts that are thinner, lighter and even more complex.


  • Three Pairing Combinations that Work

A Serif headline font that is modern and straight works well with the same serif font that is italicized in a smaller size for the sub headline, and paired with a geometric/ straight-lined Sans Serif font for body copy. Keep in might the width and height of characters from all 3 fonts. If it looks off, the problem is in the width and height.

7 Typography Rules to follow during Design

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  • Justification

Good design requires fonts to not just be legible but easy to read. Content in English is most readable when it is Left Justified. Force justified type most often forces letters in words to be spaced out. This in turn makes the words difficult to read as it forces the mind to bridge these spaces before reading the word and understanding the content. It also helps to pay attention to the length of the clip so that it is balanced overall (i.e. the first line and the following lines all have the same length). Avoid indenting the first line of a paragraph too.


  • Align to one Axis

Just as Justification is important, so too is aligning content to one axis (i.e. either the X axis or the Y axis). This should be done irrespective of the font size.


  • Double the Point Size

A good rule to follow between body copy, sub headline and headline sizes (i.e. Hierarchy) is to use the golden ratio of 1.618. If your body copy is 15 points then your sub headline should not be less that 15x1.618 = 24 points. This would make your headline 24X1.618 = 39 points (rounded off). Following a format like this will ensure that there is balance and adequate contrast.


  • Leading

Leading can be a delicate balance between finding the right space between two lines of content. Too close (tight) and it makes the sentence difficult to read, too far apart and it’s just plain hard to read.


  • Tracking

Tracking refers to the space between characters over a range of characters. Negative tracking will compact words while increased tracking adds more white space between characters. A rule of thumb is to increase tracking when headlines are in all caps and reduce it when body copy is in italics.


  • Group using Lines or Shapes

Creating communication buckets helps the eye to smoothly read through content in addition to drawing the eye towards key points that the brand may choose to highlight.


  • Negative Space

Having negative space throughout the design is always a good practice… especially at the corners. There is nothing to be gained by filling every space with content (text/ graphics or images). Remember that negative space improves legibility.


In Closing:

Over the last few years the typography universe has witnessed the development of tens of thousands of fonts (both free and paid). This explosive development continues to blur the lines of type classifications. It is important to mention that while there might be fonts that appear to be both free and paid depending on where you go to download it, the foundry that created it will give you the authentic font.


Typography is an art form that takes practice, and is best left to the well-trained eye. Typography remains a critical element in your overall marketing and communication due to the visual impact it makes on communication. It is through typography that brands deliver their message, attract attention via visual hierarchy, build brand recognition, demonstrate personality, communicate a mood and tone, ensure harmony and consistency and make an impact.

Additional Reading: Product Packaging Design

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