It’s all about choosing an “outfit” that fits your brand.
Some fonts are more casual and expressive, while others are more buttoned up and reserved.
Choosing the wrong font can completely change the personality of your brand thus giving people the wrong impression about your company.
In the example below, you can see that by just changing the font on these iconic logos to Comic Sans the personality and feel of these brands completely changes. Brands that looked clean and refined now look childish and playful.
That’s why choosing a font that compliments your brand is so crucial. You want to make sure people have an accurate perception of your company.
So where should you start with choosing a font?
Before you can choose a specific font, you need to understand the different categories of fonts. While there are a ton of different categories, such as script, display, gothic, the two main categories are serif and sans serif.
Serif vs Sans Serif: What’s the Difference?
Understanding the difference between these two categories will help you start narrowing down which one is right for you. Fortunately, recognizing the difference between the two is pretty easy.
The answer is simply in the name.
A serif is a decorative stroke that finishes off the end of a letters stem (sometimes also called the “feet” of the letters).
In turn, a serif font is a font that has serifs, while a sans serif is a font that does not (hence the “sans”). Simple, right?
Notice the difference in the example below.
The serif font is more ornamental and has serifs extending from the ends while the sans serif font on the left has clean and very precise ends.
Both of these styles have their own unique personality and communicate very different messages.
Now that you understand the difference between serif and sans serif fonts, let’s dive deeper into the background and psychology of each style of font.
Serif Fonts Say Traditional, Established, and Trustworthy
Serif fonts have a history that dates all the way back to the 18th century when stonemasons would carve letters into rock.
Today, we see a lot of serif fonts in traditional mediums such as newspapers, magazines, and books. That’s why serif fonts are typically seen as more classic and refined and are used by companies who want to exude these traits.
As mentioned above, the most notable characteristic of serif fonts is their decorative tails and strokes.
Serif letters also commonly use strokes that vary in weight meaning some areas of a letter may be thick while others are thin.
Some of the more notable examples of serif fonts include Georgia, Garamond, Times New Roman, and Baskerville.
Let’s take a look at some serifs in action.
Examples of Serif Fonts in Design:
Dawson | Orr
Dawson | Orr is a Florida-based law firm that has more than 60+ years of experience. They use a serif font to show people that they are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to helping them with their litigation needs.
The use of serif in their logo and headers, give you the feeling that their team is established, educated, and going to take your case seriously.
In the early days of Apple, the tech giant primarily used a serif font in its branding before eventually switching to a more modern looking sans serif font.
Look at the two examples below. Which one looks more like the cutting edge industry leader we all know today?
Overall, you want to ensure that your font (and all of your design choices for that matter) reflect your brand.
Choose the Font That Exemplifies Your Brand
When used properly and chosen for the right reasons both serif and san serif fonts can be effective. What’s most important is choosing a font that’s right for your brand.
It’s all about finding a font that will give people the right first impression and continues to embody the qualities of your brand.
While there’s no one size fits all solution to picking the right font for your brand, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help you make the right choice:
1. Don’t Overload Your Brand With Too Many Fonts
It can be easy to want to choose a ton of fonts to use in your designs, but doing so can actually hurt your brand.
A rule-of-thumb to follow when choosing fonts is to stick between one to three different fonts.
Any more than that and your designs will begin to look cluttered and you’ll run into the issue of the different fonts starting to compete with one and other.
That being said...
2. Choose Fonts That Have the Right Amount of Contrast.
Choosing multiple fonts for your brand can be an effective way to create hierarchy in your designs. However, choosing two fonts that have the right amount of contrast while still working together can be tricky.
Online design tool Canva suggests finding fonts that have a shared quality. For example, maybe two fonts that have a similar letter height or width or fonts that are created by the same designer. Merriweather and Merriweather Sans are a good example of two fonts that contrast each other nicely, but still feel cohesive.
These fonts were both created by the same designer so they share a lot of similar qualities in the spacing and shapes of the letters that help the fonts feel more related.
3. Look for a Font With Multiple Weights and Styles
A font that has multiple weights and styles (such as light, semibold, bold, etc) makes the font more versatile and allows you to communicate different messages throughout your designs with a single font.
4. There are no hard set rules.
Companies that are more traditional don’t need to stick to only serif fonts and vise-versa.
While serif fonts are associated with being more traditional and sans serif fonts are typically more modern, there are always exceptions to the rule. It’s all about HOW you use the fonts.