Brand typography: how to pick killer fonts

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Let’s talk about fonts baby, let’s talk about brand identity. Let’s talk about all the good fonts and the bad fonts and Amatic SC. Ok, I’ve got a dose of silliness out of my system so now we can get into the nitty-gritty of brand typography, and how to choose the right fonts for your brand identity.

Oh I totes lied BTW, there will be much more silliness.

The power of an effective brand is amplified by its consistency, and diluted with inconsistency. When your stationery, website, social media, market stand and Etsy shop are in harmony, your brand is more memorable and just looks prettier.

And yet, the most obvious and probably most common slip up I see with small creative brands, is a propensity to choose new fonts for every project. If this sounds like you, stop it. Ssssstop it. Choosing your brand fonts can take as little as five minutes, and will add an extra layer of professionalism and prettiness to your business.

Before I get in too deep, I want to give a shout-out to my favourite typography resource, Typewolf. This stunning mauve website is full of insane inspo and expertise from expert designer and man with extraordinarily cool name, Jeremiah Shoaf.

I’ve worked on countless branding projects, and I don’t think there’s been a single case where I haven’t referred to Typewolf, so check it out yo.

Fantastic fonts and where to find them.

Fun fact: I’ve never seen/watched/read anything to do with Harry Potter. But I do ruddy love a good pun.

When sourcing your brand fonts, you want to choose a family which is robust and affordable. There are some absolutely stunning free faces out there, and I suggest checking out the AWWWARDS Free Font Collection, Pixel Surplus, and Creative Market for regular, beautiful additions.

However. These new fonts, although beautiful, have their limitations. Some are intended for display use (e.g. logos) and so lack special characters and punctuation. Others are free only for personal use, and it’s incredibly important to be 100% sure you’re using a font legally to both respect the designer and protect your business.

As a small business, I only recommend choosing your brand fonts from two font markets: Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit. Both services provide high quality fonts with almost universal support. Google Fonts has the added bonus of being hella free, and Typekit offers hundreds of options under one very generous and reasonably priced licence fee.

The rest of the article will contain a lot of examples from the Google Fonts library, as I’m hella cheap and it’s my go-to font resource.

Great bodies

I ruddy love a lovely body font. This is the family you use your long form content, like this word you’re reading right now, or the next one: farts. Long gone are the days of Arial/Helvetica vs Times New Roman, there’s a whole new world of stunning, readable body fonts out there. Fonts that add character to a brand as a subtle yet unavoidable feature.

One of my absolute favourite fonts is Karla, as used by our PR buddies LFA. Karla is an Indian-inspired latin font with just enough character to be noticed without being imposing. Work Sans, Chivo and Rubik are similarly subtle-yet-lovely sans serif options.

You shouldn’t be afraid to go classic either with serif fonts like Cormorant (I love cormorants) and Libre Baskerville. And you can go all out with a modern monospace (typewriter-style) font like my fav Space Mono which you can see via our recent website project for Bristol-based fashion brand Pair of Peaches.

Body fonts don’t need to need to stand out, with options like Lato and Open Sans which are freaking everywhere, but they do need to be consistent. So pick a great body, and get overly familiar.

One or two header fonts

Some website builders allow you to have up to six different levels of headings, from page titles or H1s to H6. This does not mean that you should choose 6 different heading fonts, as again, consistency is key and as your mum always said, just because you can – doesn’t mean you should.

I like to use a single heading font, but appreciate the combo of a slab serif with a loosey goosey sans serif. The key here is to make sure the fonts you use work together with continuity, someone reading your blog posts or product descriptions should be able to recognise your headings and subheadings, and assign content hierarchy without thinking.

Handwritten by not you

Handwritten fonts have their place, and that place is rarely on your website. Handwritten fonts are great for logos, social media and advertising.

I generally dissuade including a handwritten font in the primary online brand identity as they’re the least readable, most difficult to format consistently and can lead to a twee, handmade feel. The exception is in graphic images, like the pin-able images that should accompany blog posts or single or two-word callouts.

Still, you should be consistent in your handwritten font choices. Choose no more than two complimentary handwritten fonts and use sparingly.

Fonts Aime hates and why

A bit of a different sign off for this blog post as during the writing process I kept being reminded of all the fonts I hated. So enjoy a least of my least favourite fonts for most dumb reasons.

Raleway: I find the criss-crossy ‘w’ to be too arrogant
Josefin Sans: In my experience, the go-to font men pick for feminine brands
Poppins: This font always tricks me into thinking I like it, but I don’t
Nunito: Nunito Sans is better, why have both?
Lobster: If I see one freaking more logo which is just the business name written is this font…
Amatic SC: This font is freaking everywhere.

This article is part of our September 2018 challenge: 30 five-minute tasks for marketing a small brand. Check out our blog for more, or follow Studio Cotton on Instagram for more tips and lots of plant pics.

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