In this post, I share the 5 steps I use as a professional graphic designer, to choose brand fonts for my valued brand design clients. The infographic below is an overview - share with friends or save for inspiration!
The ultimate goal when communicating through words, is to convey information, ideas and meaning. Equally important to the words you choose, the font you use can influence reader perception and understanding. Like your other visual assets, your font will support the accurate and consistent visual representation of your brand. This is vital for brands that choose a wordmark logo as an iconic representation - like the 'golden arches' that represent McDonald as an example.
The following steps support you to explore different font styles, formatting 'rules' and licensing of use to reputably choose a brand font to represent your business or organisation.
1. Define your brand personality
You need to know the personality that the font will represent...
Use the prompt words on the image below to choose and record at least 3- 4 words that describe your brand personality - traits of your brand. Ask others and gain feedback to learn about the perception of your brand personality as well.
2. Brand trait & font trait
Let's match brand and font traits...
The 6 basic font classifications are; Serif, Sans Serif, Slab Serif, Script, Handwritten
and decorative. Different traits share different context and feeling. There are more and each often has sub-categories, but let's keep it to the basics for now.
Use the image below to grow an understanding of the different look and feel for the basic font groups. Record the style that shares similar traits to the personality of your brand.
For example, if you identified that your brand is informal, artistic, creative and trustworthy, you may choose a Serif and a Handwritten combination. We cover complementary fonts in the next point.
3. Complementary brand fonts
Choosing a font pair will give your brand more flexibility...
Text needs to be easily read and understood. Although you may have a decorative, bold or handwritten font for your logo or main headings, you would not use your handwritten front over an entire blog post. You need a complementary font for large format or small writing formats, as some examples.
Ensuring you have a complementary font that marries with your brand traits, that is
easier to read will give more flexibility while respecting personality and design
Use my own brand font combination - see example above - to inspire you to choose two or three fonts that complement each other - and the personality traits of your brand. These are becoming visual brand assets!
4. Font sourcing and licencing
Before you 'lock in' a brand font...
You need to be aware of licensing, purchase and use – terms and agreements when choosing a brand font. Some fonts may attract a fee for use as your brand font and licencing can differ for print, screen and logo use! Using a reputable font platform will ensure that you are aware of the licensing and purchase requirements.
Three reputable font sites to check out:
Google Fonts www.fonts.google.com
Font Squirrel www.fontsquirrel.com
Font Library www.fontlibrary.org
My favourite site for all things fonts and graphic design elements is Creative Market!
There is no affiliate link here, I just use this site regularly and believe it to be an asset for D.I.Y business brands and entrepreneurs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Many fonts in Canva and other similar design software programs, cannot be purchased for a brand font! Paying for your premium package often only pays to use it in the designs you create. This may affect your ability to Trademark your brand visual assets (logo and typeface) in the future, use for print or digital media such as on your website.
TOP TIP: Find your font, purchase if required, then add to the platform such as Canva to start building your brand kit.
5. Follow the font use rules
Clarity and consistency is key...
Your brand font needs to be used over multiple media formats, while remaining clear
and consistent for brand recognizability and memorability. Here are some rules to guide you as you choose, record and share your brand font/s.
Your brand font needs to support your brand over time. As your brand grows and
develops, your brand elements need to support the growth and development
Weight may be referred to as regular, bold, light etc. Choosing a font that has
multiple weights will give you flexibility for add variation to content design –
without compromising on brand integrity.
People need to be able to read your font over multiple formats – from large bodies
of text that may be in your blog for example. To short and quick attention
grabbers, like in a Facebook Ad banner, for example. Reminder: Choosing complementary fronts can support flexibility, legibility and appeal. Think about the formats your font will be used on. From websites and social media, to print promotion material and even embroidery or screen-printing.
Ensure you have purchased and have on hand, the license that is required to use
your font for commercial purposes. Use the links in this blog or be sure to use repurable sites and sources for font choice.
Your fonts need to be used consistently for the build of brand awareness.
Recording your fonts appropriately will be key to using them consistently. Font files
(downloaded when you purchase a font), can be added to your website, Canva or
other content production apps or programs. Let's look at how to record and share your brand fonts in the next section.
"Typography is two- dimensional architecture, based on experience and imagination and guided by rules and readability." - Hermann Zapf
Recording and sharing your brand fonts
You have researched, chosen, purchased and downloaded some fonts - what's next...
Recording your brand fonts accurately, allows creative use of the fonts, while remaining visually consistent. A brand (even a logo design) service should (in my opinion) include the creation and share of a guide. In my services I have always included a brand guide - for more complex brands with boarder budgeting, and for the new small business, community organisation or entrepreneur on a tighter budget, I include a brand style guide.
Any brand guide should at least include the basics, recording logo formats, typeface (font) and swatch (colour value) information. See the style guide example image below.
Details that need to be recorded:
font family name
specific font name
details about characteristics
character or glyph example
This is where you can use Canva effectively! There are some great templates to create brand guides for the D.I.Y brand designer. You may need a premium account to use the templates, images and certainly to upload your brand assets (colour swatches and fonts) to create a brand kit.
Let's recap the main points to follow/remember...
Establish brand personality and traits
Match with font traits
Choose complementary fonts
Use reputable sources for purchase
Follow the rules and record your font/s
Inspired to create your own brand?
Let's choose a brand swatch palette too...