Home | Branding | How to: Choose Fonts for your Brand

How to: Choose Fonts for your Brand

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Branding, Business

A person in a knitted sweater and jeans holds an open book. The text overlay reads, "HOW TO: CHOOSE BRAND FONTS FOR YOUR BUSINESS." The logo at the bottom says "broadbent studio".

So you are going to choose a font for your latest poster or Instagram post and you are having a hard time picking just one. It is a hard decision not only because there are so many.  But fonts can change a message’s meaning very easily. For instance, you don’t want to write a love note using a font that looks like it’s from a horror movie. This is why it is very important to choose the right font for your brand. You want to make sure it matches the tone and messaging of your brand to communicate effectively. I have broken down my thought process for you of how I choose my fonts for clients. So you can do the same!  I like to start with a long list of potential fonts and compare them to each step of the process. 

Step 1: Feel and Vibe 

Brand Mood Board Example
Branding Moodboard Example

One of the first things I like to think about when I am choosing a font for a brand is how it will fit together with the general feel and vibe I am going for. The feel of the brand need to align with your target audience, and business values. 

It is also very important to keep your target audience top of mind when finding inspiration and choosing your fonts. When you know who you are serving. You can cater everything you do in our business towards them. That way your brand can align with their likes and values. Keeping this in mind will also allow you to narrow down your choices. A great source of inspiration is the visuals your audience likes on social media. Have a look and see what kind of imagery and fonts they use online.

Visually represent the vibe and feel with a mood board.

I like to use Pinterest to visually represent my brand and create a collaborative mood board to represent the vibe of the brand. It is very easy to collaborate with my clients and to quickly gather various images. Once you have a lot of inspirational content on your Pinterest board you will start to see some similarities and themes throughout the visual. You may notice you pin a lot of elegant, simple and feminine designs. At this point,  you can start to compare the fonts you like with the rest of the images and see how they will fit together. 

To go a little bit deeper into the feel and vibe of your font choice for your brand. You can also consider the personality of the font you would like to use. For instance, a sans-serif font is very modern and simple. A sans-serif font with curvy shapes, such as Monseratt or Raleway, can be very feminine. Whereas a sans-serif font that is bolder and straight-lined, such as Impact or Helvetica, can be more masculine. 

If you are looking for a sophisticated font, then a serif font would be an excellent choice. They are very classic and timeless. Fonts such as Merriweather, Garamond and Playfair Display are great choices for brands that want a more sophisticated vibe. 

Step 2: Usage 

Once you know what kind of vibe you want your font to have. Next, figure out where you are going to be using the font. This is when you start to think more clearly about what kind of branding collateral your business will need. Will you have a website? Will you have a large sign in the front of your store or in a display window? Do you want to have pens or buttons made? Are you going to be conducting business more online or offline?

These are all very important questions to ask yourself. Knowing where you will use the font will help you dwindle the list of possible font choices even more. If you are going to be conducting your business mainly online. You will want to think about what kind of fonts your website hosting service will support. I recommend double-checking to see if the fonts you are looking to use are available on the website platform you’re using. It is sometimes possible to add your fonts to websites. But if you are DIY-ing your website, I would recommend sticking to fonts that already come with the builder. Most website builders can use most Google Fonts or Adobe Fonts. 

But don’t fret, if you fall in love with a font that cannot be used online.

You can choose a similar font to your original choices. You can research different font alternatives for your chosen font. For example, Futura isn’t always available on web platforms, but Raleway is a great alternative that looks similar. 

When thinking about your print material it is best to think about what you use daily. Will you be using more stationary like business cards and paper? Or will you be using signs and billboards? Choosing a font that works well in both large and small scale uses will give you the most bang for your buck. 

Step 3: Readability 

This leads me to my next point, Readability. Which refers to how easily the font can be read. Once you figure out the usage of your font you can test its readability. 

First, make sure the font can be easily read in small and very large settings. 

Another consideration some people miss is using the font physically and digitally. Since some fonts are designed specifically for use in print and not a screen and vice versa. When a font is specifically designed for print use it can be hard on a reader’s eyes when reading digitally. The designer of the font, usually states the intended design usage in the font’s description. They will sometimes say sometime like “this font was designed to heighten the print experience.” If this is the case then it may be beneficial to your audience to choose a different font. 

When your messages are easy to read. Your audience won’t struggle to understand what you are trying to communicate.

Step 4: Versatility 

So now that you have a shortlist of fonts that will fit your vibe, usage and are easy to read. I like to further narrow down the list to fonts that have a large family. Meaning there are a lot of different style options within the font.  Such as bold, italic, regular, super bold, and really thin versions. The more versatile the font. The fewer you need for your business. Since there are a lot of different style options.

Choosing a font family with 7+ typefaces in it is ideal to allow you to have a lot of options when we are designing different things. Some fonts will only come with one typeface and this will severely limit you to what you can do with the font. You should also look for fonts with a lot of different characters. These will give you more freedom when creating different designs, as well as, a wider usage for a variety of languages. 

Step 5: Contrast 

Image of an old neon pastel bar sign
Example of contrasting fonts

With your list of potential fonts, you can start to narrow it down to a pair of fonts. It is best to pairs will have one font used for headings and another for body copy.

I like to choose fonts that have high contrast from each other. If your fonts look too similar then your designs will look a little off. I will give you a few examples. 

Verdana and Arial Pairing 

For example, if you use Arial and Verdana in the same brand. These fonts are very similar letter compositions,  x-heights and lines that make them look too similar. 

Sacramento and EB Garamond Pairing

It is best to choose a couple of fonts from different categories if you are going to have more than one font. For instance, a serif font, such as EB Garamond, paired with a script font, like Sacramento. 

EXPERT TIP –  Make sure the small letters and width of the lines that make up the letters are about the same size in your font pairs. This will create a more cohesive design because visually there will be fewer elements. 

Step 6: Licencing 

Another thing to consider when choosing your font for your brand is the licensing requirements and copyright usage laws. 

It is important to know not just any font can be used for your brand. You must first check that the font can be used for commercial purposes. When you are choosing your font, look for the license or copyright section. Make sure it states it can be used for commercial use. You cannot use fonts that are only deemed for personal use in your brand. Personal use would be considered creating a sign for your front door or a card for your grandmother, not business brandings. 

So once you have narrowed down your options of a font pair that will meet all of these qualifications. You are ready to start using them in your brand. 

Choosing fonts for your business requires a lot of thought and planning. But once you have chosen the perfect font that portrays to right vibe and meaning behind your messaging. You can continue to use it for years to come. It is also very important to stick to the same fonts over and over again to create consistent visuals and brand recognition. 

Happy Font Hunting!