The Psychology of Typography
How do you pick the right font for your brand?
It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion about your website, according to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Typography plays a huge role in developing a strong brand identity and a solid first impression. Different fonts convey different messages.
Fonts can be divided into roughly five categories: Serif, Sans-serif, Slab serif, Script and Modern.
So how do you know how to pick the right font for your brand?
I’ll explain below.
Associations: authority, tradition, respect, and grandeur
Top 5: Times New Roman, Bodini, Georgia, Garamond and Baskerville.
Popular serif logos: Time Magazine, Gap, Yale, and The New York Times
When to use: On your resume, in the body text of an editorial, or when you want to give your research paper that extra assurance of success.
When not to use: on your child’s birthday party invitations, as the heading for your health and beauty blog, or anytime you are out of the office, newsroom or university really…
My recommendation: Use Baskerville in the body text of your next publication. Studies show that people are most likely to agree with a statement when it is presented in Baskerville.
Associations: clean, modern, objective, stable, and universal
Top 5: Helvetica, Verdana, Arial, Century Gothic, and Calibri
Popular Sans-serif logos: Microsoft, Evian, Chanel, and Nike
When to use: as your corporate presentation header text, for extremely small body text (sans-serif fonts are more legible from far away), when you want to emphasise a single word, and as the body text on your website (sans-serif fonts are more legible than serif fonts when read on a computer screen).
When not to use: There are very few instances in which it is not okay to use a sans-serif font. These mainly pertain to whether the text is read on screen or on paper. If you are unsure which font to choose, a Sans-serif may be your best bet.
My advice: You can’t go wrong with Century Gothic. When in doubt, this chic font will always pull through for your brand. Use it as header text for your next report and pair it with Adobe Garamond Pro for the body text.
Associations: Bold, Strong, Modern, Solid, and Funky
Top 5: Rockwell, Courier, Museo, Clarendon and Bevan
Popular Slab serif logos: I ♥ NY logo, Volvo, Honda and Sony
When to use: on your next billboard ad, when printing on poor quality paper (slab serif fonts are known to be most legible in cases of poor quality printing), and when you want to attract attention in general
When not to use: on your afternoon tea invitation or in the body text on your website.
My advice: Download Josefin Slab from googlewebfonts.com. It has typewriter style attributes and a geometric elegance that will turn any header’s frown upside down.
Associations: feminine, elegant, friendly, intriguing, creative
Top 5: Lobster, Zapfino, Pacifico, Lucida and Brush Script
Popular Script Serif Logos: Cadillac, Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Instagram
When to use: on your holiday greeting card, on the place cards for guest tables at your wedding, and as the font for your creative company’s logo.
When not to use: in body text, as a sub-header, or for anything even remotely corporate.
Disclaimer: Use this font with caution! A script font may lure you in with its fancy and artful musings, but do not succumb to its beauty. Script fonts should be used very sparingly.
My advice: The font Papyrus is considered a script font. Never use this font. Ever. No exceptions.
Associations: exclusivity, fashionable, stylish, sharp, intelligent
Top 5: Inifinity, Eurostyle, Majoram, Matchbook, Politica
Popular Modern logos: Hulu, Shutterfly, NARS and Facebook
When to use: on your hipster photography blog header, for your designer sunglasses company logo, and when you want to attract the attention of Millennials.
When not to use: as the body text in your report, in conjunction with a script font, and on anything you are giving to your grandmother.
My advice: Facebook’s logo is based on the Modern font Klavika. Sneak this font into your work and your audience will feel right at home.