The Psychology of Typography

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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.

Serif Fonts

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.

Sans Serif Fonts

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

sans Serif_logos

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.

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Slab Serif Fonts

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

slab serif_logos

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 It has typewriter style attributes and a geometric elegance that will turn any header’s frown upside down.

Script Fonts

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.

Modern Fonts

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.

pinterest infographics-03

Check out our latest blog on The Psychology of Colour.



7 thoughts on “The Psychology of Typography”

    1. Helvetica is one of the Top 5 Sans serif fonts as mentioned on the list above. It’s definitely one of my go-to fonts.

    2. Thanks. Helvetica is one of the top sans serif fonts as mentioned in the list above. Definitely a go-to in many projects for me.

  1. The words “font” and “typeface” are used interchangeably these days. There is a distinction though. A typeface is a design for letterforms. A font is the implementation of a complete character set of one typeface, weight and style. Palatino is a typeface. The Palatino type family is made of of many different fonts, i.e., Palatino Roman, Palatino Bold, Palatino Bold Italic, etc.

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