Type is a powerful tool. It conveys emotion and impact on a subtle, almost unconscious level affecting our response to the words we read. When used correctly, it helps to further aid your message and connect with your specific target audience. If used incorrectly the results can be disastrous! With over 500,000 typefaces in the world how can we possibly decide which to use?
As a designer at Drew I’m going to show you how I whittle down the options and make the perfect choice for each client.
It takes two
When you’re selecting a typeface, It all comes down to two basic principles:
- How does this type make me feel?
- How does this type work?
Both of these points are equally important. Otherwise, you might end up with a beautiful typeface that’s not legible for the size you’re using it at, or conversely, it’s functional but lacks the character and charm needed to stand out.
When you first see a typeface you’ll have an emotional reaction, much like viewing a work of art, take a look at the example below and choose which is the most appropriate typeface for a doctor:
We’re more likely to trust the example on the right they seem more practical and serious, the strokes of the typeface are all the same width giving it a uniform effect. Whereas the typeface used on the left seems lighthearted and quirky due to the eccentric swirls (maybe not someone we want to be treating us for an illness).
Even if we know nothing about type we are still aware when a typeface we are familiar with changes. See the example below of the cover of Vogue:
These three typefaces, Mighty Slab, Gin and Raleway all communicate something different to the viewer. The first is retro, with its bold groovy letters. The second is more severe due to its pointy edges. The third feels modern because of its geometric letters.
Similarly, if we were to change Netflix’s typeface…
The first example becomes more serious (Garamond Premier Pro), the second becomes sporty (Bree Serif), and the third more cartoonish (Mendl Sans VF). These examples above show that changing the type of a well-known logo can dramatically shift the viewer’s perception of the brand.
At Drew it’s my job as a designer, to help steer the audience by creating the most appropriate emotional response for the clients brand. I take into consideration the keywords driving the company, its brand story and who their customers are/ who they want to be talking to.
When I’m choosing a typeface I’m also considering if it will work for its application. Will it be used as signage needing to be extremely legible from a distance? Is it going to be used for an ingredients list on packaging? Will it be used mostly for print or digital?
Imagine we’ve found the perfect typeface for our logo, it’s intriguing and communicates everything we want it to there’s just one problem it only has one weight. 😱
This is where multiple weights come in. 💪 Weights are the overall thickness of a typeface’s stroke in any given font e.g. regular, bold or light. They offer flexibility to designers, meaning we can create hierarchy in a design using a single typeface. See the example below of the difference between a typeface and a font, using Drew’s secondary typeface Manrope:
Making sure to select a typeface with multiple weights creates a lot more freedom and allows the brand to be further rolled out across different places. It allows you to use the same typeface to create large impactful headers and easy to read paragraphs.
Begin to train your design eye, and improve your next type choice by keeping these two points front of mind. It might just save you from a bleak future of using default typefaces.
These considerations only tell a tiny part of the bigger story that goes into making beautiful long-lasting brands. Want to learn more about how we can create or improve your brand? Get in touch.