Choose typography for your brand

1. Outline your brand essence and personality. Your brand essence is the core characteristic that defines your brand in one to three words, and your brand personality is a set of human characteristics associated with your brand essence and name.

Your brand typography should be an accurate reflection of both your brand essence and personality. Grounding your typography choice in both ensures that it integrates well into all branding materials. Words describing a brand personality can include playful, honest, authentic, empathetic, exciting, down-to-earth, and more.

2. Familiarize yourself with the different font types and their differences.

Font families can be separated into five types to signify different personalities. Each influences audience perceptions of your brand: Serif fonts like Times New Roman have small, decorative lines at the end of each character stroke. They convey feelings of elegance, tradition, and trustworthiness. For example, Time Magazine, Harvard University, and Giorgio Armani. Sans-serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica have smooth edges without decorative serif lines. Audiences tend to perceive them as clean, modern, and minimalist. For example, Facebook, Uber, and Netflix. Slab fonts are a variety of serif fonts with larger block letters. They are bold, typically appear in logos or headlines, and offer a compromise between modernity and convention. For example, Volvo and Honda. Script fonts emulate cursive handwriting and calligraphy. They’re most popular among brands that want to stand out as distinctive, elegant, and creative. Like slab fonts, they are most commonly used in logos. For example, Instagram and Cadillac. Decorative fonts are custom fonts specifically designed to invoke a particular feeling and appear largely in logos. The typeface becomes a graphic mark designed to create instant memorability. For example, Disney and IBM.

3. List all potential typography applications in your marketing.

Your brand typography will appear on all marketing materials. Examples of applications include: Websites and landing pages. Printed marketing brochures. Digital ads. Internal communications materials. User guides and other technical material. Product packaging and design.

4. Choose between free, licensed, and custom fonts based on your budget.

The cost of brand typography falls into one of three categories: Free, from open license font libraries like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel, Fontesk, and Font Library. Confirm that the fonts are free for commercial use, not just personal use. Licensed, which provides more choices and reduces the chance of competitive overlap. Font licenses for commercial use range from a one-time $20 fee to a $500 annual subscription. Popular databases include Adobe Fonts, Linotype, and Custom, in which a professional designer creates a bespoke font based on your brand essence, personality, and potential applications. The font will most closely match your needs without the risk of competitive duplication. However, designers can charge $50,000+ for a full font family.

5. Create a simple typographic hierarchy with a primary and secondary font family.

A typographic hierarchy is the order of fonts that makes the text as easy as possible to understand. Most brands choose two separate font families and then combine them in one of a few possible ways: One font for headlines and another for body copy. For example, Dow Chemical uses the custom Dow Corporate font for headlines and Swift Neue for longer copy blocks. One font for digital materials and another for print materials. For example, Virgin America uses the sans serif font Gotham for print materials, but Verdana uses the font on its website.  One font for major text and the other for accent text. For example, Alpha Romeo uses the custom Apex New font for all typical applications, but designers can add Arial as an accent text. The primary font should most closely align with your brand essence and personality. Choose a secondary font that complements the primary font in look and style.

6. Test your fonts in 3-5 types of advertising mediums to determine their effectiveness.

Test your fonts on diverse mediums, such as online, a print brochure, or product packaging. It should work equally well in representing your brand across each medium.