How the Wrong Typeface Can Hurt Your Company
January 5, 2018
There’s a reason why companies pay thousands of dollars to branding consultants — it’s because aspects of your business, like the fonts you use, can have a larger effect than you might think on your bottom line. People are known to make snap judgments and move quickly from your material if there are issues like readability.
While the right typeface can express confidence, boldness, modernity, or traditional values, a poorly chosen typeface will confuse your customers and muddle their understanding of your product. The following infographic, courtesy of Fundera shows how customers relate specifically to certain fonts, how that tempers their expectations, and what kinds of businesses use what family of fonts.
In one study two sets of people were asked to complete a set of tasks — one was given instructions in Arial, a clear and simple font, and the other received the same instructions in a Brush font — that is more difficult to decipher. Though asked to perform the same actions, it took nearly twice as long for those reading the Brush font to perform a task (15 minutes on average) than those that were given Arial (8 minutes). That’s time your customers do not have.
How To Choose The Best Font For You
There are a few basic factors to consider when you are looking for an ideal font for your brand.
Readability vs Legibility
While connected — these two concepts differ and you have to take both into account when selecting a typeface. Readability refers to how text and blocks of text are arranged on a page – this means it corresponds directly to how well a reader can recognize words and paragraphs. Legibility is a subset of readability and refers to how well individual characters can be distinguished. The right font wants to be both readable and legible – which means considering kearning (the space between letters) and leading as well as size and font style.
There is a school of thought that your web copy should be 16 point font. The reasoning is that this size matches the size of the font in an average book, taking into account the distance of the screen and the relative distance with which you would usually hold a book. These tend to match up when using a 16 point font on the screen.
Serif vs Sans Serif
Common parlance has it that serif fonts are more traditional. Typography like Times New Roman and Baskerville are thought to have a weight to them that speaks a more authoritative message. Another rumor about serif fonts is that they are more legible in print, but that sans serif is better for online viewing.
Joey Falconer on The Next Web posits a theory that in the earlier days of computing low screen resolution made serif fonts less legible. The resolution on a computer screen was a tenth of the resolution of the printed page (made up of vectors that detailed outlines). On screen, however, serifs would become pixelated. His thought is that this is still the case, no matter how high resolution our screens become.
While evidence backing up this point is inconclusive, the fact that there is a perception regarding serif vs. sans serif that this is the case. It might be the google effect (which is a pervasive brand using only sans serif fonts) that makes it appear modern. But that perception is enough to make it tenet you might want to follow.
The most popular serif fonts of 2017 include:
- Freight Text
- Tiempos Text
The most popular sans-serif fonts of 2017 include:
- Proxima Nova
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is what your text is trying to accomplish – is it an announcement that requires a banner or is it body text that wants to be clearly read and digested? Usually, it will be a combination of both and you will have to choose at least two fonts to convey a clear message. However, it’s best not to have more than three fonts in one place
Font pairings are a tricky business. You can use font families (like a couple of different Fontin fonts) to create font harmony, or it’s even possible to use both serif and sans-serif fonts simultaneously. A classic pairing is Helvetica Neue and Garamond.
Learning more about guarding contrast is imperative if you want to use colors other than black and white. According to Nielson, bad fonts, including small font sizes and low-contrast are the most common complaint that web users have by a healthy margin. Keep this in mind when you think about getting overly creative with your font.
There are many factors to consider when considering the branding of your font. Do not rush this process. While it may seem trivial in the moment, a font is the unspoken voice of your company and informs an audience of your intentions. Trust is the most important thing your brand can convey and you cannot build trust if your font does not tell a story that matches your mission