An essential part of a company’s long-term strategy should be having a memorable and easily recognizable brand. The font you use for your logos and publications is very important for creating a great first impression and a lasting positive image. Choosing the perfect font and using it consistently helps people identify and engage with your text and after repeated exposure lets them instantly identify your organization by your font.
Although it may seem like an insignificant decision in the grand scheme of things, the font that you choose says volumes about your company. In fact, there is a very interesting story from the late Steve Jobs.
In this story, Steve Jobs enrolled in a calligraphy class after dropping out of college. As told by Jobs,
“I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to [learn calligraphy]. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful. Historical. Artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture. And I found it fascinating. None of this had any hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never have multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”
In essence, Jobs felt that what he learned in that calligraphy class all those years ago helped to shape his entire brand.
On that note, let’s talk about fonts: where they come from, why they’re important, and how to choose the right font for your brand.
A Brief History of Font
In the interest of clarity, it’s important to understand that in professional typography, the terms ‘typeface’ and font are not interchangeable. However, the rise of digital typography has muddied the difference.
But I digress.
The history of typography goes back quite a ways. There is evidence of fonts in lead alloys from as far back as the 1450’s. From here, wood eventually took over as the preferred substance for type in the 19th century, but the rise of industrialization in the late 19th century automated the type process even further.
By the mid 1970’s, all of the major typeface technologies and their fonts as we know them were in place. This means the letterpress, continuous castings machines, phototypositors, computer-controlled phototypesetters, and the earliest digital typesetters.
The different types of fonts in use today can essentially be broken down into four categories:
- Serif Type Styles
- Sans Serif Type Styles
- Script Type Styles
Which font you choose for your business, website, or business card does matter, and we’ll talk more later about how to choose the right one for your business.
Why Your Font Choice Matters
Many business owners today don’t really give the font that they choose for their website or publication a second thought. In fact, it seems that the only people who care about font choice these days are the designers themselves.
However, that’s a huge mistake.
There’s a test that designers use to test whether or not the font that someone is using is effective. That test is called the ‘gutter test’, and here is how it works.
The designer rips a page (or screenshots in the case of computers) and shows the font to a person. If that person is able to recognize what brand matches with the font, that company is said to have passed the gutter test.
A great example of that is The New York Times. If someone ripped out a section of paper with the font of The New York Times, many people would be able to recognize the font anywhere.
That’s the kind of brand recognition that you want when selecting a font.
Where to Find a Font
While you may understand the importance of selecting the right font, many business owners still struggle with figuring out which font is right for them.
Here are just a few things to consider when selecting a font for your website or publication:
- Demographics: Think about who you are marketing to. You wouldn’t choose the same font for children that you would choose for grandparents.
- Legibility: Is the font easy to read? Many people choose fonts that they think look good but are actually very difficult to read.
- Copy Length: If you’re writing something like a novel, the font that you choose has to be something that people can easily read for extended periods of time.
- Serif vs. Sans: Most people agree that serif fonts are easier to read for longer periods than san serif. What you choose depends on the length of your copy and your medium of publication.
- Medium of Publication: Whether you’re writing for a magazine, book, website, or some other form of publication, you have to choose what looks best for each different scenario.
If you’re having a hard time finding a font for your business, check out fonts.com. They have plenty of excellent choices and tips on how to select the correct font for your specific situation.
What do you think? How do you select the fonts that you use in your business?
Let us know in the comments section below!