A collection of characters with a similar design is called a font. These characters include letters, both in upper and lower case, numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks. Fonts can make a significant impact on changing the entire look and feel of a block of text. Not many marketers pay attention to fonts and instead prefer to focus on the images and the design.
However, research shows that fonts can influence a consumer’s perception of a brand’s personality. The study Using type font characteristics to communicate the brand personality of new brands by Bianca Grohmann, Joan L. Giese, and Ian D.Parkman elaborates that. The choice of fonts can have a subconscious effect on how consumers perceive and process your message.
There is no universal font for all content. Marketers must choose a font to correctly address the context of the message you are trying to convey.
What is the difference between font and typeface?
The terms font and typeface are used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A typeface is an alphabet and its corresponding numbers and punctuation that share a common design. Fonts, on the other hand, are a particular set of glyphs within a typeface.
Let us illustrate with an example. Helvetica is a popular typeface. However, 10 point Helvetica and 12 points Helvetica are separate fonts. Similarly, a 14 point Helvetica Bold is a different font compared to 14 point Helvetica Light. These are all different fonts but within the same typeface Helvetica.
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Why are fonts important in marketing?
According to an infographic by MDG Advertising called Fonts 101: What marketers need to know, fonts are a vital part of consumers’ brand assessment.
The infographic said,
- 75% of the consumers judge a business by its website design
- 72% of consumers say that packaging design influences their purchasing decisions.
According to MDG, you should ask the following questions for finding the right font.
- Do you want your brand to come across as modern or traditional? (Serif vs. sans-serif)
- What matters more? Standing out or Readability ( Decorative vs. non-decorative)
- Will the font appear widely and be read in large blocks? (size, weight, style, etc)
Since there is no universal font for all situations, brands and marketers must think situationally to find the specific font that works best and appeals to the target audience.
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How do you choose the right font?
When you want people to recognize your brand easily, it is important to choose the right font for your company’s logo. Instead of choosing a random font or the most popular, brands should ask themselves, what kind of image do they want to portray? Answering this question is extremely crucial since there are hundreds of fonts to choose from.
Another thing you must consider when choosing fonts is where they will be displayed. Fonts that look great on a computer screen need not necessarily look great on a billboard.
Fonts meant for the web are optimized and modified for better readability and onscreen performance in a wide range of digital environments. The fonts may have reduced ascenders and descenders, wider letterforms, more open counters, reduced stroke contrast, heavier thin strokes and serifs, as well as modified curves and angles for some designs. For smaller sizes, fonts may have more open spacing. These adjustments help enhance character recognition and overall readability in the digital environment, including the Internet, mobile devices, and e-readers.
There are some fonts specially designed for print productions. These fonts are not just easy to read but they also cause lesser ink bleeding, especially on absorbent paper. Fonts such as Helvetica, Verdana, and Century Gothic and extremely versatile and look great both on print as well as the web. Times New Roman and Garamond are also great options for print fronts.
Fonts: How they differ from one another?
Several elements set fonts apart from one another. When describing the structure and characteristics of fonts, here are some commonly used terms.
- Stroke: The curved and straight lines of a character are referred to as strokes.
- Counter: The empty space within a character is called a counter.
- Bar/Crossbar: Some characters have horizontal lines within them, such as A and H. These are called crossbars.
- Ligature: When two or more characters are combined into one, it is called a ligature. For instance, the lower case ‘f’ and lowercase ‘i’ or ‘l’ are often combined together into a single shape to avoid a collision.
- Arm/Leg: An arm is a stroke on the upper portion of a letter, while a stroke on the lower portion is called a leg. These strokes are attached to the letter at one end and free at the other end. For example, the top of an E.
- Ascender/Descender: The part of a lowercase letter, such as d, that extends above the baseline is called an ascender. A descender is the portion that goes below the baseline, as in the letter p.
- Cap Height: Cap height refers to the overall height of an uppercase character from the top of the letter to the baseline.
- X-Height: The height of lowercase letters is called X-height. It does not take into account any ascenders or descenders.
- Weight: The thickness of the characters is referred to as the weight. For example, you can change a character from normal to bold or thin.
- Angle of Characters: You can change the angle of a particular font. For example, fonts can be made upright or slanted (italic) for enhanced visual appeal or emphasis.
Fonts can also be categorized into families based on their appearance.
The three main categories of fonts are:
Serifs are small lines or strokes attached to the end of a particular symbol or letter in a family of fonts. They can either be bracketed or unbracketed. They can broadly be classified into old-style, Didone, transitional, and slab serif.
The old-type serif font dates back to 1465 when Gutenberg adopted it for the movable type printing press. Old-style serifs are mostly bracketed and are characterized by the minimal difference between thick and thin lines.
Didone emerged sometime in the 18th century and is characterized by a stark contrast between thin and thick lines.
Transitional serifs also called baroque are somewhere in between the old-style and didone serif fonts.
Slab serif was initially intended for grabbing attention on posters, and are characterized by serifs that are thick as the vertical lines themselves.
Serif fonts give a formal, traditional, yet elegant feel.
The word sans is of French origin meaning ‘without’. Sans-serif fonts do not have the extra serifs at the ends of the letters or symbols. Under low resolution in digital media, serifs may seem too large or very often disappear. Hence, sans-serif fonts are the most popular type of fonts to be used for computers.
Typically, sans-serif fonts are typically divided into the following categories- grotesque, neo-grotesque, geometric, and humanist.
Due to their minimalist feel, sans-serif fonts are considered bold, modern, and innovative.
Decorative fonts are used to project creativity and make the text stand out. They are generally used for headlines or titles, and in some cases for text in greeting cards and posters. Many decorative type fonts are hand-drawn, while others are manipulated using a graphics program or a font editor.
If you are using decorative fonts, they must be used sparingly to avoid the text from looking tacky.
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Why should marketers care about fonts?
Fonts play a vital role in representing your brand or your company values to your consumers. Sharp, straight lines convey a different message as compared to curved, angular lines. You may want to use a thick font to represent strength while a thin font may be used to represent elegance or femininity.
Marketers must keep the following in mind when selecting fonts:
You can never convey a message right if your consumer struggles to read the font. If you need your consumers to understand the message, use a font that is easy to read. Increasing the spacing between lines or increasing the font size may also help.
· Brand representation
How do you want consumers to perceive your brand? You may want to choose a font according to the kind of brand image that you want to portray.
· Target audience
Who is your target audience? If you are targeting teenagers or young adults, you may want to choose a fancy yet modern font. However, the same font would not work well if your target audience is skilled professionals.
· Brand recall
When you design a company logo or an ad campaign, you may want to choose fonts that are easily read, creating better brand recall. The font you choose should accentuate your logo and correctly represent what your company stands for.
· Emotional impact
Do you remember some catchy tag lines or slogans from when you were younger? How do you still remember these slogans? We remember them because, at some level they had an emotional impact on us. Choose your font so that it can build an emotional connection with your audience.
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Fonts can subconsciously affect consumer perception of your brand. Choosing the right fonts can help amplify your marketing efforts.