Certain letter types convey certain emotions. File photo.

It’s your business: Putting your best font forward

What does your chosen typeface say about your brand?

With the world focused on communication through digital media, have you ever thought of how the type font you use can affect the way people perceive you and your business?

Over the years, it’s been established that font choices can have a psychological impact on how people respond to the message. Just like people’s reactions to colours, certain fonts convey certain emotions, feelings, and attitudes.

Every professional designer knows that choosing the right typeface for a logo, letterhead, brochure or even a website is a critical branding decision. Depending on the font chosen, they can evoke different reactions from the viewer, such as stability, respectability, progressiveness or even affection.

With the thousands of fonts available today it can be a little daunting for the average business person to pick a type font that will suit their purposes. However, there are a few known parameters or criteria that can be taken into account in helping make the right choice.

To begin, there are four major categories; serif, sans-serif, script, and display. Here is a brief overview of what each style can convey:

Serif: These are the ones that have little lines jutting out from the tops or bottoms of the strokes used to form the character. They are most often used to convey a sense of tradition, respectability, reliability or make the viewer feel comfortable.

Sans-serif: These fonts don’t have those little lines. Commonly used to provide feelings of objectivity, stability or an association with being modern.

Script: In essence, this is designed to mimic handwriting. It conveys a sense of elegance or affection and can also be seen as depicting creativity.

Display: This category covers a wide range of fonts. From the highly stylized to customized faces used in logo design to those great old fonts used by PT Barnum on his circus posters or the free-flowing designs of the psychedelic era.

In addition to the four basic styles, there are other aspects of type fonts that need to be taken into consideration. Characteristics such as the thickness of the line, regular, semi-bold, bold or even the angle of the lines when a decision has to be made whether to use italics or roman.

One of the biggest decisions to be made when choosing a type font may seem rather obvious — legibility. Some fonts just do not work well with digital devices while others are simply too hard to read, such as when used for roadside sign designed to be read quickly.

One last point to consider is the importance of knowing who your customers are and how they might react to your font selection. Are they looking for a company that provides a sense of tradition or a company that reflects their style or progressiveness?

Choosing the right type font is a major branding decision whether you are at the point of start-up or need to develop a strategy for the next campaign. It is really a matter of putting your best — dare I say it — font forward.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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