When crafting an in-depth marketing strategy, you may think font choice is not the hottest iron in the fire—but you’d be surprised how much heat the proper font choice can bring to your brand. According to Yego Moravia, design director at New York-based advertising agency Mother New York, whose clients include Target and Virgin Mobile, “Your type is almost like the handwriting of your brand.” Different styles of font are messaging cues, and can serve as vital branding elements in their own right.
“Typeface is the equivalent of a human voice. Think of it as a medium in the same way you’d think of imagery or sound—as a palate you can tap into to communicate all kinds of emotions,” says Simon Lince, chief creative officer at Sterling Brands, an agency that handles clients such as Nike and Levi’s. “If you’re happy speaking in a quiet, hushed tone, then choose a light, delicate, simple font. You also want to choose something that isn’t going to date quickly. If you want a typeface that’s going to be in the marketplace for a long period of time, then choosing a typeface that’s well-rounded, contemporary and easy to read is really important.”
Font choice can also be used to differentiate between product lines from the same parent company. Coca-Cola uses different fonts for Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and original Coca-Cola to express that product’s focus and attitude. “It’s different expressions of the same brand,” Moravia says, “And it says something different about each one.”
The choice of font style for your message can be pretty straightforward, according to Matthew Allen, a typeface illustrator and designer, who counts Crate and Barrel, Ford and Converse among his clients. He suggests using a sans serif font, which lacks small projecting features at the end of letter strokes, to make a logo feel clean and modern. For an ad that needs to be more approachable, he recommends a slab serif, a more block-like font. To personify a product and brand that has a human touch, use a hand-drawn font or script.
Choosing the right font can be the glue that keeps a full brand identity cohesive, advises Allen. “You can have the right message and the right image but the wrong font, and you can mess up the whole ad. It takes everything working together to have the most effective marketing piece.”