Learning how to create an effective package, website, or ad design is an important part of every design and marketing curriculum. Shapes, colors, logos, and slogans all work together to communicate a company’s message and brand attributes to potential consumers. But what about the font used for the brand’s logo, website, or ad copy? Unfortunately, the role of font design and positioning in conveying the brand message is often overlooked in marketing design courses, as well as by professional marketers.
To help students and professionals understand the importance of effective font use for all kinds of businesses, MDG Advertising’s marketing experts have put together a new infographic, Fonts 101: What Marketers Need to Know, that answers these common questions:
Are Fonts and Typefaces the Same Thing?
The words “font” and “typeface” have their origins in the early days of printing when printers would painstakingly group individual letters in movable metal or wood blocks to create sections of text. Traditionally, the term typeface meant the basic design of the letters. Font described specific attributes of the characters, like the style or size. For example, Times New Roman would be a typeface, and Times New Roman 10-point Italic would be considered a font. Thanks to the advent of digital printing, the two words are used interchangeably today. A font is a group of letters with similar design features.
What Distinguishes One Font from Another?
The subtle curves, lines, and flourishes of the individual characters set one font apart from another. These are some common terms that designers use when describing the elements of various fonts:
- Stroke: Strokes are the curved and straight lines that give the letter its basic form.
- Counter: Counter refers to the negative space seen within some letters, such as O.
- Bar & Crossbar: These are the horizontal lines seen within some characters, such as the letter H.
- Ligature: A ligature is the combining of multiple letters into one. An example would be the æ sometimes used in the British spelling of words like orthopædic or encyclopædia.
What Are the Different Types of Fonts?
Fonts are grouped into families based on their general appearance and intended uses. The most frequently used font families are sans-serif, serif, and decorative.
- Sans-serif fonts, such as Arial and Ubuntu, lack the strokes added to the ends of the letters and appear more modern and minimalistic.
- Serif fonts, like Times New Roman and Garamond, convey formality and tradition. They’re defined by small strokes (or “feet”) attached to the ends of letters.
- Decorative fonts, such as those that look like handwriting or calligraphy, are intended to catch the eye and aren’t normally used for large areas of text.
Just like logos and other design elements, fonts evoke emotions within the minds of consumers. Every design element, including font style, can influence a consumer’s judgment of a company or brand. One survey found that 75% of consumers judged businesses based on their website design. Nearly the same percentage of consumers said they made purchases based on package design. Unfortunately for marketers, there isn’t one particular font that works best for all consumers and all situations. In fact, consumer preferences can vary significantly based on their age, location, and culture.
What Factors Should a Marketer Consider When Choosing a Font?
Regardless of the font used, there are a few rules you should keep in mind:
- The font needs to be readable. In most instances, serif and sans-serif fonts can be easily read across most platforms. Decorative fonts can be harder to read, especially in large blocks or on small devices.
- The font must reflect a brand’s image and goals. For example, an ornate, script font would look inappropriate in the marketing materials of a high-tech company.
- The font should work well for the context it’s being used in and appeal to the brand’s target audience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anthony Del Gigante, Chief Creative Officer at MDG Advertising
Anthony Del Gigante is chief creative officer at MDG Advertising, a full-service ad agency in Brooklyn, New York and Boca Raton, Florida. Over the years, his unique talents in brand strategy, visual identity development, and brand activation have consistently delivered measurable results for a wide range of world-renowned clients, including American Express, Verizon, AbbVie, and Cushman Wakefield. A brand specialist, Anthony leads MDG’s creative development, working with clients to develop creative, strategic, and functional solutions for their brands.