Why do certain brand types or companies adopt certain styles of typefaces and font pairings? It can be partly attributed to “trend”, but there’s also the way that brands from different industry sectors choose to position themselves. They don’t follow a specific rulebook, but certain styles of typefaces represent specific emotional attributes.
For example, geometric typefaces with uniform proportions tend to represent cleanliness, simplicity and design purity. Many tech companies choose to express their brand this way. In contrast, we see many fashion brands lean towards high contrast modern designs with elegant hairline strokes, smooth arching curves and bracketed serifs to express a timeless style.
Typographic consistency across different channels creates a sense of empathy and loyalty between the brand and its audience over time and is an essential asset in a brand’s tool kit. Many features and parameters affect the style and functional properties of a typeface, some are global, some are specific, and some relate to individual letters. With all the tools at the disposal of brands and designers, there are a few things to take into account when picking the font family for your brand.
First, you can consider whether to use serif or sans serif for your brand. Serifs originate from carved inscriptions, mostly from Roman Imperial period. With this deep-rooted history brings the association between serif fonts and their antique origins, making them more suited for academic, cultivated and thoughtful communication.
Sans serif fonts made their first appearance in the 19th century and were used for commercial headlines and advertisements. Their low contrast and absence of serifs made most sans typefaces harder to follow for general reading and were not a suitable choice for the text of a book, magazine or newspaper. However, the explosion of digital technology has brought a resurgence in the popularity of the sans serif, making it an appropriate choice for an association with rational and industrial ideology.
So, when deciding the font for your brand, you should consider the emotional features, visual language, technical, linguistic and logistic requirements for the brand. Sometimes, a single typeface won’t be enough for an entire company. IT and legal departments have different necessities than the design or marketing departments. Ultimately, the sweet spot where brand expression and functionality meets is where you’ll decide on the right typeface for your brand.