It occurred to me today that I had what I felt was a good topic series for a blog called “Why’d you do that?” to help give folks a little insight into the maddening world of a creative. For those who think we put things together with no rhyme or reason, believe it or not, most of us do have intention and purpose. It is sometimes difficult to tell a client “why” things work in some cases – we just know better than you, that’s why, stop asking questions – no I’m kidding, but seriously, I’ll attempt to broaden your horizons through what I know.
Today’s subject will address font usage, sizes and colors.
Fonts are a fun and dangerous thing. There are so many cool and fun fonts for us to use that help convey your message, invoke a feeling and help make an impression. From a branding and copy flow stand point, user beware when adding color to copy and making inconsistent font changes. When done effectively they enhance your copy, but when not done well it makes it difficult for the reader’s eye to know where to go. The blocks of copy appear to flow together as one piece, instead of being distinctly different parts, as intended.
It is also important to note that if you have a brand standard in place, stick to it. Those of you who have corporate “brand standards” and don’t know why you can’t use the “super cool purple font” on your sales piece, believe it or not, there is a reason for that. The Lords of Branding are establishing who you are and what your company looks like. By dictating what specific fonts, colors and sizes, you are allowed to use, you are actually helping promote your overall “Brand” to the world and strengthening its image and recognition.
You can still make an impactful piece when limited to using a specific set of colors and fonts. Isolating color and bold and/or italic fonts are tools to highlight areas I want to draw to the reader’s attention. I also use color (blocking) to create this attention as well.
Less is More
…Only when more is too much. Famous words by a famous architect (can you name him?). If not, I’ll tell you later if I remember.* When creating a flyer or a brochure, invite, newsletter, whatever, we designers are mindful of how many and what types of fonts we use. Rule of thumb tends to be 2-4 per piece.
And there are so many fonts to choose from.
Serifs have tails on it. In my mind it tends to have a more serious or corporate tone. Times, Minion, Garamond, Palatino, and Century are examples of serif fonts.
San Serifs have NO tails on them. They tend to feel more clean, simplified and easy to read. Arial, Helvetica, Impact and one of my favorites Century Gothic are all great examples of san serifs.
Notice how line weights and widths change on each. Some subtly, some drastically. Each has a slightly different feeling. Both of these are useful in headlines and body copy, and when used properly can help guide your reader through your copy fluidly using changes in size, style and sometimes color.
Then there are fancier fonts like Curlz, Apple Chancery, Brush, and Desryl. These fun fancy fonts are great for use in drawing someone’s attention. Say to a headline, or sub headline. When appropriate of course. These are typically NOT good fonts to use for body copy because they can be difficult to read for your reader.
Moral of the story: with branding, fonts count, and consistency is king.
*P.S. the architect was Frank Lloyd Wright. Bonus points if you already knew that!