Shadowcat Rebrand: Typography & Fonts

Over the last few posts, I’ve given you a sneak peek through different aspects of my own rebrand. In this post, I’ll be talking typography and things to consider when choosing and using fonts within branding.

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen my new fonts in action over the last few days. Following on from last week’s blog post about colours, font choices are another part of branding that may appear simple but in fact, influence the feel of your branding and the emotions you want your audience to experience.

But… it’s just words, right?

Well kind of, but when you realise that each letter is a stylised image in it’s own right, it really opens up a world of depth you may not have considered before. You most frequently see this with logos. You know the ones that have a beautifully illustrated letter or monogram that they use for their business that ooze sophistication and premium quality.

That is all from a single letter and now you need to choose a full alphabet that captures and communicates the vibe of your business. That’s where DIY branding often falls short – poor font choices that are illegible, jarring or simply too many.

Terminology

Before we get started on how and why I chose the fonts I did, here’s a quick terminology guide so you understand what I’m talking about without it sounding like absolute jargon.

  • Font – a style within a typeface that refers to the weights, widths, and styles for example Times New Roman Regular, Italic, Bold, etc.
  • Typeface – A typeface is the collective name of a family of related fonts such as Times New Roman
  • Typography – this term refers to the art of arranging letters and text in a way that makes words legible, clear, and visually appealing. It brings text to life.
  • Weights – this is the thickness of a font for example light, medium, regular, semi-bold, bold, italic, black.
  • Spacing – the space between letters, words or lines.
  • Casing – refers to whether the letters are in uppercase/capitals, lower case or sentence case. For example, this is lower case. THIS IS UPPER CASE OR CAPS (SHORT FOR CAPITALS). This is sentence case – a mix of upper and lower where grammatically applicable.

Now that we’re on the same page, what exactly are the factors that help a designer choose a font?

Let’s break it down…

Types of fonts

Serif – a serif is a slight projection or tail on certain letters. A serif font features these tails. Think Time New Roman as an example.

Sans serif – Sans means without so a sans serif font is a font without the tails such as Arial.

Script – Script fonts mimic handwriting or calligraphy.

Display – A display font is typically used for headings where it can be used at a larger size and is often more eccentric, flourished and variable than traditional fonts.

 

Legibility

What good are words if you can’t use them to communicate? Legibility is a key consideration when choosing a typeface for a brand. HOWEVER, there are exceptions. For instance, your logo may be highly stylised and use a single or combination of fonts that are difficult to interpret out of the logo context. In these instances, although the fonts can remain part of your brand, they are likely to be kept for your logo and a complimentary alternative can be chosen for your header. You may or may not see this when I reveal my logo this week #spoilers

My point is, every font has it’s place. Consider the context and purpose of the font before deciding. Even comic sans which is probably the most hated font by designers has it’s moment of glory. Did you know that Comic Sans is one of a few typefaces that is easy for dyslexics to decipher. It’s due to the design of the individual letters making it easier to identify a difference characters.

Fascinating right? Does this mean you should use it for your brand? Well, that depends on your values and strategy but probably no, but it does show why context is important.

 

“Fonts can alter the meanings of words right before your very eyes”

– Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter

Personality

When you remember that each letter is a designed icon in it’s own right, it makes sense that fonts have their own personality which needs to align with how you want your business to be perceived. You probably do this without realising, bringing awareness to how you feel when you see words in certain fonts is key. This example says it all:

Flexibility

When choosing fonts for the bulk of your copy (not fancy display or headers), it is preferable to find one that has a range of weights (regular, bold, italic etc) to give you the flexibility you need within your content.

Remember, brands are created to last, the last thing you want is to invest this time, money and passion and be left with something that isn’t quite right.

Using the default bold and italic settings you see in programs like Word and Canva is a work around, but often these manipulate the font in a way that wasn’t intended and can look janky. And no one wants to look janky when there are plenty of quality fonts out there.

Licensing

I’ll touch on this briefly because it’s important enough for it’s own post. If you decide to choose your own font for your branding, be sure you have the correct license or permissions for commercial usage that cover what you are using it for.

Fonts are created by designers and are subject to copyright. Use sites such as Google Fonts, Creative Market, Font Bundles and Design Cuts (to name a few of my favourites) and be sure to always check the license to avoid getting in a legal pickle.

Consistency

If you have read anything I’ve written ever, you’ll know how important consistency is with your brand. It’s literally the thing that makes your brand recognisable, trustworthy and safe to buy from (psychologically speaking).

Knowing how you present your fonts is as important as choosing them to start with. Will you be left aligned or centred? Will you use your logo font for headers or not? Do you have a font you use only for flourishes, such as a handwritten script, and if yes, where is it used?

Top tip: Create a one page reference guide that details all the decisions you make about your fonts choices and formatting. By building guidelines, you will have clarity that makes consistency easy to achieve. It doesn’t have to be a huge document, but bring it all to together in one place, along with your colours, to make your life easier!

The Grand Rebrand

So, with all that in mind and the hundreds of fonts on my computer and thousands available online, what fonts did I choose for my branding?! Read on, dear friend, and all shall be revealed.

Playfair Display

Oh my, I adore this font. It’s classic yet modern and has a timeless feel as many serif fonts do. I wanted a font that looked good in different combinations of weight and case within the same header as part of my branding choice. This helps me educate my reader with important messages quickly by drawing their attention whilst looking fancy AF. It’s a subtle way to save time for the audience.

This is the biggest change for my type between brands because I used a combination of sans-serif and script before. It needed to emphasise certain words in a clean, playful way that still carried authority. Using a serif font adds a grown-up, expert feel that is aspirational rather than arrogant.

Brandon Grotesque

Adding a complementary contrast to the fancier Playfair, is a bold, clean and modern font. It helps to ground the importance of the content I’m sharing. Header text is eye catching in both the words and font chosen, the subheading is the ‘down to business’ line that clarifies the content below so the audience is absolutely clear about what they are going to read. It encourages the reader to settle read for the content after the excitement of the title.

Poppins

Poppins is one of my favourite fonts for is beautifully round letter shapes that are a dream to read. It’s friendly and approachable while being a little more fun than more common sans like Arial or Helvetica. It has a multitude of weights available and is easy to read at all sizes.

Wanna see?

Well, there’s more so read this first!

Formatting & Customisation

You may think that it stops there. Fonts chosen, jobs a goodun, right?

Well, no.

There’s a few more steps and choices to make that can impact the final feel of the text. It’s a tell tell sign of a DIY brand so let me elaborate what happens next. These are some examples of changes I chose to make.

Spacing

This includes tracking and spacing between letters and words

Ligatures

These are variations on the letters you can use to add extra finishes to the letters

Casing

Deciding on upper, lower or sentence case and where each is used

The specifics:

Playfair Display

As my header font, I want this to have the flexibility to be used as a design element in its own right so it will be used in uppercase, lowercase, sentence case or any combination as needed. I have chosen to keep the letter-spacing set to optical which means it is optimised for legibility.

Brandon Grotesque

As my sub header font, it needs to be clear, bold and legible. With that in mind, it will always be in uppercase, always in bold and I’ve added spacing between the letters to make it easier to read and add balance and distinction between the header and the copy.

Poppins

As my copy font that will contain most of the information, legibility is the priority. This one is again set to optical, with a little extra space between each letter to make it easier to skim read (because no one really reads on the internet right, not even you). Absolutely this will be in sentence case to adhere to the rules of grammar for ease and comfort.

Here you can see the differences between the fonts as standard and the small changes I have made:

 

As with everything when it comes to branding, if you feel unsure of which fonts are right for your business, look to your strategy. Your values and the emotions you want your audience to experience when they think of your business will help guide you. I do recommend investing in a designer for your branding when you can, this is what we do! Until then, keep it simple, don’t try and be too fancy and make sure it’s legible!

I’ll leave you with my favourite font joke (yes I have one, don’t you judge me!):

 

Four fonts walk into a bar. The barman shouts “Oi, get out! We don’t want your type in here!”

 

If you’re ready to outsource your branding to an expert as passionate about you as you are about your business, then hit me up.

Here’s my calendar, book the call and let’s get you branded with intention and magnificence.

Yours intentionally – Tammi x

 

 

 

 

Sources:
https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ui-design/beginners-guide-to-typography/

http://omgfacts.com/comic-sans-helps-people-with-dyslexia/

https://pateydesigns.com/blog/2016/12/7/font-choice-matters-and-why-you-should-care

Header photo by Kristian Strand on Unsplash

 

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