What Your Font Says about You

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Old vintage typewriter keys
Old vintage typewriter keys

Every graphic designer knows that the task of choosing a typeface for any branding project can be taxing. No typeface is simply a typeface; it’s a style of text that communicates a mission and a message. Some typefaces are bold and seek to communicate something edgy; some are delicate and deliberately feminine; and still others are academic by nature. So, whether you run a blog, own a small business, or run a large-scale corporation, what does your typeface say about you? Here is a quick look at what your typeface’s style communicates about your brand.

Serif

Serif typefaces have small strokes at the ends of each letter’s major strokes. Some frequently-used examples are Times New Roman, Garamond, and Georgia. You’ll often find them used in novels for the main body text. The serif typeface category is an extremely large one with a great deal of variety within it, but if your brand centers around a serif typeface, chances are you’re particularly academic or business professional by nature. Serif typefaces tend to communicate seriousness, tradition, formality, maturity, or scholarship.

Sans serif

Sans serif typefaces lack the small strokes that serif typefaces have, and they represent the second category in the major serif/sans serif division, as explained in this article. The lack of serifs makes these typefaces look clean, understated, and minimalist. Helvetica is the classic example of a sans serif typeface. Sans serif typefaces are also historically newer than their “avec” serif counterparts. If you’ve opted for a sans serif typeface for your brand, you are probably seeking to have a decidedly contemporary brand. A sans serif typeface says “modern,” “minimalist,” “clean,” “simple,” “practical,” or “innovative.”

Slab serif

Slab serif is a subcategory within the broader serif category, but it very much as a look of its own. Slab serifs feature thick serifs that are about equal in thickness to the thick strokes of a letter. Some slab serifs have a rounder feel to them, while others are more block-style. Both types of slab serifs can give a brand an academic feel—probably because they resemble the academic lettering so often seen on high school letter jackets and college apparel. Slab serifs can communicate boldness, masculinity, assertiveness, or modernness as well. If your brand is centered around a slab serif typeface, you’re probably modern, academic, “hip,” or bold by nature.

Monospaced

Monospaced typefaces mimic the type of fixed-width type you’re used to seeing on documents drafted on typewriters. Because of this, they instantly bring the viewer back to decades past when the typewriter was the primary means for preparing documents. If you use a monospaced typeface in your branding, you’re likely bookish, academic, or vintage by nature.

Square sans serif

Square sans serif is, of course, a subcategory within the broader category sans serif. It designates those typefaces that have a boxy look to them; in fact, most letters of a square sans serif typeface could be created within the confines of a square, and the outer strokes of each letter would occupy much of the outer box outline. These typefaces tend to have a technological or scientific feel to them, probably because they resemble text seen on calculators and high-tech sci-fi machines. If your brand features a square sans serif, you probably fall within the scientific or techish realm.

Script

Script typefaces tend to have a feminine look to them. They are often used to introduce delicate ideas, or content that is more feminine by nature. Scripts, however, can vary from casual to formal, so they don’t always scream “feminine.” A script might simply add a humanist touch to a brand, or it might be reminiscent of a past artistic era. Regardless of how casual or formal they are, script typefaces tend to add a touch of warmth because they mimic human handwriting. If your brand features a script typeface, chances are you’re artistic, feminine, or involve an element of craftsmanship in your business model.

Blackletter

Blackletter typefaces feature the Gothic, Old English style letters that you often see in newspaper logos. If serif typefaces are traditional, blackletter typefaces are ultra traditional. So, if your brand features a blackletter typeface, chances are you’re, well, a newspaper, or a company with a particularly extensive history. Blackletter typefaces can also be extremely masculine. You might see a blackletter typeface at a tattoo parlor, edgy bar, or motorcycle shop.

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