One of the very few things I remember from my College Typography class, is my Professor, Clifford Rushe’s, anal attention to detail and his utter disdain for free internet fonts – which, at the time, I thought were the greatest thing since canned Spam.
At the time I merely dismissed it as him being old fashioned…but it’s something that has always stuck with me over the years.
Ironically, what really changed the way I approached and viewed typography was my fascination with Wildstyle Graffiti…which, due to its counterculture roots, is an art form often frowned upon by the majority of veteran industry professionals.
Despite the fact that I usually have no idea what any of it says, trying to read and make sense of the abstracted shapes and letterforms really made me start to notice and appreciate the composition of the design, finally understanding what my College Professor was trying to teach me all along:
Typography is, more or less, a collection of images/symbols that, when properly combined, have the power to communicate complicated thoughts, ideas and emotions.
Whether you’re designing your own logo or hiring a designer; before going with the “coolest” font you’ve just pulled off the internet, stop and ask yourself the following:
What instantly comes to mind when I look at this font and what does it say about my business?
Can I read it in 2 seconds or less?
Have I ever seen this used anywhere else?
What type of feelings arise when looking at this?
With that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the right font style to go along with your design:
Legibility – While I would recommend avoiding Decorative, Script and Calligraphy fonts (mainly for legibility purposes), if you are going to use any of these types of fonts in your design, always make sure it can be quickly and easily read. The same rule applies for creating your own typeface as well. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
Simplicity – While you don’t need to necessarily use a plain san serif font, you should always try to avoid getting too creative and going wild with fancy flourishes and a kaleidoscope of colors. Remember the KISS Rule and “Keep It Simple Stupid.”
Aesthetic – One of the main drawbacks to using stock/free fonts is the fact that they sometimes don’t fully work with the flow and aesthetic of the design. In other words, pay attention to spacing issues (aka Kerning), connecting lines and the symmetry of the design; especially when working with script fonts. And if you are using a font that isn’t quite working with the design, don’t be afraid to modify it to suit your needs – I’d recommend using Adobe Illustrator.
And last but not least: Don’t settle for the quick and easy solution. Take your time to really develop and create a Typeface that truly expresses your Brand and separates you from the rest of the crowd.