I was recently asked why I use the fonts I use. There is always calculation behind font choice. Never is a typeface chosen just because it’s pretty, though that does help.
I choose fonts based on who the client is, who the target audience is, and what application the font is being used for. The fonts chosen really need to speak to the client’s personality, or that of their business, to convey the correct message to their target audience. Logos give the most freedom when it comes to typesetting. With a logo, I can play with letterforms or even just ways of conveying letters instead of being held within the constraints of a font. There are also times that the personality of the business is more classic and calls for a classic type treatment. No matter what font or font treatment has been selected or created for a logo, I will always choose supporting fonts that pair well with the logo and carry the feeling of the brand.
Legibility is another factor in font choice. How well and how quickly does the text need to be read? A billboard needs to have a classic, easy-to-read font so your message can be very quickly consumed. A magazine ad headline can be more interesting, but the ad’s body copy should be very legible. The use of fonts in web copy is similar to advertisement copy, with the exception of the use of web-friendly fonts. For an ad, I can use any font in my arsenal, but only certain fonts have a web-friendly version, whether it’s through Adobe Creative Cloud or Google Fonts. In the end, we want to make something interesting enough to attract attention, but we also don’t want to make people work to consume the information we are trying to convey.
Every typeface we use as designers is a choice; it does not happen by accident. Remember this next time you are looking at a publication or book cover.
Cynthia Carbajal is the Art Director & Webmaster at Imagine Communications.