Posts Tagged ‘font selection’

Top 3 Items (Besides a Logo) Every Brand Must Have

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012


Note: this article is reprinted from our monthly e-digest, >the mixer. Click here to be added to our email list.

All about us


For companies that are serious about defining their brand and audiences, a creative brief is the essential first step. Here at Mix, our work with a new client starts with an in-depth question and answer session with our clients that gets to the heart of their business. From there, we prepare a written creative brief that guides the work we do together. What’s in the guide? For starters: the company’s objectives, audiences, competitors, personality, unique selling points and much more. The brief paints a picture of the company from past to present and into the future, and informs all of the visual choices we make about the brand throughout the design process.


Color PaletteDetermining a company’s color palette is about more than aesthetics—it’s setting the groundwork for creating readily recognizable designs to represent your business. A brand’s color palette takes into account the logo colors, primary and secondary text colors, colors for links and rollover states, accent colors, seasonal or specific product variations and more. The color palette is crafted to set your brand apart from competitors and express your brand’s personality. Implemented correctly, a brand’s color palette should be as recognizable by audiences as their logo. To prove my point, answer the following: what colors to Target employees wear? What are the colors of the Walmart logo?

Brand Fonts3) BRAND FONTS

Simply put, fonts influence meaning. Imagine you see a billboard for two similar retail shops. Billboard 1 features a sleek, edgy font you’ve never seen before. Billboard 2 features Arial, a font available on any PC. Which retail shop do you assume has a larger marketing budget? Which do you imagine is more successful? It’s incredibly important for a brand to select an appropriate font or set of fonts to use as part of their brand identity and stick to it. Consumers will come to associate the font with your brand, serving as a sort of mental shortcut in conveying your brand message. See our blog post for more on selecting fonts (including a fun mind-bending activity!).

Type smack-down! Competitor borrows brand font

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011


I was getting ready to enjoy a cheese and onion enchilada at my local Zantigo the other day, when I noticed the following holiday graphics:

“Hmm,” I thought, “That sure looks familiar.” And then it hit me: they were using the logo font from Erbert and Gerbert’s. The characteristic “AND” was a dead giveaway:

Erbert and Gerbert brand font

Does this mean Erbert and Gerbert’s should have a legal smack down with Zantigo? Nah…I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Nevertheless, it has the potential to cause some brand confusion among consumers who frequent both restaurants. So what can designers learn from this?

Well, while big, multinational companies can afford to have font designers create a custom font for their brand, smaller businesses will likely need to draw from the existing type pool. And huge as that pool might be ( has over 90,000 fonts from more than 900 foundries), chances are that some designer out there is going to select the same font as you.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be in a totally different industry and application, and the two fonts will never meet the same consumers’ eyes. However, as the example shows above, this isn’t always the case.

One option is to alter the font you select for the logo design in some meaningful way: create a custom swash, elongate or compress letters, embellish the letters, or even mix fonts. The more creativity you bring to the design, the less likely the font will be the most distinguishable aspect of the logo. For example, while I adore the treatment of the word “AND” in the Erbert and Gerbert logo, the designer may have been wise to alter this highly recognizable character (which I’m sure is a glyph available within the font) to make it unique to the brand.

Another option is to avoid common fonts altogether when creating a logo design. This includes any of the fonts that come with Microsoft Office, Windows, Mac, and Adobe Creative Suite (except, of course, if you plan to alter the characters). You may also do well to avoid relying heavily on free fonts from sources like (which typically has restrictions on commercial use of their fonts anyway), opting for fonts purchased from type foundries instead. This can get expensive, but typically when I’m mocking up concepts, I’ll either use a sample of the type or buy a single face for the comps, then buy the full font when a client selects a logo. Purchasing off-the-beaten-path fonts may help you in your quest to avoid the “oh my gawd she’s wearing the same dress!” syndrome, but it’s still no guarantee.

A third option may be to restrict the use of highly recognizable display fonts to a logo—perhaps even penning your own logo type—then relying on more generic, less recognizable font for the bulk of the brand communications. With this tactic, other brand elements and colors do the work of communicating the brand to consumers.

Before I close, I should probably fess up to two things. First, this has totally happened to me! A recent Target holiday circular used one my clients’ logo fonts in their ad. Luckily, Target is likely to drop the font after the holiday promotion. Second, as a designer, I’m far more likely to notice these type twins. Will the consumer even notice? Chances are if they do, they won’t be able to communicate more than that a design “feels familiar” (unless it’s my 11-year-old, who seems to have a photographic memory for all things advertising!).

Noticed any type smack downs of your own lately? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below, or post examples on our Facebook page:


Selecting Fonts

Monday, November 17th, 2008
Argyle Sweaters by Scott Hilburn

Argyle Sweaters by Scott Hilburn

I want to talk about the importance of selecting the right fonts today, and offer some tips for making your selections. But first. . .an activity to try!

Read the following two lists of words quickly, without making any mistakes:



Did you find yourself delayed in reading the list in the second example? This activity is borrowed from a classic psychology experiment to demonstrate the influence of a competing visual element (color) on the comprehension of words. So why am I showing it here? Imagine instead of color, the variation is now the shape of the letter forms. It’s not difficult to imagine that similar to this experiment, fonts can influence the meaning we pull from a block of text. Here’s another example. What does the font choice for each sentence say about the speaker?


When I view the three samples, I imagine the speaker of the first sentence to be a writer or literary type, the second to be an elegant older woman, and the last to be a man—probably a creative type, and in his mid twenties.

You may be thinking that my characterization is grossly stereotypical. And you’d be right. But that’s how our brains work. Lacking complete information, we base initial judgments on the information that’s given, modifying our perceptions as more information becomes available. It’s a sort of shortcut for making sense of the world as quickly as possible so we’re able to react as needed.

So back to the issue of fonts. Hopefully I’ve impressed upon you that the selection of fonts influences the viewer’s perception and even comprehension of words and who is speaking them. The bottom line? Be deliberate in your font selection. Here are some tips:

1) Look beyond your computer’s installed fonts. Limiting your selection to fonts that are installed on 90% of all computers runs the risk of presenting a message that is cliche and unimaginative. I’ve seen headlines in Papyrus for everything from Christian rock bands to homemade candles. Can one font really be right for so many disparate products? Looking beyond your computer’s installed fonts will free you to find THE ONE font that really conveys the message of your brand.

2) Use a font manager to browse fonts. My favorite program is Extensis Suitcase. You can type in a word or phrase and see how it will look as you scroll through fonts you have loaded on your computer. Or, you can narrow your search to a specific font attribute (serif, sans serif, decorative, script, and more!). You can also create and save font sets for different projects to keep track of fonts you find along your search. Using this program broadens your search beyond the highlight-text-in-Word-and-select-a-font-from-the-pulldown-menu approach.

3) Consider readability. Yes, Zapf Chancery is a lovely font selection for designing a wedding program. But NO, Zapf Chancery is not ideal for large blocks of text. Save Zapf Chancery for headlines and use a less-embellished font for the main content. A good general rule: for reading large blocks of text, you want to notice the content before you notice the letter forms. Save the very decorative fonts for headlines, logos, or artful applications.

4) Consider historical references. Fonts have deep ties to historical periods that should be considered when selecting a font. For example, Blackletter fonts are based on hand calligraphy of the late medieval period. There are Art Deco fonts, Art Nouveau fonts, fonts associated with the first books, WWII propaganda posters, 1950s children’s books, modern fonts, Psychedelic fonts, and much more! Be intentional about the history you evoke when selecting a font. Understand who created the font and why before you use it. Or, if you plan to reference an historical era, look at examples of printed pieces from that time. A good reference is The History of Graphic Design, by Philip Meggs.

5) Check out these fun resources. Here are some of my favorite fonts sites to check out, with varying prices:

FontShop | Find, Try, Download Fonts
Emigre Home
Emigre, Inc. is a digital type foundry, publisher and distributor of graphic design related software and printed materials based in Northern California. Founded in 1984, coinciding with the birth of the Macintosh, Emigre was one of the first independent type foundries to establish itself centered around personal computer technology.
T.26 Digital Type Foundry
Letterhead Fonts: Rare and Unique Typefaces for Artists
P22 type foundry | Foundry | FontShop
Underware fonts
Underware is a (typo)graphic designstudio which is specialized in designing and producing typefaces, which are published for retail sale or specially tailor-made.
Fontifier – Your own handwriting on your computer!
Your own handwriting on your computer!
WhatTheFont : MyFonts
Download fonts for Mac and PC at MyFonts, the world’s largest collection of fonts online.
TYPE Hoefler & Frere-Jones | Online Catalog
Welcome to Phil’s Fonts
Welcome to Phil’s Fonts
Terminal Design
Our Favorite Fonts of 2005 Part 1 | Typographica
A daily journal of typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on fonts and typographic design.
Wood Type

Chank Fonts