Advice from a graphic designer: how to select the right font or typeface for your small business
Have you ever noticed that large businesses use the same typeface (or “font”) for everything? How boring! Could it be that we’re lazy or is there something more too it? No, it’s not laziness, there’s something a lot more at work here: brand consistency.
In addition to your company logo identity, choosing a company font/typeface will help to build a consistent, credible business brand. So what exactly is a company typeface or font? For this article, a company font or typeface is the official, specifically selected font that everyone in the company uses on ALL of their marketing and collateral materials, as well as internal documents.
Most businesses don’t give a company font even a thought. Fewer companies have a consistent font that is used on all of their marketing materials. Typically, a business owner and her/his staff use an unorganized, random assortment of fonts depending on the day and who’s typing. There is a wealth of fonts from which to choose, but you’ll soon discover that variety isn’t the spice of life when it comes to a company font.
Fonts have personalities, and just like your company’s graphics and logo, they have to support your message and business brand. Some fonts look serious, some playful, some formal, and some are downright silly. What’s important is that your company font must match your company’s image and personality. When used in conjunction with a strong business brand logo, choosing a company font will reinforce your company’s personality and brand image.
Could you imagine, a formal, prestigious law firm that’s using a font that has little hearts as punctuation, how about an ice cream store using a sterile, rigid font for all of their correspondence? I know, these examples are ridiculous, but they happen. As a small business owner, make sure you are sending a clear, consistent image and message to your customers, and part of that includes selecting and implementing a company font.
If you’ve never chosen a company font, read on for a five-minute primer on what you need to consider in choosing the right font for your company.
What to Consider When Choosing a Company Font
- Make sure that it’s legible: large and small sizes, faxed, and color & B/W.
- Make sure you have the rights to the font and that you can easily install it on all of your office computers.
- Test, test, and then test again. Avoid what most business owners do and only ask friends and family. Always remember to put your customers and prospects if they like the font choice you’ve made. They are the ones buying from you, so their opinion matters most. Your brother-in-law might think you’ve made a wonderful choice, but if your customers hate it, you’re in trouble.
- If your customers are older people or seniors, pay closer attention to readability. Test all of your font sizes on your customers so you can identify the smallest point size you should use and still be easily readable.
What’s At Stake If You Pick the Wrong Font?
- Irritate and frustrate customers if they have trouble reading your content
- There’s a fair chance that if customers can’t read your content, they’ll become disinterested and go somewhere else.
- Changing fonts on a regular basis confuses your customers and makes you lose consistency, credibility, and it makes your company look amateurish.
- Deciding down the road that you’ve selected the wrong font will cost you plenty of time and money in replacing collateral materials, updating websites, and introducing staff and customers to the new font.
Business owners typically stick with the default fonts in Microsoft’s Office Suite: Times and Arial. And while settling on either of these fonts isn’t a horrible mistake, keep in mind that most businesses out there settle on them too, so there won’t be much difference between you and them. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a savvy business owner, and you’re looking for every advantage you can get. Avoid going with the status quo.
The Bottom Line for Sharp Business Owners:
Hopefully you’ve seen there’s a lot more too this and there’s a lot more at stake. Sure, it’s not like securing your first business loan, but it’s still important because your image is important. Sending a clear, consistent message to your customers is critical. If design and marketing isn’t your forte, work with a marketing/design professional to help you select the right company font for you. She/he will be able to work with you on finding a font that will appeal to you and attract your ideal customers.
Remember that inconsistency can make you lose credibility with your customers, and that can dramatically affect your bottom line and sales. Invest a little more time as you’re establishing your business image, consider a company font – just pick it and stick with it.