The Psychology of Fonts
The fonts that you choose in your marketing can have an influence on how people connect with your content on an emotional level.
(In this post, am using the term “fonts” to describe fonts in general, including typefaces. However, technically typefaces are the letters, numbers, and symbols that share a certain design. Fonts are the different set of glyphs within a typeface. A typeface can have many font families within it.)
Why are fonts important? Think about the last ad that you saw. What caught your eye? Probably the colors, images, and words. But were the words easy to read? Were different fonts used in the same visual element? Did the font styles flow together, or did they contrast each other? You may not have consciously thought about these questions, but your subconscious mind was noticing. If you look at the history of font usage in marketing, you will notice a trend towards more simplistic, cleaner fonts. Gone are the days of complex, ornate fonts used in branding and visual content. Consider the difference between these three fonts:
Which of these is easiest for you to read? If you are like most of the general population, the first or second fonts are probably the easiest for your brain to understand. According to a study by MDG Advertising, decorative fonts are harder for people to read, particularly in large amounts. There is a reason that most word processing systems have Arial or Calibri as their default fonts. That does not mean that decorative fonts don’t have their place in marketing, but they should be used sparingly and not in large text areas.
How do you choose the right font for your purposes? You want to consider several factors when choosing the font (or fonts) to select for your creative:
- Brand – refer to your brand guidelines and make sure you are incorporating your brand font appropriately. In most cases, you are not going to want to introduce many new fonts into your creative if you already have primary and secondary fonts as part of your brand guidelines.
- Form – if you are creating an infographic, you may want the simplest font that is easier for the eye to read. If you are creating a website banner, you might want a bolder font that is in the same font family as your logo font.
- Function – are you developing a creative piece that is meant for your audience to click on? You will want to make sure that font is large enough for people to read and click on with their mouse or finger (on mobile devices).
- Intent – are you looking to make a splash with your creative? Perhaps an over-emphasized or unusual font style would be appropriate. (But do so sparingly.)
- Channel – this is another area where accessibility standards are important. If you are creating a piece of content to be used on a digital platform such as your website, you will want to choose a font that can be interpreted correctly by most devices. If you are creating something for print, make sure that your fonts can withstand the print process without blurring or adjustments.
- Environment – put together, different fonts can appear more or less cohesive. It is also important to pay attention to the other visual elements around the fonts.
It can take time to figure out the best font pairings for your marketing efforts. And it is another good reason why you should hire an experienced graphic designer. If your font pairings are not cohesive to the eye, it will interrupt the message getting through to the audience’s brains.