Fonts can have a big impact on design and marketing. Without graphics, fonts alone can suggest levels of professionalism, levels of experience, a particular outlook, gravitas, and even volume!
A lot of it is common sense, and fonts can be selected for their suitability to a specific industry. An extreme case would be a modern, distressed, urban font being used for a funeral directors (fig.1) – it just wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) happen. For an insurance broker, financial advisor or similar white collar company you would expect a more formal, conservative and long-established font. Similarly, a skateboard shop wouldn’t use Times italic, for example (fig.2). So, as a general rule, the target audience and your business kind of dictates the style of lettering that should be used. There are always exceptions though and sometimes the opposite of what you would expect could work, in exceptional circumstances.
A serious font implies a serious outlook or approach, suggesting you know what you’re talking about – authoritative in that field. You’ll appear well-versed on the matter, breeding customer confidence. A more light-hearted approach may be needed though, like in a magazine or newsletter article, where you’re making friends with the audience – more chatty than instructional. A casual, approachable font may be in order. Not ‘Comic Sans’ though, please – pre-school nurseries should be the only businesses using that font! As mentioned, it really depends on your sector and your audience.
Limit the number of fonts to be used. Unless your creating a circus poster, don’t make every line of text a different typeface, or it will get very messy. Make it easy on the eye (and therfore the brain!) by using two fonts, maybe three. These could be the same font but in different weights, like light and heavy, or fonts that really contrast with each other… A modern, sans serif font (where characters don’t have the fancy bits at the end of strokes) coupled with an older, serifed font, or a casual hand drawn style with a clean, geometric font (fig.3). My advice would be not to use two serifed fonts or two sans serif fonts, as they won’t be different enough. Arial alongside Helvetica for instance would be pretty pointless for the general public (and simply annoying for designers!) Fig.4 shows that contrasting weights of the same font family means you don’t even need to use spaces (for a logo or headline) as the brain differentiates between the words because the contrast is so great.
We hope that helps. If in doubt, drop Tristan a line – email or phonecall – for free advice 🙂