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Foundations of Typography in Branding

Humans communicate through spoken and written language, paired with visual cues. Typographic design lives at the intersection of these methods. Typography is the device designers and communicators use to convey the messaging, tone, and sentiment of a piece of copywriting past words. Understanding typography will allow you to leverage the visual dimension of communication through words, increasing the impact of your message.

Tosin Odugbemi flipping through a book with gold pages and black lettering.
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written languagelegible, readable and appealing when displayed.

Definition from Wikipedia.


One of the most important decisions you will make for your brand is the fonts you will use. Your fonts will have a ubiquitous presence across all platforms and contribute significantly to your business atmosphere. When choosing brand fonts, you should have at least two: a heading text font and a body text font. We often find it helpful to include a third font for subheadings and other design elements. In this article, we will use the words “typeface” and “font” heavily, so it is vital to understand the difference to grasp the concepts presented fully. Below, we have defined each term.


type·face

/ˈtīpˌfās/

noun

A set of letters and numbers designed to exist under the same umbrella with variations in size, boldness, italicization, width, and more.


font

/fänt/

noun

A complete character set within a typeface, of a particular size, weight, and style.

Typeface vs Font diagram

Importance of Consistency

Some brands remain in one typeface and use different hierarchy tools (like making the text bold, italicized, or sized up). Others choose three different fonts from three different typeface families. The key here is consistency. Keep versatility, availability and legibility in mind when making this decision, so you don’t have to add more fonts to your original selections. From print collateral to web design to signage, the fonts you choose should work well at different scales and formats. Be specific about the weighting, slant, and spacing for clean consistency. Remember that a typeface in italics, bolds, and regular is technically three different fonts. One of the most common issues we see in messy branding is inconsistent and superfluous font usage, so take a lean approach and narrow yourself down to three fonts at a maximum. Be disciplined and stick with it.

Typeface Styles

There are three main categories of types. Serifs, sans serifs and scripts.


Serifs

These typefaces have slight strokes to finish off the stroke of each letter or number. They often are smooth a rounded and have slight weight variations in the details of each letter. Due to their history, serif fonts have classical connotations. They evoke feelings of tradition, candour, and integrity. Their legibility has been debated, so often, designers opt out of using serifs for large blocks of text.


Sans-Serifs

These typefaces do not have extra strokes on the ends of the letterforms and take on minimalist shapes. They are modern, sleek, pure, and geometric. Sans-serifs are highly legible and can be utilized in long-form content for accessibility.


Scripts

These typefaces mimic cursive handwriting and embrace fluid letterforms. They range from formal to casual, either appearing as professional calligraphy, as a whimsically handwritten note, or somewhere in between. Scripts are elegant and stylized and work well in small doses. However, they are unsuitable for body text.

For a detailed overview of font licensing and a list of our favourite foundries to find unique and relevant typefaces for your brand, you can shop our e-book and toolkit, “The Essential Guide to Visual Branding.”


For more information about working with us, reach out at atelier@oluwatosin.net or read about our branding services here.

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