We all love to find a font that stops us in our tracks – but have you ever stopped to think about why? As it turns out, there’s so much more to font selection than simple aesthetics. Every visual element evokes something in us, and text is no exception.
As a strategic brand expert, I carefully select every font with its psychology in mind. I want your fonts to serve your mission and attract the attention of your dream customers. So, which kind of font is right for you? Diving into your brand identity will help you decide.
The Psychology Behind The 5 Major Font Groups
Most strategic designers recognize five major font groups. They each bring a lot to the table, evoking psychological and emotional responses that will tell your audience plenty about your brand and your business without them even realizing it.
Font selection affects the mood and perception of your brand from the jump – which is why it’s so important to have a clear grasp of your brand identity so that we can build each element to match who you truly are.
1. Serif Fonts: Traditional and Trusted
Serif fonts are the OG text option – they’ve been around for centuries. Because of this, they evoke a sense of established credibility. You’ll almost always see them listed as the default options in programs even now (Times New Roman being the most popular). Publishers and news media still gravitate toward serif selections, along with law firms, financial institutions, and academia. If you’re trying to build that trustworthiness factor in your messaging, serifs are a great place to start.
2. Sans Serif Fonts: Modern and Minimal
Sans Serif fonts showed up next on the typeface scene, offering a cleaner, streamlined look. Without decorative elements on each letter, they offer a simple, no-nonsense approach that breaks ties with the traditional. Brands that choose sans serif are often progressive and relatable – you’ll often see these kinds of fonts employed on social media sites and by medical companies, as well as some clothing brands. If your business wants to appear friendly and evoke a clean, clear vibe, sans serif fonts are a perfect fit.
3. Slab Serif Fonts: Capable and Confident
The slab look takes a traditional serif font and turns it on its head with bolder, bigger lines for a versatile look that draws attention right away. Perfect for innovative brands and industry disruptors, slab serifs are powerful enough to pack a messaging punch before your audience even reads what the text actually says. You’ll find slab serif fonts used by auto brands and tech start-ups. I will say that the slab serif fell out of popularity for a long time, bit in the past few years it has really been used again.
4. Script Fonts: Feminine and Elegant
If you’re looking for a personal, elegant touch in your brand, script fonts offer just that with their handwritten flair. Choosing a legible font is crucial in this category, but strategic designers will know just what to choose to help your customers feel like your message was written just for them.
You’ll see script fonts employed by brands who want to evoke romance or playfulness, as well as high-end stores and restaurants that want a touch of sophistication in their style. If your brand is feminine, delicate, or luxurious, you’ll want a script font in your arsenal (even if it is just an accent).
5. Display Fonts: Flexible and Fun
Want a unique font that doesn’t fit neatly into any of the above categories? A display font is your best bet. These casual, edgy selections work beautifully in logos or short headlines, although you won’t usually find them used for long-form text or headers. Because these fonts can be tweaked to match your brand’s personality, their flexibility makes them a dream for logo creation. You’ll find brands using display fonts to evoke novelty and individuality, drawing potential clients in with their interesting aesthetic. (But beware of readability with these!)
I want to note, that these are generalized font psychology ideas…within each major group of fonts are so many more nuances that can influence your brand.
Even with Fonts, Strategy is Everything
Still, feel overwhelmed by font selection? Take a look at these popular samples and see what speaks to you, and then use your new knowledge to see what that choice says about your brand and your business. If you’re ready for a rebrand but don’t know what to choose, a designer can build a strategic brand with the perfect text aesthetic built right in. Happy font hunting!