Fonts, lettering, typography, characters, print, typeface, no matter what you call them, they are vital to your brand!
As a designer, fonts are like second nature to me. I can walk down an aisle at the grocery store and probably rattle off way more fonts that I see on product packaging than I'd like to admit! But to almost everyone else, fonts are probably a mystery! There are tens of thousands to pick from and that might seem awfully overwhelming! And that's okay, it was to me at first too!
Now, I don't expect you to become an expert, but I do want to show you how to have fun with finding and choosing a font (or fonts) that are right for you!
Before starting any logo design project, I always have my clients complete a logo design questionnaire. About halfway through the form, I have a question that reads:
"For your typography, do you have any font preferences (such as bold, light, all caps, all lowercase, handwritten, etc.)?" Here are a few of the actual answers I've received:
Umm, not really as long as it looks good!
This would be the department I'm the worst at.
Whatever works with the whole package, which do you feel works best?
Once I click the drop-down there are just too many to choose from.
Yes, these are actual responses I've received. And my personal favorite:
Well, in my opinion, a font is just as important as the colors and an icon or symbol. You should choose something that of course you like, but that also is a fabulous representation of your brand. Seriously, if I surprised a construction company with a cursive font, do you think that would go over very well? Probably not!
Like almost everything else online these days, there are dozens of resources available to help you find fonts. I'm going to share with you one particular site that I have come to know and love - DaFont.com. Not only do they have thousands of fonts to choose from, but they cleverly sort them by category and style to help you narrow down the ones you prefer.
PLUS, and this is where it gets really fun, you can enter your company name, tagline, or any text you want to see a live preview of, for virtually all of the fonts available!
Oh and the good news doesn't stop there! All of the fonts are FREE to download! Yup, FREE!
I am going to walk you through the process, then you can spend some time narrowing down your favorites! You don't have to pick just one, heck I'd recommend having at least 3 favorites (if not more)! But being able to nail down specific fonts by name instead of asking me to "surprise you" will save us both a lot of time, trial-and-error, and unnecessary revisions.
Before I set you loose on your font finding mission, I should probably give you a little context to help you make sense of some of the most common font categories out there, Sans Serif, Serif, Script & Novelty. I should also point out that the examples I'm showing you are directly from the DaFont website, so I apologize if the red feels a little out of place or "in your face"!
Type 1 | Sans Serif:
Sans Serif describes a font style that does not have little "feet" (or serifs) on the end of the strokes. Arial is a great example of one of the most common sans serif fonts. There are many variations within these styles, such as bold (thick) and light (thin) versions.
Type 2 | Serif:
A serif is a small decorative line that's added as a little flair to the basic strokes found in sans serif fonts. There are also the same variations of bold and light styles within this category. One of the most common serif fonts is Times New Roman.
Type 3 | Script:
There are several sub-categories of script fonts, such as calligraphy, hand-written, and graffiti. Some of these work great as an elegant font when appropriate, but some of them are very hard to read and should be discouraged. So this is a great example of why previewing these fonts with your text can make a huge difference (I get into this more in detail below).
Type 4 | Novelty:
There are by far more novelty fonts available than the other 3 categories! Everything from cartoonish to medieval to holidays, you could get lost for days checking them all out. Typically, these fonts don't work well for a logo, but there are exceptions to every rule... and they sure are fun to play with!
So now that I've given you a little overview, let's start breaking down the steps to choosing the best font for your logo!
Step 1 | DaFont.com:
The first step is to open another browser tab or window, then navigate to DaFont.com.
Step 2 | Category Selection:
Once you are on the site, the first thing you'll see across the top is all of the categories to get you started:
Using the overview I gave you above, go ahead and select a category that you'd like to start with! For the sake of this walk-through, I chose Sans Serif.
Step 3 | Custom Preview:
After you've chosen your category, look for the preview section to customize your font previews:
You can play around with these options to suit your preferences:
Preview: Simply enter the name, tagline, or other text you want in this area
Fonts: Select how many different fonts per page you'd like to preview
Show Variants: To see available variations (bold, italic, etc) check this box, otherwise leave it alone
Size: Choose from Tiny, Small, Medium, or Large
Sort By: Depending on your goals, you can sort by Name, Popularity, or the Newer Ones First
Then just click "Submit" and let the fun begin!
Step 4 | Browse & Preview Fonts:
You will see between 10 - 100 different fonts per page, depending on what you selected. In virtually all of the categories, there will be multiple pages, so be sure to look for the gray bar at the top and bottom of each page with numbered links to continue on to see more pages. Here it is again, just so you don't miss it:
By now you'll be spending some time pouring through the pages and options galore!
Step 5 | Select & Download Fonts:
When you find a font you love and definitely want to try as an option for your logo, click on the "Download" button on the right-hand side of the one you've chosen:
This will immediately open a download box so you can save it to your computer. You can continue repeating this process as long as you'd like, until you have a handful of options to play with.
Step 6 | Verify Licensing:
While all of the fonts are free to download, they are not all free for commercial use. The fonts are their authors' property, and are either freeware, shareware, demo versions, or public domain. The licence mentioned above the download button is just an indication. Please look at the "readme" files in the archives or check the indicated author's website for details. When in doubt, we can contact him/her and in most cases a font that is not 100% free may require a small donation to the author for commercial use (typically just the cost of a latte!).
And that's it! You can now install them on your computer to test them out, send them to me for proofing purposes, or do whatever you want with them.
I hope this guide is helpful and creates a fun project for you to get excited about your new logo design! And of course if there's any other questions you have or anything else I could help you out with, please don't hesitate to contact me!