Your Brand Identity: the Importance of Fonts
There's a reason that whole books have been written about fonts and brand styling - it's more important than you think. Having the right font and consistently using it as a way of reinforcing your brand is a marketing strategy that has stood the test of time. Look at famous brands like Coca-Cola or IBM and you'll notice that their fonts have changed very little despite their long history. The reason is that customers identify with that specific font and automatically associate it with its respective company. Wouldn't you like your customers to feel the same way about your font when they receive one of your custom postcards?
We're not going far down the rabbit hole today, but rest assured that you can dig as deep as you want when it comes to learning about fonts. Let's start with the basics - the standard types of fonts you're likely to find when you're working on a fast postcard direct mailing.
Common Font Categories:
- Sans-serif - Basic fonts with very few flourishes (Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma).
- Serif - Many letters have flourishes or embellishments (Garamond, Palatino, Times New Roman).
- Script - Cursive fonts that are heavy on flourishes (look for "script" in the name).
- Display - Decorative and stylish fonts commonly used in logos.
- Handwriting - Fonts meant to imitate natural handwriting.
How Many Fonts?
Generally speaking, your business logo should only have one or two fonts. Your primary font is the one that will receive the most focus and a secondary font will add a feeling of contrast. However, combining fonts can be tricky business. If it makes sense to use two fonts, look for a primary one that is more decorative (Serif, Script, Display, or Handwriting) and a Sans-serif secondary font.
Which Font Is Right?
Of course, if you're a retail shop selling high-end goods, you're not going to print your own postcard with a heavy metal, AC/DC font - it just doesn't fit, except in an ironic, hipster way. Think about the business image you're trying to project and your target demographic of customers. If the majority of your customers are elderly, it makes sense to have a bigger and more-spaced font to be easier to read. Ask yourself what style and specific features would appeal to your client base and then go from there.
What About Online Fonts?
We know what you're probably thinking - you've found a great font, but will it appear correctly on your website? Unfortunately, the answer is probably not. When a person visits your website, only those fonts that are installed on their computer will be rendered correctly, but there are a few solutions to this common problem. The first is to use .jpg pictures where your primary font should be found and then a standard secondary font for all page text. The other idea is to choose one of the many Google web fonts as it will appear exactly the same online as it does on printed materials. The downside of web fonts is that your options will be severely reduced.
Brand Style Guide
By now, you should understand why fonts and your brand identity are integral to the success of your business, but we're going to push the concept one step further. Even if your company is a small operation, it pays to create a brand style guide. Essentially, a brand style guide is a document that dictates every aspect of how your brand logo should be used, including which fonts are acceptable.
You probably won't end up with a 48-page style manifesto a la Apple, but 1-2 pages should be enough to communicate your design ideas and keep a consistent feel across all your online and printed materials. This website has an excellent guide to creating a basic brand style guide. If you want to see just how complex a style guide can be and maybe draw a little inspiration, check out the examples here.
It may seem like a lot of work, but using the right font in your best mailing ideas can make a major difference in how you're perceived by your customers. Explore different options and find the one that perfectly exemplifies your business.