Fonts Matter

While I was at South Station in Boston the other day, I couldn’t help but swoon a bit over a surprising object of affection. A Dunkin’ Donuts sign. Holy crap, right?A pretty font in an unlikely location.

I didn’t start drooling over over-sugared and over-creamed coffee, so don’t pick on me. But really, there’s something about the absence of their ubiquitous and undeniably well-recognized, overstuffed orange and pink letters. Something about the retro, jet-set letters in this bustling environment with rushing travelers calls out to me a little more than their normal modus operandi.

The lean of the letters, the boldness of them, the kerning of a beautifully set bunch of luscious three dimensional characters… and they’re throwbacks. From what I’ve seen of their anniversary fodder they were selling, it does harken back to an older logo, so it’s a bit consistent. Old school donut shop, it beckons.

Now flash over to a comic sans newsletter with neon green lettering or, Gaia forbid it, shadow effect. Then go over to (insert company here) where they paid a designer to make them a one-of-a-kind logo and maybe even a website… but then when they go to send out company material or have some logo apparel made, they don’t bother matching or complimenting those fonts.

Hard truth for you here if you’ve been doing this: You appear to be higgledy piggledy.

YES, PEOPLE NOTICE. LIKE WHEN THEY NOTICE YOU’RE YELLING IF YOU’RE TYPING IN ALL CAPS. or that you’re laid back in the company of friends when you don’t use any caps at all. i do have a fondness for the e.e. cummings approach, but it’s not necessarily professional, unless it’s your branding. And it can be.

Don’t just say you’re aware of all of this, really think about it and look at your materials. I mean, they’re doing research about the emotions elicited by font size for Pete’s sake, you might as well take stock of your font fortune.

Define what fonts are acceptable for company documents, and limit them severely. Honestly, your company (no matter how small) should settle on one font. Go ahead and also set what font sizes you’d like in different situations (headers, the body of documents). Have seniors in the office? Maybe everything should be in 12 or 14 point. Have a sans serif font that appears in your logo? Stay consistent- choose a sans serif font for that flyer or announcement that compliments it if you can’t use the exact font.

Remember this- you work hard. Whether you write a newsletter or put a cup of coffee into the world with some writing on it or if you make widgets, you’re proud of that work. You want people to know it’s your work and come looking for you to get some of that thing you make. This is one way to make sure people know you like a neighbor, feel comfortable with you and recognize your work right away.

And, if you’re like me and consult people in the ways of these things, you need to steer them right even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s what they’ve paid you to do.

I’d love to hear where you’re at with your font-health and your branding. Think you don’t have time for it? Do tell.


One thought on “Fonts Matter

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