Serifs, Scripts and Everything In Between: How Fonts Impact Your Content Marketing
Font choice is as important as the quality of your content, regardless of platform. Fonts elicit an immediate emotional response. They are a picture form of your content, and you must consider what message that picture is sending. The best content with the wrong typography can turn off a reader immediately, ruining your best marketing efforts and wasting your time and marketing spend.
Some basic knowledge of typography when choosing fonts is important, especially if you are doing your own marketing and not using an agency:
1. What is the difference between typography, typefaces and fonts?
- Typography is the art of selecting and arranging type.
- A typeface is like the parent of a font with many children, all with similar characteristics.
- A font is the child member of a typeface.
Example: EB Garamond is a typeface. Fonts available include EB Garamond Light, Medium, Semi-Bold, Bold, Extra Bold. Each is unique, but they are all part of the same typeface family.
2. Serif or Sans Serif font?
- A “serif” is a small, decorative line, stroke or projection attached to the end of a font family’s letters and symbols.
- Sans serif fonts have no projections on the fonts.
There are pros and cons to both. The use of one or the other depends on what type of content you are producing: Will this be a logo? A blog? A website? Heading subordination scheme? Will you be using this content in print or online or both?
- Sans serif fonts are considered to be more modern, streamlined, clean and objective. They are often used for logos and websites. However, they can be harder to read, especially in smaller sizes.
- Serif fonts are the easiest to read and the font of choice for print products. Serif fonts tend to convey history, authority, respect, tradition, quality and class.
- To add to your dizzying array of font choices, many designers choose a combination of serif and sans serif fonts to create a visually appealing content design. Don’t overdo it though. In this case, less is more..
Our Points Group logo and website text uses a sans serif font for a sleek and modern look.
3. The importance of color in fonts
Color is a form of nonverbal communication. Again, your intended message, the placement of your content, and your audience should dictate color usage, as well as your brand image. Color usage has its own psychology. Each color conveys different emotions and messages. Color theory is a science and there are even color consultants.
- Research which colors work best for your target audience. The meaning of color is not universal — there are regional considerations. A simple Google search will provide a slew of online resources, blogs and articles that provide useful information on the meanings of colors. For example, green is associated with wealth, health and wellbeing. You may see it used by the healthcare industry as well as financial institutions, such as banks or accounting and investment firms.
- Color contrast is important. If your background is a dark color, such as black, gray, brown or green, you’ll need a very light font color, such as white or cream or a very light version of another color in your palette that complements your background color. Pale fonts on pale backgrounds are usually unreadable.
- Neon colors are difficult to read.
- About 1 in 10 men are colorblind (99 percent are red/green colorblind) and about 0.4 percent of women. Is your target audience primarily male? If so, you need to keep this in mind when choosing your color pallette. In general, colorblindness inclusionary content is a best practice regardless of your target audience.
4. The role of text hierarchy in typography choice
Online readers have extremely short attention spans. How you arrange your text will affect whether they will choose to read more than your meta-description.
- A hierarchy of headings, also known as heading subordination, is crucial to making your content easier to read, understand, and move through quickly.
- Not all text in your content, regardless of type, carries the same level of importance. You can show the importance level through choice of font, size, weight, color and kerning. For example, header fonts need to pop. As the most important text, they should stand out the most.
- Body text is least important and should impart ease of readability and consistency (do not mix up your fonts in your body text).
- Using an appropriate font and color palette to designate hierarchy will decrease or eliminate reader confusion and keep them on your site.
5. The subject of your content dictates which typeface and font you should use
You never want to create a disconnect for your reader because you chose an incongruous font for your content. For example, you would not use Curlz for the body text of a blog about post-surgical home care. This is an extreme example, but you get the idea. A few typefaces and their uses include:
- Script fonts are light and elegant, often used on invitations, certificates and other professional degrees or awards. This font is not readable as body copy and should be used sparingly.
- Hand-lettering fonts are meant to look like handwriting. For example, they can be used to mimic a child’s handwriting, a quickly scribbled memo, or writing on a chalkboard or whiteboard. Hand lettering fonts add a human element that people can relate to. These are often used in direct mail campaigns.
- Display fonts are meant to grab your audience’s attention. These typically show up on banners, in newspapers and event posters. They are not meant for body text and should be used sparingly. Due to extreme boldness, a little goes a long way.
6. Typography is an integral part of your brand imaging.
- When you are designing your brand identity, your typography creates your business’ personality.
- Are you bold and edgy? Modern and sleek? Solid and a professional authority? Educational? What atmosphere are you creating for your readers?
- Choosing the correct typeface for your brand identity, arranging it correctly and using it consistently allows you to express that identity before any text is read.
7. Never use Comic Sans.
- There are a number of fonts that designers (and many readers) absolutely hate. Comic Sans is at the top of the list.
- Papyrus is another, so much so that it was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit. You know you’re using the wrong font when SNL produces a feature skit about it.
Your goal is to engage your readers, elicit a reaction and persuade them. You’re creating a visual masterpiece of content. When in doubt, choose an experienced agency who can help you design the right brand image for you and convey that to your audience. Points Group has over 20 years of experience and can help you create your typographical masterpiece. Contact us today for a quote. We offer package and a la carte pricing for the small business budget to full service campaigns.
Further reading and watching on the use of typography in everyday life:
- Helvetica – documentary by Gary Hustwit