How to Find the Perfect Typeface for Your Brand

finding the perfect typeface for your brand

By Nine Blaess | 4:31 min

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    Finding the perfect typeface for your brand to convey your brand’s personality is an important step in creating brand identity. But, the process of choosing the perfect typeface for your brand can feel overwhelming.

    In this article, I will provide tips to help you make the right choice. Before we delve into the world of typography, it is crucial to understand the distinction between a typeface and a font. A typeface is an entire family, while a font is only one style of that family. 

    To find a suitable typeface for your brand, you should look for a typeface that allows for flexibility, be it right away or to adapt to your brand’s future growth. In this post, we will explore the following attributes that affect a typeface’s personality: 

    • Serif vs Sans-serif,
    • High-contrast vs low-contrast,
    • Vertical stress vs diagonal stress,
    • Low x-height vs high x-height,
    • Condensed vs extended,
    • and Rounded letterforms vs angular letterforms. 

    Understanding these attributes, will equip you with the tools needed to choose a typeface that represents your brand’s unique personality.

    Serif vs sans-serif typefaces

    There are many more (sub-) classifications for typefaces, but I only focus on serif vs sans-Serif for now.

    The image shows a comparison between Serif and Sans-serif typefaces by displaying Garamond and Helvetica side by side. Garamond is a Serif typeface, characterized by the small lines or flourishes that extend from the ends of the letters. In contrast, Helvetica is a sans-serif typeface, which lacks these additional lines and has a simpler, more minimalistic appearance.
    Serif vs Sans-serif typefaces

    Serif typefaces

    Serif typefaces date back to the 18th century when stonemasons carved letters into rocks. You can recognise serif typefaces by their decorative flourishes at the end of their letterforms, called serifs.

    Due to their history, serif typefaces are perceived as elegant, trustworthy and established. Law firms, wineries or newspapers might use a serif typeface to come across as reliable and sophisticated.

    Yet, there has been a trend to a more playful application of serif typefaces in recent years.

    Some well-known serif typefaces are BaskervilleTimes New Roman and Garamond. Open-source alternatives include Playfair Display and Lora.

    Sans-serif typefaces

    Sans-serif typefaces emerged around 1800. But, they only gained popularity in the 1920 –30s through the Bauhaus movement.

    Sans-serif typefaces are modern and clean. We often use them in everyday, approachable designs. You will come across sans-serif typefaces in a range of industries, from sports to tech companies.

    FuturaUnivers and Helvetica are popular sans-serif typefaces. If you are looking for open-source alternatives, consider RobotoOpen Sans or Source Sans Pro by Google Fonts.

    Tip: For font pairing, don’t choose two typefaces of the same classification. Pairing a sans-serif with a serif is a better choice because they contrast one another, not compete.

    High contrast vs low contrast typefaces

    The contrast of a typeface describes the variation of the stroke width within a character. High-contrast typefaces, with their exaggerated variation of the stroke width, convey classiness, while low-contrast typefaces communicate sturdiness and trust.

    You will find high-contrast typefaces used for luxury fashion labels or hotels to imply exclusivity and high prices.

    Bodoni is a classic example of a high-contrast typeface. Check out Prata as a free alternative to Bodoni.

    Image comparing the typefaces Bodoni and Helvetica to illustrate the contrast between low and high contrast fonts. The Bodoni typeface has high contrast with thin hairline strokes and thick serifs, while the Helvetica typeface has low contrast with uniform strokes and no serifs.
    High contrast vs low contrast typefaces

    Tip: Don‘t use high contrast typefaces for body text. Their delicate strokes make them illegible in small sizes.

    Vertical stress vs diagonal stress

    The stress of the axis refers to the angle at which the contrast occurs in letterforms. Look at the letter O to determine the stress of the axis.

    Typefaces with diagonal stress, such as Garamond, originate from the calligraphy in old-style roman typography. They have a warm, human feel and are often used for body text in printed materials.

    In contrast, typefaces with vertical stress, such as Bodoni, are more modern and convey a sense of stability and formality. 

    Image demonstrates the difference between vertical stress and angular stress in typography by comparing Bodoni, a typeface with high contrast and vertical stress, with Garamond, a typeface with lower contrast and angular stress.
    Vertical stress vs angular stress typefaces

    Tip: For font pairing, use two typefaces with similar stress to match them up.

    Low x-height vs high x-height typefaces

    The x-height, or the height of a lowercase x, can influence the mood and readability of a typeface. A low x-height conveys delicacy and luxury, while a higher x-height looks strong and solid.

    X-height should be considered carefully in body text. Fonts with small x-heights can become hard to read in small sizes, as their counters (the enclosed spaces in letters such as c) tend to optically fill up, making a c look like an o.

    Meanwhile, typefaces with very high x-heights can also present challenges to legibility. When we reading, our brains recognize the shapes of words, rather than individual letters. In typefaces with an overly large x-height, the eye may struggle to distinguish these word shapes, leading to reduced readability.

    Mr Eaves is an example of a typeface with a low x-height that conveys delicacy and refinement, while Helvetica, with its high x-height, looks solid and strong.

    The image displays a comparison of two typefaces, Mr Eaves and Helvetica, to illustrate the difference in their x-heights. Mr Eaves has a relatively low x-height, while Helvetica has a higher x-height in comparison. The text is presented in black on a white background.
    Low x-height vs high x-height typefaces

    Tip: For font pairing, choose typefaces with a similar x-height to make them feel harmonious.

    Condensed vs extended

    Condensed fonts are designed with a narrow width and tight spacing, which makes them useful for fitting a lot of text into a small space. They are often used in newspaper headlines or other situations where space is at a premium.

    Condensed fonts have a precise and efficient look that can convey a sense of reliability and professionalism. They also tend to have a more intense, energetic feeling, which makes them suitable for designs related to sports or other high-energy activities.

    On the other hand, extended fonts have a wider width and more generous spacing, which gives them a spacious and open feeling. They are often used in designs that communicate positivity, lightness, and airiness. 

    Examples of condensed fonts include Arial Narrow and Gotham Condensed. Examples of extended fonts include Optima and Franklin Gothic Wide.

    The image compares the typography of Akzidenz Grotesk condensed and Akzidenz Grotesk extended, showcasing the contrast between the two variations. The condensed font appears taller and narrower, while the extended font appears wider and more spread out.
    Condensed vs extended typeface

    Tip: Some typefaces, often superfamilies, come with narrow and extended weights. Combine both weights to create tension.

    Rounded letterforms vs angular letterforms

    Rounded letterforms are often associated with positive emotions, such as happiness, comfort, and friendliness. They suggest softness and playfulness, making them a great fit for brands targeting children or families.

    A study showed that people associate positive qualities like sprightly, sparkling, dreamy, and soaring with curved, light and possibly sans-serif typefaces.

    On the other hand, angular letterforms evoke a sense of strength, stability, and authority, making them a popular choice for corporate branding and businesses in the finance or legal industries.

    To sum up, selecting the appropriate typeface for your brand can be challenging. When looking for a typeface, you should choose one that provides flexibility for different purposes and future growth.

    Before deciding on typography, be clear about your brand’s personality. The choice of typeface can significantly impact your brand’s identity. By considering the different aspects above, you can identify one or more typefaces that suit your brand.

    Finally, you can always pair different typefaces that complement and contrast them to come up with harmonious designs.

    If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to learn about what goes into choosing the perfect colour palette for your brand.


    This blog post was inspired by “Typography 01” by The Futur and the “Flawless Typography Checklist” by Typewolf. I highly recommend both.

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