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Choosing Fonts: Foolproof Combos For Your Business

by Margot Harrington

March 26, 2015 / Updated: September 8, 2022
Custom handwritten font design for an e-commerce baby brand

There certainly are a dizzying array of fonts available these days and it can be tough to know where to start looking! Need help with the fonts, colors, and graphics that go along with your logo to make up your brand identity? You can find ideas for exactly how to use your fonts here in our free downloadable logo help guide.

choosing fonts guide
choosing fonts guide

This infographic explains the fundamentals of typography and the classifications into which fonts are sorted. Running through these and cross-checking with your business can help define if you are a serif business, sans, script fan, or some combo of all three. A graphic designer will likely refer to your font options using these terms when choosing fonts for your business.

A designer’s eye

Someone who works with fonts is trained to be sensitive to the various styles, history, and usage trends, paired with the concept behind your business when selecting typefaces for you. At any given time I’ve got a dozen or so fonts I’ve been crushing on that I look at first when picking fonts for a client. And because I work with a lot of branding, it’s important to be aware of what else is going on in the landscape to make sure I don’t repeat or copy anyone else’s font usage exactly. It’s mostly research, and scrolling through pages and pages of typefaces from various type foundries, but there’s also a whiff of gut reaction (like oooh yes this one is perfect) that comes into play too. It’s hard to explain exactly, but not everything can be totally systematic when working with visuals. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be an art, it would be a science!

Font budget

Budget is also a factor. Most small businesses spend an average of $200 on their custom-picked package of fonts with desktop and web licenses. This varies depending on how grassroots or high-end a business is. There are quite a few free fonts available which helps too, but this is an area to be mindful of because often free fonts are buggy, overused, amateurish in design, or an awkward hybrid of styles. It’s better to stick to simple looks if selecting free fonts and save your money for a rarer fine specimen later. Lost Type Co. offers a pay-what-you-want model for their carefully crafted options. Google Fonts are reasonable too, but I stay away from services like Da Font or 1001 Free Fonts for reasons I mentioned above.

Choosing fonts

I start looking by picking out 3-4 adjectives that describe the client or their work and punch that into (my most often used font service) to start the process. Are they upscale & glamorous? Or more no-frills and approachable? Friendly and sweet or refined and austere? Are their products handmade, or manufactured? Are they on the edge of the trends or prefer a more classic approach? If the business involves creative work like illustration or photography, a memorable display font for their name and a simple font for supporting information is typically enough – most of the “brand” comes from their work, and whatever graphics I select or create need to highlight their work instead of compete with it.

Choosing font combinations

Once I have a couple of options in mind, I pick 1-2 well-contrasting others for uniqueness, pizazz, and that extra special something. More contrast is best, as using two similar typefaces won’t be dramatic enough. Almost all online font providers allow basic typesetting in words of your choice which helps get a better “real life” sense. Sometimes I screenshot this text and bring it into Photoshop to manipulate it even more to test it out, but this is a tedious way to typeset and means replicating this work with the real font once its been purchased so it’s not my first choice if I can avoid it.

choosing witty fonts
choosing energetic fonts
dignified fonts

The images above are from this fantastic guideline for pairing fonts and what makes for good harmony.

feminine fonts

Nesha shows us 5 best feminine Google Font combos here.

5 best elegant google fonts

Web Designer’s Journey shows the 5 most elegant Google Font combos:

beachy fonts

And because I’m itching for Spring (oooh we might crack 40ºF next week here in Chicago! Break out ya sunscreen!) here are some free fonts inspired by California by June Letters Studio!

Get your logo help guide

This is a document we created for Aeolidia clients. It gives you ideas on how to use your graphics, fonts, and colors.

See the original post for the full information:
How to Be Creative (Not Crazy) With a Beautiful Brand Design

Brand consulting

These resources should get you cooking, but should you run into a jam or are looking for a more custom look, you know who to call (or, email, rather these days) to get you sorted! I’m happy to do a consulting session with you on your brand if you are looking for fresh eyes and some new ideas on where to take things next. Get in touch for rates and availability!

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