There’s a good chance that your logo is mostly typography, so picking the right font is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you have a remarkable logo.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the fonts out there, so I’ve designed this guide to help simplify the process. You don’t need to be an expert on fonts to choose the right font(s) for your logo, but it is essential that you know what you’re looking for, and that you be intentional in your font choosing process.
Let’s start with 4 simple rules for choosing a font for your logo.
Rule 1: Make sure that the font you select matches the message or purpose of your logo.
People evaluate fonts based on how appropriate they are to their context. If a font seems to fit with its context, people like it. If it doesn’t, people dislike it. That’s because the more fitting a font is, the faster people will process it, and people like to process things quickly.
When choosing a font for your logo, it’s essential for you to first understand your brand and what you want to convey with your logo. When you have an idea of the concepts and feelings you want your logo to convey, you will be able to choose a font for your logo that effectively speaks to your customers. That’s why it’s so important to go through an intentional branding process <link> before you choose your logo fonts.
Rule 2: Choose a font that resonates with your target audience.
Part of your branding process is thinking about your target audience and who they are. When you know who you are targeting with your brand, you can choose a logo font that resonates with them.
Rule 3: Select a font that’s legible and looks good regardless of size.
Remember, your logo is going to be seen in a lot of different contexts. It should be legible no matter how large or small it is, whether it’s on a tiny business card or a gigantic billboard.
Don’t make the mistake of MegaFlicks, which ended up offending hundreds of people and drove customers to think twice before entering the store simply because it chose the wrong font.
Rule 4: Use no more than 2 fonts in your logo.
When it comes to well-designed logos, simplicity is key. Don’t go crazy and try to incorporate lots of fonts into your logo. Keep it to 2 fonts, maximum, and make sure that you choose fonts that compliment or contrast each other.
Now that you know the rules, here are some guidelines when it comes to choosing fonts for your logo.
Types of fonts
There are a number of different font characteristics, and it can be helpful to know what they are when you are looking for a font for your logo.
Serif fonts have little feet or wings coming out from the letters. They’ve been around a long time and lend a classic, traditional feel to your logo.
Sans serif fonts
Sans serif fonts don’t have serifs. They look more modern and geometrical. When you use a sans serif font in your logo, it takes on a more contemporary feel.
Script fonts are elegant and may look like calligraphy. They convey feelings of warmth and connection. Beware: Script fonts are often harder to read than other fonts. If you choose a script font for your logo, make sure you can read it whether it’s huge or tiny.
Petit Formal Script
Some handwritten fonts are script fonts, while others are sans serif. Handwritten fonts can feel casual, whimsical, childish, or creative. They can also convey different emotions, depending on the font you choose. As with script fonts, be careful, as many handwritten fonts become difficult to read when they are displayed in a small size.
Shadows into Light
Display fonts are meant to stand out. They look dramatic and make a statement. Different display fonts convey different emotions, so you’ll have to look at them and decide for yourself which font works for your brand.
Guidelines for pairing fonts
If you want to use 2 different fonts in your logo — perhaps one for your business name and another for your tagline — it’s important to choose fonts that pair well together.
Choose fonts that strongly contrast each other or that are different weights from the same family.
When pairing fonts, it’s important to create a strong contrast to establish a font hierarchy. If you choose fonts that are only slightly different from each other, they won’t create a strong visual statement.
For example, you could choose a script font and a sans serif font for your logo, or a serif font and a sans serif font.
Alternatively, if you choose a font that has many different weights and styles available, you can pair a bold or black version of a font with a medium weight variation of the same font. Two versions of the same font with naturally look good together.
Resources for font pairing ideas:
The Ultimate Guide to Font Pairing
The Ultimate Collection of Google Font Pairings
Other things to keep in mind when choosing fonts for your logo
Be on the lookout for versatile fonts
Versatile fonts have many different variations, so you can download them in a lot of different weights and styles. Because of their versatility, you can use them for your logo now, and choose a different weight for your body copy of your website or marketing materials, creating a more cohesive brand.
Check out this post by Creative Bloq that showcases examples of versatile font families: 20 versatile font families to supercharge your typography.
Avoid overused fonts
Certain fonts have been used so often that they’re no longer a good choice for a distinctive logo. These include Helvetica, Arial, Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Times New Roman, among others. A good rule of thumb: If you keep seeing the same font again and again in logos, it probably won’t help your own logo stand out.
More reading on overused fonts:
10 Iconic Fonts and Why You Should Never Use Them
The Terrible 20 Fonts You Should Absolutely Avoid Using
Don’t Use These Fonts for your Brand Identity
Make sure your fonts have a license for commercial use
Before falling in love with a font, make sure it has a license for commercial use. For example, all Google Fonts are free for commercial use. Font Squirrel also states in its header that all fonts are free for commercial use.
If you find your logo elsewhere, make sure that the font license allows you to use the font for commercial use. Even if you purchase a font, that does not necessarily mean you can use it commercially, so be diligent and make sure you’re not crossing any legal lines.
Sites for choosing your fonts
There are a lot of sites out there that you can use to browse and choose fonts. Here are some of my favorites.
Narrowing down your fonts
Most of the sites I’ve listed above will allow you to try out the fonts using your own text. Write your business name into the textbox, take a screenshot, and save it using the name of the font.
Do this with 20-40 different fonts, and then import all of the screenshots into Illustrator together. Once you have a page of fonts with your name, choose 4 or 5 that you think convey the feeling of your brand to your target audience. From there, narrow it down further by kerning, or making the letters closer together or farther apart. Once you find the font you want to use, go ahead and purchase it for your logo.
To sum up…
I’ve just given you a lot of information, and choosing fonts can be overwhelming. So here are a few thoughts to bring it all together.
- Choose a font that fits your brand and that speaks to your target audience.
- Make sure your font looks good and is legible no matter what size it is.
- Stick with one or two fonts for your logo, and make sure they are a good pairing.
- Know a bit about the different font groupings and the emotions they convey.
- Choose a font that isn’t overused and that has a license for commercial use.
- Before you purchase a font, write your name in a number of different fonts, take screenshots, and then narrow them down.
I hope you enjoy finding the perfect font(s) for your logo. If you’re looking for a designer to create a logo for you, let’s talk. If you’re a seasoned designer, do you have any suggestions for choosing fonts? I would love to hear about them in the comments.