5 types of font and what to use them for

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How to pick the right typeface for your next logo design.

Picking the right font can be crucial for the success of a design project, whether it’s a tagline on a poster or an expanse of long-form copy for a piece of editorial design. Type shapes personality, determines legibility, and achieves impact.

When you need to pick the right typeface for a brand, the importance of type is magnified as a few characters need to convey the values and personality of a brand, as well as helping to achieve standout from the competition.

So how do you make that all-important choice? There are many factors involved, from the emotional features you need, to the types of application, to the technical, linguistic and logistic requirements.

One key step is choosing what class of typeface you need, so read on for our guide to how five distinctive varieties can have an impact on a brand…

01. Traditional serif

North’s rebrand of Southbank Centre uses a distinctive serif that bridges the gap between authoritative and edgy

There’s a good reason that serif fonts exude gravitas and class: they have their origins in the inscriptions that were chiselled into stone in Ancient Rome. Used appropriately they can make a brand feel from cultured, sophisticated, and authoritative – and are often used in fashion, academic and culture sectors.

North’s rebrand of Southbank Centre is bold and confident, designed to act as an all-encompassing ‘masthead’ brand for the organisation. The previous condensed sans-serif marque was replaced with a modified version of Noe Display. Modern and high-contrast, its sharp, blocky serifs echo the brutalist architecture of the building. It feels authoritative and sophisticated, but still forward-thinking and edgy.

Superunion went for a classic serif when five well-established (mostly sans-serif) agency brands were combined

The two brands we’re looking at here use serifs in very different ways. Second, we have one of the most closely-watched agency rebrands of recent years: when WPP merged The Partners, Brand Union, Lambie-Nairn, Addison and VBAT into a 750-strong mega-agency, everyone was curious to see how the new branding behemoth was to be positioned.

The answer was ‘Superunion’, and the font choice was a crisp, traditional serif – with a playful half-ligature between the ‘u’ and the ‘n’ adding character. Given that most of the constituent companies sported sans-serif marques beforehand, the choice clearly marks Superunion as a new entity, but also feels confident, established and timeless, emphasising the team’s considerable combined experience rather than wiping the slate clean and choosing something more contemporary.

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