There may not be much to a name, a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but the font you use for your rose had better be right on the money or your audience will think it stinks. Sorry, we kind of butchered Shakespeare there, but it did help us make our point. Font psychology is a real thing and you need to put it to work in your font design or your audience is going hate it and not know why.
At its core, font psychology is the study of how using typography can actually affect memories, thoughts, emotions, and yes – behaviours. Throughout history (well, more since the time of the printing press) people have attached a variety of feelings to different fonts.
We could get into semiotics here, but instead of boring you to death, we’ll easily illustrate our point with one word: Papyrus. Did your eyes nearly roll out of your head and then your brain instantly flash to junior high or high school projects? If it didn’t, you probably didn’t go to school in the late 90s early 00s, suffice it to say, papyrus sucks and everyone mocks it.
Hopefully, when you are developing a design, especially a logo, you have a clear end-goal in mind. You want to elicit a certain feeling, reaction, or behaviour in your audience and your font is going to get you 60% of the way there.
There are hundreds of thousands of fonts you can choose from and since we don’t have years to break down most of them, let’s just stick to the psychology behind the three major groups or the four S’s as we like to call them: Serif, Sans Serif, and Script.
If serif fonts were a person, they would be your older, conservative uncle. You know, the one who focused really hard on work, likely never married or had kids, and would always vote conservative because he’s always just voted conservative. It’s the most professional and upstanding of the font groups.
Words that are associated with serifs include: trusted, respectful, formal, authoritative, professional, and stern.
These words aren’t necessarily fun, but in business, they definitely have a place. If you’re designing a logo for a law firm, bank, oil and gas, insurance, financial institution, or anything along those lines, this is the font family for you.
If sans serif’s fonts were a person, they would be your hipster older cousin. They’re married, have a cool young family and like to travel to cool places. They’re the ones ballsy enough to take their young kids on long flights because they gave the people around them relaxation gift bags.
Words that are often associated with sans serif: modern, sophisticated, trust worth, innovative, technology-focused, and cool.
Sans serifs are for your entrepreneurs, IT firms, tech startups, and businesses that want to be seen as less traditional.
If script fonts were a person, they would be your best friend’s carefree mom. You know, the mom you secretly kinda wish was yours? She’s fun, carefree, and probably an artist. She definitely wears dark-rimmed glasses that she may or may not need but definitely pulls off.
Words that are often associated with script: creative, happy, personal, carefree, fancy, elegant, with a touch of whimsy.
The script font family can be both whimsical and elegant at the same time but they can also be one or the other. Restaurants, fashion designers, farmers’ market vendors, kids brands, and a ton of “outlier” type businesses were made for Script.
Stressed about which font to use where? Don’t quite have a handle on font psychology yet? Give us a ring and we’ll get you sorted!