About three weeks ago, I was asked to blog about fonts and the impact they can make on your company’s brand communications. If you’re looking for valuable branding advice that will help you improve your company’s look and feel, I suggest you look elsewhere. Maybe here. Or put your brain on hold and watch this instead.

The fact is, if you’re not one of our clients, I’m simply not familiar enough with your brand to give you good counsel about fonts. And I certainly can’t tell you in a blog which font will help you improve your marketing. Speaking in generalities, the only thing I can say for sure is that fonts matter. They make impressions on your audience, which is why serious documents like the IRS 1040 will never appear in Curlz, and the Holy Bible should never be printed in Comic Sans.

Photo by See-ming Lee, CC-BY-2.0
Photo by See-ming Lee, CC-BY-2.0

Beyond that, without knowing your specific brand strategy, I’m not in a position to give you advice about typefaces any more than I can advise you about photos, colors, layouts, copy, voiceover, background music or the model for your next print ad photoshoot. All of these things, fonts included, are part and parcel of what creates an impression about your brand. And even deciding something as “small” as a font should be treated as the important choice that it is. This decision should be made by a skilled design team that knows your brand backwards and forwards. So unless you’re an M/C/C client, I’m not your guy.

There was a time when art directors and graphic artists always used serif fonts (the kind with the little feet on letters like I and T) for traditional brands and sans serif (without feet) for modern or high-tech brands. These practices are obsolete, and any designer that still paints a client with such a broad brush is either mindlessly following an old playbook or is just too lazy to do the work to find the perfect font. There are too many fonts available to say that serif fonts are always X or sans serif fonts are always Y. By the same token, a sophisticated, well-crafted brand should not fit into such an oversimplified mold. Plenty of companies have built brands that are unique in their industries by bucking these tired, old rules.

One other thing…forget you ever heard the term “Web-safe font.” Once upon a time, text in websites was limited to what was known as Web-safe fonts, a few basic typefaces that could be viewed by any user on any Web browser. But thanks to Google open source fonts and subscription services such as TypeKit, designers now have all the flexibility in the World Wide Web to suit a client’s brand.

Countless new fonts are a dime a dozen these days. They’re out there on the Web just waiting for download. There’s a perfect one out there for every brand and for every medium. And that’s without even considering hand-drawn typefaces. Yep, there’s a design movement that’s rediscovering hand-drawn letters, and it’s made a huge comeback as the retro-chic ying to the world’s overly digitized yang.

My point is simple. Choosing the right font to represent your brand can be as important as any branding decision you’ll make. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not by you and definitely not by me. Unless you want your brand going to Helvetica in a handbasket.

Previously published on The M/C/C Minute at www.mccom.com/blog.