The Way of the Font

Remember that scene in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith where John (played by Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) toasted with the words “To dodging bullets”? That has been their philosophy – their life direction – in their rather funny and deceitful (you never know that those two words work, right?) married life. Dodging bullets, avoiding mistakes, and jumping over obstacles are normalcy, and this can be applied not only to our lives but also in our work and in relationships with our colleagues. For example, human resource managers ‘dodge bullets’ by making background checks a part of their routine, while managers and operations officers set quality assurance measures to maintain the supposed quality of work. For us designers, we are faced with multiple choices; variations of bullets that can be for caliber .45s or even for Beretta 1918s…

 

Just kidding.

 

We, creatives, are faced with various obstacles, that even the slightest error in choice might cause us to stumble and even lose credibility to the point of breaking relationships with our clients. From color choices to sizes, images, and tone, we consider everything down to the last detail, and it starts from the fundamental: the font that we use. Usually, our parameters for font choices lie on what would actually ‘work’, and there is no real set-up as to what is beautiful and what is fitting. We tend to stick with our design perspective and use fonts that are well – technically ‘us’, or a reflection of our design persona. But hey, it’s not all about us, is it? So here’s a short round-up as to how to dodge the mammoth error of choosing fonts.

 

  1. Take the client’s persona and use it as a mold. Most of the time, our clients have a vision and have their own way as to how their content would look like when published (print or online), and that may be used as a cue when choosing fonts.
  2. Ask for previous content, if available and applicable. Maybe they’d want to carry-over their previous branding on their new project, or at least have a tinge of it (if they are opting for a total revamp), so make sure to ask for available materials that may be used as reference/s. These items will also give you a clue as to which font to use (if they are opting for a huge face lift on branding) – as you’d see their previous preferences.
  3. Ask if you are allowed to experiment or come up with original font styles. This is most applicable for business clients who are just starting to build their rep. You may suggest to creating a unique font for them, which they may use for all their materials. This will also ease your job in choosing a fitting font, although this is additional work. But hey, look into the bright side! An originally designed font means easier tasks in the future – so don’t whine.
  4. Suggest. When meeting with prospective clients, always suggest (carefully!) on what you think would work. Design drafts and show it to the clients, especially when working on the logo and the actual look and style of the project or the strategy. Always take a feel of the air first though, before starting on suggesting, as you wouldn’t want to annoy a client with your suggestions.
  5. Stick to the basics. The basic rule in choosing fonts is to have a feel of the content that the client would be using, or what the client’s business is. Make sure to know the background, or at least the target market of the client. If the client is asking for a website that will be used for B2B transactions, choose fonts that are on the formal side. If the client is on the news and information business, choose fonts that are clean and clear to the eye. If the client is a fashionista that is putting out a blog about her #OOTDs, then choose a simple font that is not too overpowering of her content.

 

The general idea is to come up or use a font that will fit the standards and the requirements of the client, with tinges of creativity and thought in it to make it memorable (recalls are important!). It is important to know too, that this small white elephant may make or break a presentation, a design, and everything else in between, so make sure to know what you are doing before clicking that drop-down list.


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