We often talk about the corporate image and how it should be applied consistently and uniformly across all marketing channels used by your business.
Among the elements that make up the identity of a brand are the fonts. Knowing how to use them correctly is critical to creating and maintaining your corporate identity.
Using fonts doesn’t only mean choosing the best option for your brand and knowing how to apply it to each element (logo, the text of the website, paper correspondence, etc.). It is much more! You need to know what works best in each environment and what are its limitations.
“Knowing how to select the appropriate fonts is very important regarding readability and representativeness, especially in the online world, where creativity plays such a vital role.”
Typographic characters are one of the hallmarks of trademarks, of course, but abuse of creativity in this aspect and forgetting to think about readability can affect the user experience, and therefore the online navigation.
In many cases, if the font which was chosen is not the best choice for the media used, the message may be confusing or unreadable, losing its effectiveness, leaving a bad impression for the user (later I will talk about a real case about email marketing).
Think about it. It doesn’t matter how creative and different is the style of your brand, when reading texts using digital channels, it is necessary that the message is legible, the background is not intrusive, and the font size is appropriate.
So in this post, I want to talk about issues related to the proper use of fonts.
How does the use of fonts in the online world work and what influence does it have on users’ perceptions?
Some say that proper use of fonts is an art of articulating a brand (or brand articulation) Each font can convey different concepts, but knowing how to use them in different channels will impact the outcome of the company’s marketing actions.
A priori, it seems trivial to devote time to this aspect, which may seem so small in the development of a corporate identity. However, this element is what will encourage users to keep reading your content, so: It’s super important!
Knowing all the fonts that exist and their meanings are impossible (also, new fonts are created very often), but you can learn to distinguish the classifications that exist and their general characteristics:
- Serif: these are fonts with ornaments. They have a great influence in the old handmade calligraphy, and it appeared with the creation of the press. They may have more or fewer ornaments, depending on when it was created, but are always characterized by complicated and elaborate features.
- Sans Serif: Created with the industrial revolution, they are much simpler than the previous ones. They don’t have “serifs”, that is, changes in their extremities. The most common example is the Arial font. They are the most used in online channels, thanks to its high readability in different types of screens.
- Manuscript: This type of font, also known as script, is the closest thing to handwriting. They are letters of cursive type and medium readability. Typically, they are more commonly used for header text or headings than for the body of a text.
- Display: They are the fonts that convey more emotional charge. They represent eras, cultural movements, feelings, even personality traits of its designers. Some are designed for specific purposes, such as the one created for Star Wars, which quickly became associated with this brand.
In addition to the font type chosen, other visual elements are part of the layout of a text and will influence how it represents the brand. Let’s see them in the next section.
► Differentiating elements that personalize your brand
When creating online content, you need to plan the message, but also the design. And the design doesn’t just refer to the colors or images used; you also have to work on the layout of the newsletter.
“Applying differentials in text layout helps differentiate a brand from other companies.”
Let’s see what items you should consider and how they affect the message you want to convey:
Shapes: Different fonts can be more rounded, oblong, square, etc. These forms can evoke different feelings. For example, serif fonts with very rounded letters tend to remember historical periods, and the more square ones are usually related to the 80s and the new technologies of the time.
Combinations: When creating templates, you can use different fonts in the same message. More elaborate fonts can be used for featured titles or messages, and other simpler ones for the body of the newsletter. Thus, the layout will be more organized and visually appealing.
Contrasts: As in the previous point, if you are to combine different fonts, they should contrast to make it clear that it was not an error caused by the similarity between the two fonts. What is not advisable, is to apply more than two fonts to the same medium.
Size: Depending on the type of text, the appropriate size will vary. In the digital environment, it is not recommended to use less than 10 or 12 depending on the channel, because readability can be affected. From this size, you can use larger letters for some individual cases, titles, etc., but always thinking that the text will be read on a screen and you can’t abuse of long texts, since reading will not be comfortable.
Formatting: The format will vary according to the type of text being written. The important thing is to maintain a consistent style, both in online and offline channels.
Spacing: The minimum spacing is about 1.15. Less than that causes the letters to blend (it will be much harder to distinguish lines) and the text will probably be almost illegible.
Bold: Used to highlight texts or important messages. Sometimes in online texts, it is advisable to use this option instead of mixing different fonts. This will depend on the size of the texts and the message you want to convey.
Capitalization: In addition to proper use of orthographic rules, capitalization can change the meaning of a text when creating content online. It should be observed that the use of capital letters in digital channels is understood as a shout or exaltation so that it should not be used senselessly.
The correct use of these items facilitates the understanding of the message, creating readable texts that bring added value to the brand and its online reputation.
► Readability errors on the internet
It is quite common to confuse readability concepts online and offline. We should always remember that it is not the same thing to read a newspaper, a letter or banner than reading a text on a screen.
Also, new content must be adapted for computers, tablets or mobile. Therefore, you should create responsive texts that can be read on small screens.
Many users end up making one of these mistakes:
Different sizes: When creating the content, it is essential to write texts of various sizes. Not just visually, but using features like H1, H2, H3. Using this option, the texts will be increased proportionally for each type of screen.
Low Contrast: Sometimes, to use the colors of a visual identity, companies write texts with colors which are very difficult for reading. The problem is that there is no contrast between these colors.
To facilitate reading, it is necessary to use letters that contrast with the background (if possible, black or dark colors with a white background or with very light colors).
Incorrect size selection: When choosing a font size, you can do so by using relative size (which occupy a corresponding space within the entire design) or absolute size (Which is measured in pixels). In online media, it is more appropriate to use relative sizes to serve different devices.
Note that it is not the same thing to read text on your computer screen as it is on a cell phone.
Long paragraphs: Another of the most common mistakes is writing thinking about offline reading and creating very long paragraphs. It’s harder to read them online because large paragraphs can make reading tiring. It is important to add “breaks” between the paragraphs. To do this, you must use whitespace that makes the reading more comfortable.
Very long lines: As in the previous point, the lines should not be too long. When the lines are very long, it’s hard to understand the text. Also, on larger screens, the user will need to be always turning his head from side to side, so many users will not read the entire text.
Excess of links: This error is not related to creating texts in offline layouts, but is typical in digital environments. Sometimes we try to include as many sources as possible in a paragraph, that we end up adding a significant amount of links. This makes it very difficult to read and irritates online browsing because when scrolling through the text, it would be easy to click on a link by mistake.
Fonts in Email Marketing: Uses and Limitations
Once you understand the parameters that should be followed on different channels, you need to start thinking about the design of your campaigns.
“Not all online channels work the same way when designing and sharing content.”
For example, in social networks, there are no layout options, besides the use of different paragraphs. However, when creating newsletters, there are many options, but many limitations should be considered.
When creating an email, you can include bold letters, different font sizes, underlining, and even some unique character types. However, the use of different font types is very limited.
José Argudo helped me to research this aspect and how the fonts are loaded and displayed in different email clients.
According to the latest updates of these software, the ones that display almost any type of font are:
- AOL Mail
- Android native email app (not Gmail)
- Apple Mail
- IOS Mail
- Outlook 2000
- Outlook Mobile Application
For this reason, when it comes to email marketing it is most advisable to use the fonts available on any computer or mobile device, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Calibri, Cambria, etc.
On the other hand, after selecting the font, the color used should also be considered.
For example, I use a type of gray on my blog that can be read easily on a website. However, many of my subscribers contacted me to tell me that it is not possible to read the texts of my emails in mobile devices when written with this font.
Finding a font and layout that is readable across all online channels can be difficult. So I always recommend testing before posting new content.
Don’t forget that users will read your content using different devices, browsers, or applications. Therefore, you should create messages that are legible in all possible options.
What kind of fonts do you usually use in your digital content? Do you prefer to make combinations or always work with the same font?