How to put your audience first when pairing fonts

When creating a brand, choosing the right font pairing is just as important as selecting the right color scheme or layout. Font pairings can either complement each other and create a cohesive design or clash and detract from the brand messaging.

Here are the basic design principles and considerations I use when pairing fonts for any specific brand.

Visual hierarchy

The key when picking out fonts and font pairs, like for any other design technique is to use typefaces well with purpose and in a way that will fit the content.

Visual hierarchy plays a crucial role in the visual language of a brand, helping to convey the most important information to the audience in a clear and concise manner. Visual hierarchy helps to create a sense of order and structure within any written communication such as website, social posts, and any marketing material, allowing the viewer to easily navigate through the content and understand the relationships between different elements.

To create an effective visual hierarchy using fonts and font pairs, these elements are important to keep in mind: size, color, contrast, spacing, and placement. For example, larger text will typically draw more attention than smaller one. Contrast can be used to create emphasis, while spacing can help to create separation between different elements and improve readability.

Consider the context and function

When selecting a font pair style, consider factors such as the overall mood of the brand, the industry or niche, and the target audience.

Taking into account the overall messaging and purpose of the brand and the emotions you want to evoke in the viewer before choosing a font pair. The font styles must align with the message you’re trying to convey and the target audience you’re trying to reach.

For example, a font pair that may work well for a children’s book cover may not be the best choice for a business proposal.

Set the mood

The choice of font styles can have a significant impact on the overall tone and mood of a brand’s visuals. The right font pairing can elevate the brand and make it visually appealing and captivating to the specific audience while picking the wrong pairings can have an adverse effect on the overall brand.

For example, the use of expensive fonts does not necessarily make a branding look luxurious or high-end. Instead, it’s essential to choose a font pair that communicate luxury and quality through their visual appearance. The selection of fonts is crucial in setting the tone of the design and creating the desired mood.

Readability: contrast and balance

Successful font pairing relies on contrast, but not conflict. Serifs and sans serifs can be combined to create a slick and modern, yet easily readable brand. This can help the entire user experience be more engaging. Your selected fonts can work well together by sharing certain qualities, or by being completely different.

When it comes to the perfect font pairing, I often refer to it as either a couple of different styles or siblings of similar styles. If you opt for two distinct styles, the goal is for them to appear as a harmonious couple, seamlessly complementing each other without competing for attention. Each font serves its function well without distracting from the other. On the other hand, if you choose two similar styles, such as two sans serifs, one for display and one for body copy, you aim for them to look like siblings. The fonts shouldn’t be so dissimilar that they become a distraction, but rather resemble each other as members of the same font family, even if not identical.

Just keep in mind that we need to make sure to follow the same pattern throughout the brand in order to avoid confusion for the audience. As you’re building your font pairing knowledge, draw inspiration from font pairing guides, like my Typography Inspiration guide where you can find a collection of 30 expertly paired free Google fonts.

Usability and versatility

When it comes to selecting fonts for your brand, practicality is key. It’s essential to choose a font pair that not only speaks to your aesthetic taste but also suits the implementation requirements. If you stumble upon a font that you adore, but it lacks the necessary weights or styles to support your project’s needs, it’s best to let it go and find something that will be more usable.

As you peruse various fonts, it’s crucial to consider their versatility. Is the font solely intended for use as a display font, or does it offer a text weight that’s suitable for body copy? How does the font perform at various sizes, both large and small? Will it remain legible as it gets smaller, or will it become too difficult to read? When enlarged, does the font still convey the intended message effectively?

To help with the selection process, it’s advisable to create a list of all the places the fonts will be used. This list can help you formulate essential questions to ask when searching for the perfect font match. Keeping these practical considerations in mind will ultimately help you choose a font pair that not only looks good but also serves its intended purpose well.

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