If you want to pick a font that causes an emotional connection between your design and your audience, you need to be aware of the psychology of fonts. Even if you don’t know or care about this concept, it’s already at work around you, influencing your purchases, preferences, and brand loyalties.
When we first evaluate a font, we come up with what we think it means and compare that meaning to the overall context. In other words, we evaluate the appropriateness of a font.
If a font is appropriate for a given context, this generates a positive response in the reader. Often times, a reader might not even understand why a certain font doesn’t appeal to them. It just doesn’t ‘feel right’.
However, if we can better understand what subconscious messages our fonts are sending to our viewers, we can create content that does a better job of getting our message across.
Break it Down
Most typefaces can be put into 1 of six categories. Let’s break down the personality that each of these groups carries with it.
Personality: Traditional, reliable, respectable
Examples: Times New Roman, Georgia, Garamond, Baskerville
Personality: Simple, clean, stable,
Examples: Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Calibri
Personality: Bold, solid, strong,
Examples: Courier, Clarendon, Rockwell, Museo
Personality: Intelligent, stylish, sharp
Examples: Bodoni, Raleway, Brandon Grotesque
Personality: Feminine, elegant, personal
Examples: Pacifico, Brush Script, Lobster
Personality: Fun, unconventional, casual
Popular examples: Monoton, Megrim, Luckiest Guy
With these in mind, you can choose a font that best fits what you’re trying to convey and avoid any hidden associations that would prevent your message from being effective.
Take a look at the image below and see how many of the following brands you can recognize
by just their first letter!
Over time, your brain has made associations between certain fonts and certain brands that get stronger each time you see them. Take advantage of this knowledge with your own branding and be consistent in your font choices so that people can form mental associations with your content.
Also, remember that familiar fonts build trust! This is why so many logos are based on the basics. If you pick something too extreme that your audience has no frame of reference for, you risk distancing them from your product.
Taste, Smell, Touch, and Hear the Font
It might sound weird, but fonts can affect more than just a reader’s sight.
Keep your audience’s senses in mind when choosing fonts. If you’re advertising for a hip-hop concert, using an elegant script would fail to consider the reader’s context for sound and leave them confused and disinterested.
Ultimately, each situation is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for choosing the ‘right’ font. The important thing is to be aware of the effect that fonts have on readers and choose accordingly.