Many brands the world over are remembered because of their visual identity. They were not built on simple simple visual elements, of course. However, these elements play an important role in how they are perceived. The look of the brand as it is represented by such visuals is a unique mark that becomes ingrained in the minds of the market.
Fonts and colors play a bigger role than you might have expected in forming your brand’s visual identity. They are two of the four major elements that will make up your visual identity, whether you mean them to or not. Expertly wielding these elements can help you to craft an intentionally meaningful and impactful visual identity for your brand.
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type. Apart from being legible, the main component of typography is appeal. Fonts are specifically designed so that they are attractive to look at.
Here are a few examples of font types and how they can change how your audience feels about your message:
Serif Fonts – these fonts are the ones that have little lines over the tops and bottoms of the letters. The general feel of this font is more formal, like the Times New Roman font – a newspaper style font meant to convey stature, seriousness and confidence. Serifs are also known to aid the flow of reading on paper.
Sans Serif Fonts – these fonts are the ones “sans” – or without – those little lines. The general feel of this font is more casual, like the popular Arial font. Sans serifs have been found, in contrast to serifs, to aid the flow of reading on computer screens versus in print.
Script and Decorative Fonts – these fonts are more creative and can be used to add style and emphasis to your text. Scripts are cursive writing adaptations that have an elegant feel, showing affluence and also giving the feeling of gentleness and warmth. They can also be perceived as more personal since they resemble handwriting. Decoratives are custom fonts, some of which have been created for specific brands for use on logos, headers and the like.
There are a few sites where you can check out some fonts in action and test out how they work for your brand.
Color can be used in a purposeful way to encourage emotional and psychological reactions in those who see them. There are so many colors, but knowing the associated meanings of even just your basic palette can be useful. If you can succeed in owning a color, your brand is already way ahead.
A person’s cultural background can affect they way that they perceive different colors, so take note of this when doing your research. Personal preference is also a factor that can alter the general mood brought on by certain colors. Individual tendencies cannot be anticipated, however, and won’t have a significant effect on your results.
Here are some examples of what colors mean in general and how they can impact your audience:
Red is the color that represents energy, passion, and ambition. It denotes determination and action.
Orange is an optimistic color that represents social communication. It can denote pessimism and superficiality, however, which can be offset by the font style and verbal message.
Yellow is both traditionally the color of friendship and also one that represents intelligence. It denotes optimism and cheerfulness. Considering cultural tradition, it can mean cowardice to some, so be sure to negate this in the other elements that you choose.
Green has always represented balance and growth. It also denotes self-reliance, and in some cultures, good fortune.
Blue is probably the most popular choice of brand color because it represents trust, integrity and loyalty. It also denotes peace and is a conservative choice.
Purple is the traditional color of royalty, though nowadays is represents imagination and creativity. It denotes a less formal approach but can infer impracticality if not used wisely.
Magenta represents harmony and emotional balance. It denotes both spirituality and common sense.
Brown represents security and protection. It is a down-to-earth color that also denotes comfort and wealth.
Gray represents compromise, or being detached and indecisive. It can also denote transition, however. Being unemotional it can be used as a highlight color.
Black represents the unknown, what is hidden and secret. It denotes mystery.
Using Fonts and Colors for Your Visual Identity
Selecting your fonts and colors is a decision that should be primarily based on their meanings. You are not likely to have just one of each, however. Any design requires at least a secondary dimension to create depth. You will usually use just one font for your logo, but all of your written communications need a secondary typeface. When choosing the secondary font and color for your brand, you have to go further than just the meanings and moods that they represent.
Design demands that any elements that you use in combination be compatible. This doesn’t mean that you always have to blend rather than contrast. You just have to make sure that it all looks good together in the end. The symmetry and synergy of your design elements extends even further than just your fonts and colors. The layout of your stationery, web pages, and ads, the character of any associated imagery that you use, and much more must align with the impact that your visual identity is meant to create.
Finally, remember that consistency is key when using your composed typeface combo and palette. Make sure that you are free to use the same in every piece of branded material. And make sure that they are consistently applied across media and channels.