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Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Lesson 6 of 9

Selecting Typefaces For Your Brand

Danielle McWaters

Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Danielle McWaters

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Lesson Info

6. Selecting Typefaces For Your Brand

Lesson Info

Selecting Typefaces For Your Brand

Type is really important, guys. And it's an incredibly powerful tool when you use it well, okay? So you know, when used effectively, type really you know commands attention and it can evoke emotion or a reaction, and it also creates a sense of voice, right? So, you know, yeah. Just think about different typefaces that you see in publications or in you know advertisements or in billboards. You know they all, again, kind of align back to these essences, right? So I know that, for us, you know, our, you know for type, I really wanna focus on our clean essence, right? so our type is probably going to be something just very simple, very legible, and something that isn't going to distract my consumer or my audience from my content or any of my visuals, okay? So, when you're considering typefaces for your brand, consider the environment, right, that you're gonna actually be using them. Where are they gonna appear? So if you are strictly, again if you're the photographer or painter and you onl...

y have a website and some business cards, okay, so consider how you want those essences to be translated on your website or your business card. Or you know in our case, there's this packaging element for us, you know for this SLOW Candle Company, so I need to make sure that not only are my typefaces eye catching, but they're also really delivering the content, the message that I need my consumer to get quickly, okay? So, again start to search for various typefaces and look for legibility, look for unique qualities, there's so many amazing typefaces out there for displays that have serifs or sans serif or slab, or there's so many out there that can really actually evoke a lot of emotion without you having to do a lot. And also think about the range in terms of weights and widths, so when we're talking about weights, we're actually talking about kind of you know what you're used to seeing as maybe bold, italic, light, so when you have multiple weights of something, or of a typeface, that essentially allows you to create hierarchy, visual hierarchy, and contrast really easily, right? So you have a typeface with all these different you know like light, medium, bold, black, so I could use all of those to really create all of my layouts or my website and because I have all of those weights, I can create some sense of hierarchy in terms of what information is the most important, as well as contrast. So that the type is actually engaging and you wanna read it as opposed to like there's nothing done or interesting about this, so I'm not even gonna read it, right? So, type can really be effective to make sure that people are reading the information that you've probably spent a lot of time thinking about and writing. So, questions to consider when you're choosing your typefaces, right? So again, it's like how are you gonna be using this type? This goes back to really like what your business is, right? So you know, again, what typeface is this medical company is gonna be using verses our candle company are probably gonna be very different because we're in very different industries and what the purpose of what information we're sharing is very different, right? Is it functional? Or is it decorative? Or are you creating a branding system that needs to last with you a really long time? So this functional is kinda the typical branding elements that you're used to seeing, so your website, whether it's packaging, whether it's your marketing collateral, your business cards. But then there's decorative, right? There's an opportunity, so say it's your business and you're having a company party, and you're like, "okay, great, this is something where it's actually appropriate for me to use something that's a little bit more decorative or fun or that feels more kind of in line with the mood that we're going for for this event." Or maybe it's a poster, right? It's like an opportunity to just again be a little bit more creative or playful to showcase the message that you wanna communicate. And again, so particularly when it comes to branding systems though, you have to think about long-term, right? There's a lot of trends in type right now where there's a lot of calligraphy and there's a lot of hand-lettering and there's a lot of displays, and those are great, those are really, really, great, but just make sure that it aligns with your essences. Because if it does, then it should be able to last with you. But if you're doing it just because you think it looks pretty, think twice, okay? Like, go back to the board and say, "Does this align?" Because your typefaces that you use for your identity they have to work on a array of mediums, and again they have to align with your essences and they have to continue to grow with you. You don't want to be sick of it after a year, okay? And I see that happen a lot. And again, knowing who your audience is, right? So, say my audience is, I'm doing a clothing company here in San Francisco, and my demographic is 25 to and they're pretty hip, but the overall design is kind of clean or maybe it has a little bit of a masculine tone, you know the typefaces that I'm gonna select for that is gonna be very different for a news publication, where my demographic is, I don't know, somewhere between 45 and 65, right? So that goes into size, it goes into legibility. So again, just understanding who your audience is and how they're gonna be engaging with your content should be a consideration for you when you're selecting your typefaces. So, a resource that's in the resource guide is this website called Fonts in Use, and it's fabulous, and basically what it gives you is different actual real-life examples of how typefaces are being paired. So I think that's probably one of the biggest struggles for people when they're selecting typefaces for their company, is you're like, "okay well I have like maybe three or four that I'm really, really loving, but somehow they're not really like meshing together, they don't work, they're not creating the sense of harmony that I'm really looking for." So I use them a lot to see if I know, I really like the typeface Gotham, I can go to Fonts in Use and type in Gotham and it will show me different pairings that Gotham is used with. So, I really, really recommend that one in terms of if you're struggling with creating a contrast with your typefaces, go to Fonts in Use. So, I wanna bring this back, I wanna bring the idea of type and typography, back to our case study, okay? So here we are with SLOW Candle Co. and here is our logo for SLOW Candle Co., okay? So again, I am thinking about my clean brand essence, right? So I want my type to be very clean. And so I chose this typeface here, Aqueline, and it's basically a condensed, geometric, typeface that's pretty simple and it's functional, right? And another thing that I wanna call out about this is I like that it's condensed, I like that this word SLOW kind of acts as like a shape, but I also really like the x-height, I like how tall it is, 'cause it reminds me of like a flame rising up, right? And I like the way that it's almost like if I say the word slow, it like makes me wanna go up, okay? So, again, type can evoke an emotion for you. So it can be not only legible, but you're thinking about what kind of emotion do you think my customer, audience, is going to have to it? So, for our primary and secondary typeface, we're using Gotham, so this is what I'm talking about in terms of weights, right? So if you notice, I have Gotham Book, Medium, that should say bold sorry, and Bold, so basically that means I have all these different weights available to me that I can say like "okay, maybe all of my paragraph or body copy is gonna be in Book and all my headlines are gonna be in Bold, but it's gonna look really consistent with some contrast because I'm using the same typeface." And then I use the secondary typeface, that's a serif, so if you notice the first one is a sans serif it just doesn't have the little feet, and I picked a complimentary serif typeface that I'm using as my secondary typeface with my brand. So again, it also has multiple weights, I have a Book, and a Regular, and a Bold, and so essentially, I can use this to create layouts in terms of packaging and marketing materials, website, whatever, but these are the typefaces that I've selected for my brand. Another key thing that I wanna call out is do not use your logo typeface for anything else on your brand. No, no, common mistake. Your logo typeface should only be for your logo. That helps it be distinguished, it says "nope, this is my logo, it's not competing with anything else that's in that same typeface." You wanna make sure that it stands alone. You don't wanna confuse your consumer if you're like, oh if you're using the same typeface and somehow you put another word in the same typeface at the same size, you know people are like, "Wait, I thought that was your logo and maybe it's not your logo anymore. Did you change your name?" You don't want to cause any confusion. So whatever your logo typeface is, don't use it anywhere else, okay? So I wanna give you some applications for this now. So if we go to our SLOW Candle Co., right? So here we're seeing our logo and I put Candle Co. underneath it 'cause I really want people to focus on SLOW, right? That's like the thing that I want people to feel when they see our logo. And then for kind of our tagline or anything, or maybe a hashtag, I used our secondary typeface here to share basically the essential oil aromatherapy candles. So again, I'm basically creating hierarchy, right? So what's the first thing you notice when you see this? Right, it's the logo, so you're like automatically you're like, "Oh this is a company and it's called SLOW." Then underneath it, we see a candle company, so it's telling me actually what it does, right? Because our image isn't necessarily telling us what it is, we're using an image here that's more lifestyle driven than anything else. So we're saying, "okay SLOW is the focus, that's our first thing that we want our consumer to notice, second is that it's a candle company, and third is that it's a candle company that's actually creating candles using essential oils and aromatherapy." Right? And then, because we live in a social media age, I did put a hashtag there which is slowdown, right? So it's again reinforcing this slow living movement and hopefully gonna create some sort of buzz and community around slowing down. So any questions on that? Do you guys kinda see how this hierarchy is working for this brand? A question that came in online, this was posted by Smurfy is the viewer watching right now, so Smurfy's question is, "Is there a way for you to tell what font type or typeface certain brands use, for example like I like the font that Starbucks or Nike or Adidas uses in their packaging, how do I found out like what that is?" Is there a resource for people, if they know that they like a certain typeface, how do they find out what it is? Sure, well you're going after some big companies that probably have a lot of intellectual property laws protecting them. Maybe those are bad examples, yeah. But yeah again, Fonts in Use is really good one. Honestly, if you Google it, there's a lot of information out there and a lot of brands are pretty transparent about it, so you probably can find out if you do a little research. The other thing that I would recommend is thinking about a little more about what you like specifically about that typeface. Is it because it's a serif? Is it because it's a sans serif? Do you like the weight of it? What are the things that you're particularly drawn to? And then, start doing some research on families of type, or foundries that are creating typefaces that are kind of aligned with these characteristics that you're going for. And kind of on that note as well, you know that's something to really consider when you're selecting your typefaces too, is do a little bit of research on who designed them and why they designed them and what their inspiration was, 'cause sometimes you find that that actually aligns with some of your essences or is creating the emotion that you're actually going for, so yeah I would say just continue to research, use things like Fonts in Use, you can use Designspiration and then you can go to like My Fonts or Creative Market and just start to really research and see kind of the options that you have out there. Yeah and you know our chatroom is always great at giving suggestions. Vixter says there's an app called What the Font Oh yeah, What the Font. That is also something that works really well. Yep. Exactly. But I would say on that note, again it goes back to being authentic, right? It's great to know what you like, but it's really important to remember how you wanna be distinguished and how you wanna be different. So you can have similar characteristics, but I would say try to avoid using typefaces that your competition is using. Great, any other questions from our studio audience? Yeah. Up to how many typefaces can we choose? 'Cause you said that we cannot reuse the one that we are using for the logo, so I was thinking about the hierarchy that we want in our website, for example, I wouldn't be able, because we just have, you chose two and we just have one left. Sure, so I would say, somewhere between three to five. Three is normally my sweet spot. I like to have a typeface for my logo, and then I like to have a primary and a secondary typeface, and again I choose only two because I don't want people to get lost trying to understand what's happening with my type and focus on actually reading and digesting the content. And so, typically I choose two typefaces and both have multiple weights, so that way, again, I have this element of consistency, but I can still kind of create dynamic layouts with contrast and hierarchy, so yeah. I would say, and again, it's kind of hard, it depends, like for your identity system, that's what I would say. You know when you're getting into a product or service, again kind of go back to your essences, you know if you're somebody who is, maybe you're an artist and you know the stuff that you're creating is like really, everything's really different, and nothing's the same, and everything's unique, you know, that's something that you can actually play off of and maybe you do have 10 typefaces that you kind of play around with to make your posters or your advertisements or your business cards. So I would say just think about whatever your business is and what you think feels appropriate based on your essences. Okay, so this here, to me this is kind of like, maybe I would use this as like a mailer, or a postcard or something that I want to send out to you know potential customers. So I wanna show you another application which would be packaging. So, again, we're taking this really clean type, this really clean essences, and I'm trying to translate that into packaging. So I kept it pretty simple, right? So I just took the logo and I wanted to just put it at the top and have it actually still be the thing that I have my customer go to first, right? Because I'm a new company and I want people to think of SLOW and also think about the slow movement, I want it to be like a trigger word for people, okay? And then, underneath, so then maybe I have a naming system for all of my candles, all of my aromatherapy candles have, you know this one here is balance, but maybe I have relaxing or detoxifying or rejuvenating, right? So I have some sort of naming system of each one of my candles that I'm gonna create. And then underneath that, I've used my secondary typeface to actually put in what the essential oil is, the essential oil ingredient. So, in this one it's the ylang ylang essential oil, so again, right, we're still being able to maintain this simple, clean essence, and we're still able to use type to create hierarchy on our packaging, okay? So, any questions on that? I have one. So when do the colors we selected previously come in? So this is actually my, I don't know if you can kinda see it, but this is actually my green, this is my primary color, and I decided that I only wanted to use my primary color on my packaging because it's the strongest. In terms of, you know, if I used kind of that rosey color or the beige, it might be a little washed out on my white background, and so I was like, "you know what? I'm just gonna keep this really clean and have my type stand out in my primary color." But again, if I were to actually take this a step further and think about the box that actually the candle came in, maybe I would actually make that the rose color, right? And maybe the inside would be that kind of beige. And again, maybe the type on my box is only still in this dark green. So I'm creating some sort of consistency with the color and with the type.

Class Description


What does it take to create a successful brand? A strong, clear message and visual consistency is what builds trust, and this course will help you define this. Danielle runs her own successful design studio, specializing in branding. 

She’ll guide you through the process of branding your business from start to finish, including how to:

  • Establish a point of view through tone, messaging and voice 
  • Define your vision, core values and how you position yourself in the market 
  • Create a visual style guide that provides a reference for color, typography, and image styling
This class will teach you how to effectively articulate and communicate your brand to your audience visually, creating cohesion through every touch-point. From how you talk about yourself, to what typeface you use, creating cohesion and clarity builds trust. Position your brand to stand out from the crowd!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brand Questionnaire

Branding 101 - Companion

Branding 101 - Resources

Style Guide Templates

Style Guide Example - Slow Candle Co

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


- Emma -

Just finished watching the course. Absolutely loved it! I have no experience in branding at all and this course has given me so much information that will help me a lot. I am so excited to get started and creating my brand style sheet. Thank you so much Danielle you were brilliant! Constructive criticism: If would be better if you knew the information rather than reading off the screen in front of you. Paraphrasing would help, too. But very good job nonetheless!

Vivian Bustamante

Great information with handy resources to use after and apply into our own project. The concepts explained made it more clear and I loved the quotes Danielle used to explain this words we heard a lot when talking about branding, the mission, vision, etc. These weren't clear to me up until this point. Thanks so much!


This was so comprehensive and the resources are wonderful! I couldn't recommend this course enough. I loved the deep dive into the colors, type, and all visual aspects of a brand.