I was talking to a design friend from college the other day that was getting ready to design some new print materials for a client. While the client’s logo (that she did not design) had a decent color palette and “OK” visual elements to it, the fonts were certainly dated and the weakest aspects of the design. In developing the new pieces, my friend asked me if I thought she should come up with some new brand fonts for them, as the client wanted a new and fresh look anyway. After some conversation, weighing the pros and cons, we both ultimately agreed that she should come up with new ones to use in her design. Whether you are asked to develop new typography for a brand entirely (doesn’t matter if you’ve designed the logo or not) or at least for a special project, this is something really important to consider.
Frankly, there is no right or wrong answer. A lot of variables can play into whether or not a brand should have a set collection of “brand fonts” used on print and digital materials that are separate from ones that are used in a brand’s logo. Overall, it all depends on the strength of the logo fonts. Sometimes, a logo uses a unique, decorative or hand-drawn typeface in an artistic way and other times, a logo uses classic typography choices in a straightforward, simple and clean design.
So, at the end of the day, should your brand fonts be separate from those used in your logo?
1. No, if the logo already uses a good serif + sans serif combo.
When I design a logo, I tend to use a combination of two fonts. This might be a serif and sans serif combo or a handwritten + sans serif combo. I tend to make the name of the business the main focus of course, on its own line — and I’ll run a tagline or small description (if needed) underneath that. Regardless, whether I’m working with a logo that I’ve designed or that someone else has, if there is a nice combination of fonts already being used that express the brand well and that I know will be professional and readable across different mediums, I will usually just stick with using them as the “official” brand fonts. You certainly don’t have to, but I don’t see a big reason not to. To learn the difference between the three main styles of fonts, feel free to reference this past blog post.
2. Yes, if the logo is dated and you can’t change it right now.
Like my friend that I just mentioned above, if you’re working with a logo designed by someone else and the brand doesn’t plan to update it anytime soon, you need to decide how you feel about the fonts used in the logo. If they’re dated or too decorative/artistic to use consistently, over and over again on branded materials, then you should recommend a good pairing of fonts that will complement the existing design. This is what my friend and I decided that she should do. You can still respect the existing logo and brand elements, but if you’re not able to offer an entire rebrand, you should at least still offer your thoughts on some fresh typography that can be used to help enhance the current brand.
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