fonts

7 creative resources for non-designers

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Whether you’re a small business owner still DIY-ing your branding and visuals, or you’re a professional designer (like me) — it’s important to have go-to creative resources online that you regularly visit. You might be needing to look for new fonts, piece together a new color palette, design some simple illustrations or icons for your website or need new, strong photos to use within your blog and social media graphics. Or, you might simply hit a wall from time to time and need to download some new templates and find inspiration for your designs.

Below is a quick-hit list of (just a few of) my favorite sites that I constantly defer to when I’m working on a new brand for a client or even my own business development graphics. Leave a comment and let me know what a few of yours are as well, if they’re not listed here, so that I can check ‘em out!

Creative Market: This is absolutely one of the best online resources for design! You can find and purchase anything that you need — from fonts, to vector illustrations, stock photos, textures, patterns — and beyond. They also email featured freebies that you can download (which I do often! Gotta love a free font that comes with a commercial license or some new vector watercolor splashes!) They even offer templates for flyers, brochures, social media graphics, business cards, logos and more. Buy from one of their package options and stay stocked up on your credits, so that you can quickly download what you need, when you need it! (I know that I do.)

FontSquirrel + DaFont: As mentioned in my recent blog post about free + premium fonts, free font sites provide fonts that are free for personal use and often have limited licenses that you must consider. You might be able to use some that have commercial licenses and are still free, but make sure to check first!

FontSquirrel advertises itself as being 100% free for commercial use.

A site like DaFont offers plenty of free fonts (but mainly for personal use) and encourage you to donate to the font designer. Oftentimes, I like to peruse fonts that I want to use for a client job — and experiment with a few. But, once I find the right font, I either find the link to the designer’s site to purchase it OR find a provided link that connects to creative resource sites like Creative Market or Design Cuts, where you can also purchase a commercial license for the font — and that might run anywhere from $12-30. Although other typefaces can cost much more, I like finding these types of fonts that are more affordable and that I know I am legally “OK” using. But again, if you’re using a font for fun or with a personal project (that isn’t classified as “commercial”) then certainly play with free fonts! There are countless collections on these two sites alone, ranging from handwritten/cursive, to holiday-themed, to retro and more!

Pexels.com + Unsplash.com: According to the Pexels website: “It's hard to understand complex licenses. That is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means that the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. You can modify, copy and distribute the photos. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.”

The same applies to Unsplash.com. There are many photos that crossover between the two sites, because they are so similar. I use these sites because the stock photos are beautiful, sleek and artistic. They are not like what you will find on iStock or Shutterstock that are a bit generic — and that everyone has used at one time or another. The best part, they are 100%, totally free to use!

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Canva: By now, I’m sure that you’ve heard of or are using Canva for creating graphics, especially if you’re DIY-ing your designs. I used to not be super crazy about this platform, as I felt that it made “everyone a designer” but now, I see its importance as I help to serve small business owners who are creating their own graphics, until they have a budget to work with a professional designer. I’m actually planning to setup and share an account with my social media strategist, so that we can quickly create and access graphics together. I currently design my brand images in Photoshop, so this will help to free up some space on my computer and allow me to be more efficient with the constant creation of small + simple graphics. (And, I can still use my brand + stock photos, fonts + colors, so that my graphics look just as professional as before.) With that said, Canva is great when it comes to creating a template for anything imaginable — posters, flyers, social media graphics, cards and more. And, it uses a drag-and-drop format, which makes it user-friendly and pretty intuitive to pick up on.

Colour Lovers: This is a handy site for browsing and creating color palettes, shapes and patterns. It also provides you with the RGB, CMYK and HEX codes, so that you can use the exact swatches in your designs. If you’re not sure what the color modes that I just mentioned mean, reference this post that I just wrote last week about color systems!

I like to use this website when I’m experimenting with colors for a logo or creating the official palette for a client’s brand. I like to see what works well together and what doesn’t and file/save away different collections and themes. Even if I don’t end up using a particular palette for the current project that I’m working on, I might use it for another one in the future!

With this list of resources, you should be equipped with some solid, go-to sites for discovering fonts, downloading graphic templates and photos, designing your own graphics and creating color palettes. Happy designing!


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more! 

6 good places to find fonts

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If you’re DIY-ing your brand, or you’re preparing to work with a designer and you’re searching for some font-pairing inspiration (whether for your logo or your website/graphics), it’s important to know what to look for and where to find it.

First things first, let’s talk about free fonts.

Free font sites provide fonts that are free for personal use and often have limited licenses that you must consider. You might be able to use some that have commercial licenses and are still free, but make sure to check first!

Some of these free sites also encourage you to donate to the font designer. Oftentimes, I like to peruse fonts that I want to use for a client job — and experiment with a few. But, once I find the right font, I either find the link to the designer’s site to purchase it OR find a provided link that connects to creative resource sites like Creative Market or Design Cuts, where you can also purchase a commercial license for the font — and that might run anywhere from $12-30. Although other typefaces can cost much more, I like finding these types of fonts that are more affordable and that I know I am legally “OK” using.

Here are my go-to free sites:

  1. Font Squirrel

  2. Google Fonts

  3. DaFont

To skip the free sites (although they are great for searching a certain style and experimenting with different typefaces in your design — “try before you buy”) and go straight to buying more high-end or premium options...

Here are my go-to purchasing sites:

  1. MyFonts

  2. FontSpring

  3. FontShop

You can usually still find a collection of free fonts on the premium sites as well. Free or premium, the best brands tend to use a solid and effective pairing of serif and sans serif typefaces. For help with choosing the right fits, check out my post about this very topic.

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No matter what font selections you make, just remember that if you’re going to use it for your brand (or you’re a designer working on a client’s brand) you must check the licensing. If it’s a free font, is it free for personal + commercial use OR just personal? If it’s only free for personal use and you buy a license (even for just $12) — that’s just (1) license for your use, on your computer. You’ll most likely need to buy a second one for client or vendor use.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018 — how is your branding looking? Would you like to give it a bit of a makeover or refresh? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

QUICK TIP: Should your brand fonts be separate from those used in your logo?

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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.  


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Would you like to revamp it for 2018? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

How to choose the right fonts for your brand

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“How do I pick fonts?” is a really common question that I’ve gotten since I’ve been branding clients, especially the last couple of years. Although your brand can evolve, change and certainly grow with you over the years, typefaces and color palettes are major components by which your audience comes to recognize you. You don’t want to constantly be switching things up every few months.

Branding and design is a big investment. You want to be professional and you want to do it right. Choosing a nice combination of typefaces is one way to help your visual identity stand out and be remembered. Whether you are putting some pieces together yourself or you’re working with a designer, here are three quick and easy tips to keep in mind:

1) Start with at least two: a serif and sans serif

While there are endless options and varieties of fonts floating around all over the world, this is a simple, classic and always solid way to look at and start pairing them together. It’s a rule of thumb that I was always taught in design school. Choose a serif (in “regular, non-design terms” think Times New Roman) and then choose a sans serif to offset it a bit (again, in “regular, non-design terms” think Arial.) You want something that is easy to read, especially in large blocks of copy. And, you want something that can be used to help break up the copy and will give a viewer’s eyes something else to rest on and look at. Also, a big tip is to choose fonts that come from “families” basically meaning that there are different variations of each (like regular, bold, italic, etc.) – this way, they will be more versatile to work with.    

2) Find typefaces that express your voice, personality and style

What is your brand representing? Who are you, what do you do, what are you about and whom do you serve? How do you want to make those people feel? Think about the experience that you want them to have when they come into contact with any aspect of your brand. The typefaces that you use within your logo, website, marketing materials and social media graphics need to tell stories and represent your brand accurately. So, consider if you want that style (and in turn, the fonts) to be light, modern, sophisticated and soft — or big, heavy and bold. Fonts and the right combinations of them can provide you with major impact — and look and feel. 

3) Decide between purchasing and/or downloading fonts for free

It’s usually smart to purchase your font collections, so that you can own desktop and website licenses to use them. Less people might be likely to have them. And many times, they are higher quality and legally safe to use. Creative Market and My Fonts are great resources for purchasing them. Other designers will advise against downloading free fonts, but I don’t totally agree with that. I have downloaded A LOT of free fonts over the years and they’ve functioned perfectly fine and fit the projects that I needed them for. You can use Font Squirrel or DaFont to browse countless options. The downside is that of course, anyone can download them, so they won’t always be as original — although they can still be effective and professional to use. The same can be said for purchased fonts — anyone can purchase the same ones that you do. So, it’s really up to you and whatever your budget is!

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Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
Here we are, 2017! How is your branding looking for the new year? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!