Anything but Comic Sans

I consider myself a bit of a font junkie. When charged with the task of creating a design for someone, my hardest decision is often choosing a typeface. I’ve got a few hundred installed on my computer, and sometimes I find myself scrolling through all the different fonts I have to try and find the exact right fit.

Why are fonts so important? The font sets the mood, your eyes go to the words first. J. Barnbrook of Virus Fonts says:

“A good typeface creates an emotional response in relation to the message it is conveying. You’re trying to get that tone of voice right – you can shout or whisper.”

We’ve all see posters or power-point presentations where it’s obvious someone used the wrong font; the internet loves to point out when you shouldn’t use Comic Sans. But if everything is right – we shouldn’t even notice the typeface – it should just feel natural.

The Brands of Helvetica

We’ve all identified brands by their typeface – you know the Google font (Catull), you know the Facebook font (Klavika Bold), and you know the Twitter font (Pico Alphabet). You know products that have their own, custom, fonts – like Coca-cola, Disney, and ESPN. And then there is Helvetica, one of the most used typefaces in the world – used by brands like Crate & Barrel, American Airlines, Jeep, Microsoft, CVS, and the NYC Subway system to name a few.

We’re even guilty of it ourselves. The Whizbang Concepts logo is created using Helvetica. The the proliferation of Helvetica throughout the world is explored in the 2007 documentary ‘Helvetica’, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Getting back to using fonts here – I have a few ‘go-to’ fonts that I use more often than others. But I’m always trying to use them to convey the message. In the Music In Our Schools Month t-shirt, I wanted to emulate the Got Milk campaign, so I used Phenix American. In the USS Mesa Verde and BLK’s Brawlers shirts, I wanted to portray a certain strength and volume, so I used Reservoir Grunge. For a shirt about the Military, I may use Stencil or Airborne, and for a sports team I like to use Ballpark Wiener. This shirt for a senior class trip to Philadelphia, I used a less formal font called DKBabysitter.

The point is – every design needs a typeface, and choosing the right one is just as integral to the design as everything else


About john

John is the Graphic design engine at WhizBang Concepts. He lives in North Wilmington, DE with his wife Lisa, and their daughter Tessa and works full-time in Philadelphia as a Marine Engineer. John is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy reserve and enjoys following the NY Yankees and NY Giants.