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More Than Just a Font

“A brand can be defined as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, that is intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” (Kotler).

Font is an integral part of a brand as it applies and appears on every single one of those features. For example, when someone says they are about to use comic sans, a slight cringe materializes. Comic sans is associated with elementary school worksheets and children’s books. When someone says they are using Times New Roman, one might think of crammed newspaper columns, as that is the medium that it was originally created for. When someone says they are using Calibri, as of recently, you think of that as the default font for Microsoft Word. A few years ago this might have been your reaction to Arial.

A font can make or break a brand and must be chosen very carefully. It is difficult for graphic designers to sift through appropriate fonts, so without a design background, the task proves extremely difficult. This doesn’t seem like it should be so hard, but recently companies are recognizing their brand image is the most important feature to gaining customer trust (?). So, why is font on the forefront of that?

Legibility is a factor in font decision-making. A study found that the legibility of Arial is much higher than that of Times New Roman (Bernard), and this supports the idea of Holzl’s that a sans-serif font is much easier to read due to it’s “uniform line thickness.”

Measuring the significance of font to a brand can be difficult but a study by Doyle and Bottemely compared font significance to name significance to put evidence behind the idea. They found that on 90% of different branding cases (?) font was statistically significant, while the actual name was only 20% significant. Interestingly, this study also tested if certain fonts associated better with or more so with males and females. Findings were that font literally made no difference. So, while one must focus on font (more than names apparently), they need not to when it comes to mixed-gender markets. “This equality between the sexes certainly should make life easier for the company that would use a font to project its brand(s) in mixed-gender markets” (Bottomley, Doyle).

Taking time to choose the font for your brand is extremely worthwhile, for it completely changes your brand and identity. Don’t take font for granted!

J. Holzl

Twelve tips for effective PowerPoint presentations for the technologically challenged Med. Teach., 19 (1997), pp. 175-179


Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementing and Control Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1997)

Doyle, John R. and Paul A. Bottomley.

Font Appropriateness and Brand Choice. Journal of Business Research, vol. 57, no. 8, Aug. 2004, p. 873.

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