Recently I have had some clients ask me what font was used in designing their logo. I did not give a straight answer. Why? There are three main reasons:

  1. The client wants to start using the font for practically everything.
    I know their motives. The sales manager may want to “throw together” a quick sales sheet and he (or she) decides that it will look cool if the document is liberally sprinkled with the same font as the one in the logo. Akk! That, in my opinion, is a big no-no. Your logo or wordmark needs to stand alone as something that uniquely identifies your business. Over-use of the typeface used to design your logo can dilute the identity and reduces the logo’s impact. Think of this analogy: high-end fashion is just that because of its uniqueness. A mass-produced dress isn’t high fashion, no matter how beautiful, because it has become commonplace. It’s the same with your business identity. Reserve that typeface for your logo. What that sales manager should do instead is to select a font that complements the logo and extends the business or nonprofit’s style. (Your graphic designer can help choose one.)
  2. The font was not designed for that use
    Similarly, the typeface used in the wordmark may not be appropriate for the intended use I know they have in mind. This is really the stuff for another posting, but let me explain quickly: Fonts are basically divided into two categories—display and text. Their names suggest the difference. A display font is designed for use in larger sizes and for short amounts of text, like a business name or maybe a book title on the dust jacket—a display. But if you use a display font for a whole paragraph of text the reader will end up with a headache or just give up and go away. These are the fun, funky and cool fonts, or script fonts we love to collect. Text fonts, on the other hand are workhorses. They are designed to work well at smaller sizes and for large amounts of text, like correspondence or pages of a book, for example. Often, though not always, a text font can double as a display font. But it takes a trained eye to know for sure. As they say on TV, “Do not try this at home.”
  3. It is not a font at all
    More often than you think, a logo or wordmark is developed by crafting the letters just for that identity. The letter forms in the logo design you see were designed from scratch and never came from a font you can go buy. Alternatively, the designer may have taken an existing typeface as a starting point, but then manipulated it to achieve the desired result. Maybe the serifs get shortened, the tail on the y is extended or the upper case A is made from manipulating a lower case a.  Almost always the letter spacing is adjusted, as well.

So that is why, when you ask what font I used, you likely get a (polite) blank stare.

What do you think? Join the conversation.