What every marketer needs to know about fonts


Do thoughts of Garamond, Times New Roman, or Calibri enter your mind when thinking about your client’s website design, ad campaign, or product packaging?

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts when guiding their clients through various creative choices. Overlooking something as basic as the look and positioning of the lettering that you use can be a huge mistake since fonts have a tremendous impact on how consumers process and receive a brand’s messaging.

If the world and language of fonts sometimes seem confusing, the marketing experts at MDG Advertising have you covered. Our latest infographic, “Fonts 101: What Marketers Need to Know,” will help you understand how to pick the fonts that will appeal to your brand’s target audience.

What Is the Distinction Between Font and Typeface?

The terms font and typeface go back to the early days of printing when individual letters were arranged together in blocks of metal or wood in sections to form text that could be printed. The term typeface was used to describe the entire design of the letters, while font referred to specific characteristics, such as style and size. For example:

Typeface: Helvetica

Font: 12 pt. Helvetica bold

Modern digital printing and typesetting has blurred the lines between the two, so the terms are often used interchangeably. Today, font refers to any collection of characters with common design elements.

What Elements Make Up a Font?

The various curves, lines, swoops, and angles of individual letters distinguish one font from another. The following are some of the common terms used by designers in describing fonts:

Strokes: Strokes are the curved and straight lines of each letter.

Counters: A counter is the white space contained within a letter, such as the letter P.

Bars/Crossbars: Bars and crossbars are the horizontal lines within a letter, such as the letter A.

Ligatures: Ligatures are letters joined together to create a single character. A ligature combines two letters that are likely to overlap when used together. It creates a smooth connection between two letters by removing dots over an “I” or connecting crossbars, such as joining the lowercase fi and ff.

Within a particular font family, there usually are subcategories based on different characteristics, including:

  • The weight or thickness of the characters, such as thin, normal, or bold.
  • The style or slant of the characters, such as upright or italic.

What Are the Main Font Categories?

The majority of fonts fall into one of the three following classifications:

Sans-Serif: Helvetica and Univers and other sans-serif fonts do not have the strokes at the ends of the characters. These fonts have become increasingly popular with the rise of digital media and have a modern, minimalistic look.

Serif: Serifs are extra strokes at the end of a character and are seen in fonts like Times New Roman and Garamond. Serif fonts are typically perceived as more formal, traditional, and elegant.

Decorative: Decorative fonts are attention-grabbing and are meant to attract attention and push traditional boundaries. When used sparingly, they can evoke specific emotions, such as nostalgia, in the consumer. Examples of popular decorative fonts include Allegro and Pacifico.

Are Fonts Really That Important?

Every design element, including the font, communicates your brand’s unique features to consumers and affects their assessment of your brand. Studies show that three-quarters of consumers evaluate a business by the design of its website. Another 72% said that they base purchasing decisions on packaging design.

How Do I Know Which Font Is Best for My Brand?

There is no one perfect font. In fact, consumer preferences can vary based on location, age, and culture. When choosing a font for your brand, you should think contextually by considering the situation in which it will appear, as well as your target audience. Ask yourself the following questions to help you narrow down your choices:

Is the font readable? Small or low-contrast fonts can be a huge turnoff to consumers.

Does the font reflect my brand image? For example, a traditional serif font may work well for a law firm, but a modern, sans-serif font would likely work better for a technology company.

How will the font be read? You may need to alter the size, weight, spacing, or style of the font to ensure that text remains readable across various platforms.

For more font information, check out MDG Advertising’s useful infographic, Fonts 101: What Marketers Need to Know.


Anthony Del Gigante , Chief Creative Officer at MDG Advertising

Anthony Del Gigante is chief creative officer at MDG Advertising, a full-service ad agency in Brooklyn, New York and Boca Raton, Florida. Over the years, his unique talents in brand strategy, visual identity development, and brand activation have consistently delivered measurable results for a wide range of world-renowned clients, including American Express, Verizon, AbbVie, and Cushman Wakefield. A brand specialist, Anthony leads MDG’s creative development, working with clients to develop creative, strategic, and functional solutions for their brands.