Keys to an effective logo

What do you want the font to say?

There are thousands of fonts, each with numerous variations of weight and style. There is no rulebook to tell you which will best represent your brand.

However, there is some understanding of what various typefaces communicate and there are general principles about their uses.

You could spend days looking at fonts, waiting for the one that reminds you most of your company. But is quicker and better to determine what your brand is and how you want your prospective customers to react to it, and then find the typeface that's most likely to elicit that reaction.

Then you can consider readability, legibility and how it fits with your audience's needs and your brand message. You have more room to experiment with a font for a logo than you do with longer texts where ease of reading is more important.

The choice of font for your logo should be based on how appropriate it is for your brand and message. You may find a certain typeface is appealing to you personally, but if doesn't suit your company, you need to avoid using it.

Finally, you adjust your choice to ensure it works well with your brand colours and symbols.

Creating the right mood

Typefaces have been created over time for specific purposes – for body copy or for headlines, for accent or for impact, etc. And each font can also set a mood and convey an emotion.

It's important that the typeface used in your logo reflect the mood you want your brand to have. There are font reference books that describe these characteristics, and you can also review typefaces and note what each appears to be saying to you.

For a dramatic example, look at how the word “relax” reads when it is in a “relaxed” font and when it is in a more formal or powerful typeface. Also, see the difference between lower case and all capitals.

Types of type – families of fonts

Fonts can be categorized in many ways, but it's easiest to think of them in the five main groups that include most of the typefaces being used today.
The following graphic shows two sans serif fonts (without little appendages at the ends of the letters) and four serif fonts (which have them).


Every part of each letter is the same width. These typefaces are clean and modern, but can be cold or even boring.


These have more detail, and usually some variation in the width of different strokes in each letter. They can look modern without being sterile, but some can be seen as insincere.

Old Style

These have less contrast between the width of strokes, and the letters are more curved and slanted, like handwriting. They imply tradition, but can come across as stodgy.


These faces are more geometrical than Old Style, with sharper forms. They can be strong and dynamic, but also old-fashioned.


These have more contrast between the thick and thin strokes of their letters. They can be dramatic and stylish, but also (despite the name) dated.

Slab Serif

These have serifs that are the same thickness as the rest of the letter forms. They can look sophisticated, even friendly, but some come across as rough or authoritarian.

...And more

There are thousands of typefaces made up of pictures, decorations, shapes or unusual combinations of the basic font families' characteristics. Each has a specific intent and must be considered carefully.

Weights, slants and variations.

Within any typeface, there are many choices involving the thickness of the lines, how compressed the letters are horizontally, the angles they're used at and, of course, size.

The basic or standard for any font is called roman (although that term is also used to mean Western European letter forms).

  • If the lines in each letter are thinner, that's light. If they're thicker, it's bold. Thicker still is black. There are myriad variation all the way from hairline to ultra-black.
  • If each letter is squeezed, that's called condensed. If they're spread out, it's expanded.
  • When the letters are on an angle, that's italic or oblique. This aspect can also include making the letters more like handwriting.

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