When Vincent Connare first designed the globally recognised, light hearted Comic Sans font in 1995, no-one could have guessed he was creating something that would split opinions worldwide.
Originally created to be a friendly comic book style alternative to the formal Times New Roman text in a Microsoft animation, Comic Sans has since become a point of contention amongst many. Simultaneously popular and reviled, it is one of the world’s most frequently used fonts and has even been featured in a photo album published by the Vatican in tribute to Pope Benedict XVI.
Despite being detested by the world of typography for its simplicity and overuse, Comic Sans has one redeeming feature: it is easy to read and retains attention, making it perfect for teaching. However, it’s definitely not appropriate for every occasion.
In the height of its popularity, Comic Sans has been used by hospitals, police forces, churches, and even by the BBC to publish serious information to the public. Far from serious, Comic Sans has associations of childlike fun and was created as a comic book print, making it wildly inappropriate for such important information. So if Comic Sans can receive such a controversial reaction the world over, you have to wonder what your typeface may be saying about your business.
So how do you choose a font suitable for your industry and brand?
We interviewed typography expert Chris Hardy from X Change Training, who describes how certain fonts can elicit a variety of reactions from readers:
“Sans serif fonts are seen as clean and modern, whereas serif fonts are seen as traditional and comforting. Script fonts evoke a feeling of elegance, creativity and history. A font is used to make the reader feel a certain way and helps to enhance the overall message.”
For example, the childish associations of Comic Sans would make it an inappropriate font to use in your formal business documents and presentations. So before you decide on a typeface, think about your company’s industry and identity. Consider how you want to appeal to your audience and how you may be perceived by using a certain font.
Identified by a line at the end of each stroke, a serif style font, such as Times New Roman and Baskerville, conveys feelings of respectability and professionalism. Used by The Times newspaper, it’s a more traditional and recognisable typeface that has a reassuring influence.
Perfect for a business or law related companies, serif creates an air of authority that will leave an impression of reliability with your customers. However, be careful which serif font you choose as the overuse and commonality of Times New Roman means it is often associated with apathy and a lack of thought in your choices.
Simplistic and modern, a sans serif typeface has been shown to communicate feelings of trust, strength and stability. Many newer companies use a sans serif font in their logos – notably Google and Apple who have created well known and respectable identities.
The modern style of this typeface is perfect for progressive and forward thinking tech companies and creates a professional, yet friendly identity. Easy to read on-screen, sans serif font types like Arial and Calibri are ideal for any online text bodies.
Elegant and sophisticated, script fonts are based on fluid handwritten strokes. Also referred to as display or decorative type, script is often used for logos rather than body text. Creating feelings of affection and leaving an impression of creativity, script style logos help to establish authenticity, authority and heritage.
A script typeface is ideal when creating a logo for a company with high-end, luxurious products or services. However this style of font would not be suitable for a main body of text as its trademark distinctive features can leave it illegible.
So if you’re working on creating an identity for your company, don’t underestimate the effect your typeface can have on the way your customers perceive you. If you’re in business or law stick to trusty serif fonts like Garamond. Those in a creative tech industry can afford to be a little more informal and would be best to opt for a clean-cut, modern sans serif like Helvetica. To add a touch of authenticity to your logo, try out a decorative typeface like Edwardian Script. Whatever you choose, for whatever industry you’re in, our final piece of advice is to not be fooled by the popularity of the world’s most controversial font – there’s a time and a place for Comic Sans – use it wisely, if at all.