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Font Psychology: 8 Strategies to Choose Fonts for Effective Visual Communication

Featuring Neue Swiss by Jen Wagner Co.

Jeremy Moser April 16, 2024 · 8 min read
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Choosing a font isn’t a formality. It’s as important as the color, graphic elements, and all other branding aspects of a website or design piece.

The psychology of fonts is quite interesting. The font you choose will influence how readers interpret your words.

With their flowing, hand-drawn, or calligraphic styles, script fonts often represent elegance, creativity, and personal touch. They’re commonly used to convey a sense of individuality, artistic flair, and sophistication.

On the other hand, a serif font like Times New Roman reflects tradition and reliability and might be used in formal or corporate communications to communicate professionalism and trustworthiness.

Display fonts, known for their unique and often bold designs, are attention-grabbing, distinctive, and impactful for visual communication. They’re used to make a strong statement in headings, logos, and advertisements.

Clean and modern fonts, like Helvetica, are good for contemporary and forward-thinking tech companies.

We experience the psychological impact of fonts daily–when scrolling on Instagram or viewing posters on public transport.

Choosing a font can’t be random–it has to reflect the emotional tone of the message and the brand’s personality.

In this blog, we suggest eight font selection strategies.

1. Match the Font With the Industry

When choosing a font, it’s essential to consider how these elements influence user perception depending on the industry. A prime example can be found in the financial sector.

Take SoFi, for instance, a company specializing in financial services like student loan refinancing. Their website is a testament to the effective use of color psychology intertwined with strategic font choices. 

SoFi’s palette combines calming blues and energetic greens, colors traditionally associated with trust, calmness, and financial growth. This choice reinforces their brand identity and instills a sense of reliability and optimism in their users.

A screenshot of the SoFi website's home page

Image source: 

The fonts used on SoFi’s website are equally important. They employ clean, modern fonts that convey clarity and ease of understanding — vital for financial services where clarity is paramount. 

These fonts are visually appealing and enhance readability, ensuring that important information about loan refinancing options is easily digestible.

Integrating well-chosen fonts and a thoughtful color scheme on SoFi’s website demonstrates how these elements can significantly impact user experience. 

It’s a clear example of how businesses in sectors like student loan refinancing can utilize font psychology and color theory to communicate effectively with their audience, guiding them through potentially complex financial decisions easily and confidently.

2. Use Contrasting Fonts for Emphasis

Maintaining consistency in font selection while playing with color nuances can significantly impact a brand’s identity across diverse channels. The fundamental strategy lies in achieving a perfect equilibrium between readability and aesthetics. 

Color contrast, a pivotal element in this equation, guarantees that the chosen font is easily discernible against the background, facilitating seamless engagement for readers.

Consider Simplified, an all-in-one marketing platform with tools like an essay generator, video editor, presentation maker, etc., exemplifying this principle with its dark mode trend. They’re using Rubik font in white against a dark background that strikes an optimal contrast balance, underscoring the importance of a thoughtful font and color strategy. 

This approach enhances readability and fortifies the brand’s visual appeal across various communication platforms.

A screenshot of Simplified's website

Image Source.

3. Match Font With Brand Personality

The Ritz Hotel in London is a luxury brand that’s chosen Garamond Premier Pro for its headings and Montserrat as its body font–the perfect font pairing.

screenshot of Ritz London
Image source

Garamond is a classic serif font synonymous with sophistication and a sense of tradition. It has a historical charm and an aesthetic appeal that resonates with luxury and high quality, aligning perfectly with the image next to the heading. With this font, the Ritz communicates its heritage, exclusivity, and commitment to classic luxury, setting an upscale and refined tone.

Montserrat, a sans-serif font, offers a clean and modern contrast to Garamond while maintaining readability. This font choice suggests that while The Ritz cherishes its traditional roots, it embraces contemporary elegance.

Montserrat’s clean lines and modernity provide a fresh and accessible feel, ensuring the text is legible and approachable. Combining a modern body text font with a classic headings font creates a balanced aesthetic that reflects The Ritz’s blend of timeless elegance and modern sophistication.

4. Prioritize Accessibility

The American Association of People with Disabilities’ choice of the Asap font for its headings and Poppins for its body text is a thoughtful decision that aligns with its mission to serve and advocate for people with disabilities.

A screenshot of The American Association of People with Disabilities website.
Image source

Asap is a clean font, offering excellent legibility. Its uncluttered appearance and open letterforms make it easy to read, even at larger sizes used for headings. This is crucial for individuals with visual impairments or reading difficulties, as the clarity of the font can significantly aid in comprehension.

Poppins is another accessible font characterized by its rounded letterforms and even spacing. Its simplicity and readability make it an ideal choice for longer texts, ensuring the message is easily digestible for readers with diverse abilities. 

The font’s balanced proportions, combined with the effective use of white space, contribute to a smooth reading experience, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with dyslexia or other cognitive disabilities.

5. Establish a Hierarchy With Font Weight and Size

Establishing a clear hierarchy through font weight and size is a paramount strategy in font psychology for effective visual communication. This hierarchy guides readers through the content, emphasizing key information and fostering a seamless reading experience.

A striking example of this can be observed on the StudioSuits website, renowned for its premium men’s seersucker suits, jackets, and pants. By employing a thoughtfully designed hierarchy in font-weight, StudioSuits ensures that essential details stand out, facilitating an intuitive navigation experience for visitors and underscoring the brand’s commitment to precision and quality craftsmanship.

screenshot of Studiosuits

Image Source.

6. Use Fonts That Match User Sensitivities

The choice of font, such as Arial Greek, on Hims.com for presenting information about sildenafil, an erectile dysfunction medication, may be rooted in psychological considerations aimed at establishing a sense of trust, professionalism, and accessibility. 

Arial Greek is a clean and straightforward sans-serif font that conveys a modern and simple aesthetic. In the context of a sensitive topic like erectile dysfunction, using a font that’s easy to read and lacks unnecessary embellishments may be intentional to foster clarity and transparency. 

Additionally, choosing a familiar and widely used font like Arial may be strategic in building a sense of reliability and credibility among users, as it is associated with mainstream and reputable communication. 

The aim is likely to create an environment where individuals seeking information about sildenafil feel comfortable, reassured, and can easily comprehend the medication’s details.

A screenshot of Hims website.

Image source

7. Consider What You Want Your User To Feel

Every font tells a story. Beyond aesthetics, fonts can evoke emotions, convey personality, and form personal connections with the reader. 

Take Lato, a geometric sans-serif. Its lack of decorative elements creates a sense of approachability and professionalism, resonating with the psychological effect of sans-serif fonts being perceived as neutral, modern, and trustworthy. This aligns perfectly with brands aiming to project a strong, dependable, and transparent image.

Versatility is Lato’s superpower. Its wide range of weights and italics allows for creating a diverse visual language within a brand, catering to the need for fonts to match and express a unique personality and message. Imagine a brand that celebrates tradition while embracing modernity. 

Lato’s geometric simplicity and versatility mirror this approach, blending classic readability with a contemporary aesthetic.

House of Joppa, a Catholic store, is a masterclass in Lato’s potential. Devoid of overly ornate elements, Lato creates a welcoming and approachable atmosphere, perfectly complementing House of Joppa’s aim to appeal to contemporary audiences seeking to integrate faith into their modern lives. 

The balanced proportions and lack of visual distractions in Lato further project a sense of trustworthiness and authenticity, aligning with House of Joppa’s commitment to providing genuine and meaningful products.

House of Joppa’s selection of Lato demonstrates a profound understanding of font psychology and its role in crafting effective visual communication. 

By leveraging Lato’s readability, versatility, and subtle psychological cues, they effectively convey their brand message, guide visitors through their online experience, and reinforce their unique position as a modern and approachable source of faith-inspired products.

A screenshot of House of Joppa's website
A screenshot of House of Joppa's website

Image sources

8. Consider the Target Audience

Wedding planners Carats & Cake, who help couples choose everything from the venue to the tiniest details on wedding invitations, use Linotype Didot for headings.

A screenshot of Carat and Cake's website
Image source

Didot is an elegant font. With its high contrast between thick and thin strokes and classic style, Didot exudes luxury, romance, and a high-end feel. The font instantly conveys a sense of premium quality and timeless beauty, aligning with the dreams and aspirations of couples planning their wedding.

Wrapping Up

It’s been fun journeying through the wonderful world of fonts. We hope our eight strategies have given you food for thought for your next design project!

What did you think of our selection and choices? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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About the Author
Author
Jeremy Moser

Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.

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