First rule of thumb when it comes to logo creation is to pick a typeface that holds up to the changes in design and tastes. A font choice can easily make or break the logo by portraying the wrong message or easily look out dated within the next couple of years. Of course a logo does not always need words to portray it’s branding, but when it is required, choose wisely.
The other day, I was poking around Virginia Tech’s School of the Visual Arts website to see what has been going on since I graduated from the program and I ran across their faculty-led design house for students.
FourDesign, which used to be called VDS4 when I was in the program, has a plethora of work that they’ve created. To my surprise, in their portfolio was a design for an arts celebration brochure at Virginia Tech every year. Back in 2004 I was the lead designer for all marketing material for this celebration, ArtsFusion in which I ended up creating the branding and logo for the entire event.
Unfortunately, the website I created back then has been left to decay based on what is left, but the logo is still standing. FourDesign continued to use the logo and elements in the latest mailing brochure. This was exciting to me because after six years, it is still being used and loved by the ArtsFusion committee.
At the time of creation of the logo, I was infatuated with Futura — I still like it for print work, but now that I do more designing for the web, I tend to lean on Helvetica more often than not. I felt Futura gave off the modern, forward thinking look that the ArtsFusion committee wanted to express. Mixing in a lighter semi-serif font for subtext combined well with the heavy glyphs of Futura.
One of my design teachers said that a good designer should be able to design anything with one choice font for a span of multiple projects. This not only instills their ability to create and manipulate with the font in new ways, but makes them understand what works and doesn’t for its application. This is probably why I went through a good long stint of using Futura for lots of my projects.
If you are a designer, then surely you know the jokes behind Comic Sans; same could easily be laughable for creating a logo using Times. Starting from scratch to create a logo can be fun or trying, but ultimately enjoyable if you find the right font that speaks to the logo.
Safe fonts are typically those that have been around a long time, such as Futura or even Helvetica &mdash although, one could argue that Helvetica is starting to become over used. Try to stay away from the bad display fonts that are readily available for free to download. A good rule of thumb is if it’s found for free then it’s probably not worth using.
Most importantly, think about the audience. If your logo is for a company that caters to kids, then maybe, just maybe, Comic Sans could be the answer, but I highly urge against it.