Font Psychology: Let Your Typeface Do The Talking
min read

Font Psychology: Let Your Typeface Do The Talking

Did you know that fonts and typefaces can convey emotion? Read along to learn more.

We understand that selecting fonts can be tricky; many are out there, and it can be hard to choose the perfect fit!

We've been in business for over a decade, helping companies create the most fabulous branded custom apparel. With that, we have seen many different fonts embroidered and screen-printed over the years.

This article will briefly describe the difference between fonts and typefaces and what these styles convey to the reader. Whether you're interested in ordering some embroidered hoodies or screen-printed tees, or maybe you're designing your brand's website and trying to "vibe-check" yourself, we've got you covered. 

Alrighty, let’s get to the fun stuff.

It’s all about emotion.

When finding a brand voice and keeping things consistent and cohesive, it's crucial to consider that typeface and fonts can powerfully convey emotion to your target audience. 

Fonts are interesting– they have an uncanny ability to conjure emotions with even the simplest change of with even the simplest switch from a thin font to a bolded one. Imagine a business card, for example. Are you seeing the phrase "Attorney at Law" in a sleek, uniform typeface or written in Comic Sans? Our guess is the first option. 

But this isn't because lawyers are barred from using arts-and-crafts-style fonts on their business cards. As far as we know, nothing is stopping them from doing so! Lawyers, chime in if there's some law we don't know about. Other than the fact that Comic Sans might not send the message a legal expert is looking to send.

All this is to say that your chosen typeface can say more than just the text it's dressing. Your choice of font is more important than you think. And when you're designing custom t-shirts, your chosen type can make or break your entire design. 

Typeface vs. Font

While we used typeface and font interchangeably above, there is a slight difference between the two: typeface is the umbrella term for a font family. Times New Roman, for example, is a typeface, and its bold, italicized, and thin variants are examples of fonts. If we zoom out even further, we'll see that there are four different groups of typefaces; typeface types, if you will. The details of each can impact how you say what you want to say. 

women with a shirt that shows an example of a serif typeface

Serif Typefaces

If you've done some design work (or spent more than five minutes talking to a designer), you're likely familiar with the two most common typeface classifications: serif and sans serif.

The term "serif" refers to the tiny flares that jut from the end of a letter. Serif typefaces, like Times New Roman, tend to be classic and elegant –– a typeface you'd see on a resumé or five-course dinner menu, but maybe not on a celebratory t-shirt.

man with a shirt that shows an example of san serif typeface

Sans Serif Typefaces

Now that we know that a "serif" is the decorative details at the end of a letter, it should be no surprise that a "sans serif" typeface is without those very frills. Part of the great debate between serif and sans serif typefaces that rages on is that, in many ways, these font families represent the "old school" and the "new school." 

For all the decorated elegance of the serif, the sans serif offers a simplistic and minimalist alternative. But in the serif vs. sans serif war, sans serif is more marketable in this day and age: Netflix, Spotify, Jeep, and Google all use sans serif typefaces in their logos. 

women with a shirt that shows an example of script typeface

Script Typefaces

While Jeep employs a sans serif typeface, rival automaker Ford's cursive logo is a perfect example of a script typeface. This typeface and others like it run the gamut from joyful handwritten fonts to suave, swoopy typefaces which seem right at home adorning a hotel in Beverly Hills or Miami Beach.

(Real Thread's redesigned look also features a script-style typeface, ICYMI.)

Script-style typefaces are also great for retro, Americana-inspired designs, making them the go-to for super-cool shops like Deus Ex Machina and the motorcycle clubs which inspired them. 

A Typeface for Every Mood 

Now that we know what the most popular styles of typefaces look like, let's examine how you can say more about your chosen typeface.

When You Want to Be Serious

Calibri. Times New Roman. Helvetica. These typefaces might be a mix of sans-serif and serif-adorned styles, but they all share an air of professionalism. On a business card, they show you're serious about what you do. In an essay, they make it known that you're serious about your subject matter, and on custom t-shirts, for your business, they tell the world your team is the one for the job.  

When You Want to Be Fun

Not every t-shirt has to be a walking billboard –– and with the right font, yours can be a good time on wheels while still repping your brand. Bubbly, charming, or uplifting styles (yes, we're still talking about typefaces!) can help differentiate your brand and break away from the status quo. Inspiration is everywhere.  And if you're using custom t-shirts to promote an event or commemorate a family reunion, these typefaces can remind wearers what a good time the whole thing was for years to come.

When You Want to Be Futuristic

We are still determining what the future will look like (if you do, please give us a call), but we all have an idea of what it might feel like. Typefaces like Avenir and Futura convey a forward-thinking optimism that feels like how the future might be– giving your designs a visual lift. Armed with these typefaces, tech start-ups, revolutionaries, and other businesses paving a different path can look to the future while shaping it. 

You’ve learned how typefaces and specific fonts can convey emotion- now what? 

Here are a few resources you can check out to find fonts and your many options. There are TONS:

When it comes down to picking the best font for your next custom apparel order, we’re here to screen print or embroider anything you’d like. We’ve been doing this for over a decade, so we know a thing or two. *wink*

Connect with our amazing team to get things started!

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