You’re working on a dreamy brand design project, and are ready to add your amazing text – but wait! Don’t use those boring old standard system fonts! (At least, not if you want your message to shine!)
Standard system fonts are those that come pre-installed on your computer – for example, the ones that come up in Microsoft Word.
I can hear you now… “But it’s just text….system fonts must be good enough if everyone has them?”
Sorry to say this, but it’s the exact opposite.
Consider this, every element you use in your branding, including your text, is an opportunity to represent the uniqueness and individuality of your brand. Will the overused fonts, pre-loaded on millions and millions of computers all over the world, really help you stand out?
Fonts that have been used over and over again communicate directly to your brain that it’s looking at something “dated,” and it’s detrimental not only to the image of your brand, but also its credibility and seriousness.
That’s a pretty good reason to switch things up, right? But what should you use if not the same old, same old?
Here are some great graphic designer-approved alternatives to the standard system fonts:
Instead of: Times New Roman
Try: New Baskerville
Why: Originally created in 1929 for the Times of London British newspaper, this font is one of the most ubiquitous in the world. Its usage makes sense for newspapers, because its narrow appearance allows for more text per line. However because it comes installed on practically every device, it’s taken over documents and advertisements worldwide. Times New Roman is perhaps, the most “standard” of all standard system fonts – demonstrating no effort, let alone creativity, whatsoever. New Baskerville is a lesser-used, but still readable and elegant, font that works just as well.
Instead of: Arial
Why: Arial was designed in 1982 to mirror the popular Helvetica font, so that documents could be used without the need for a font license. This may be the reason it’s become as common in modern documents as Times New Roman. In fact, one of its creators even described it as “a generic sans serif, almost a bland sans serif.” If you’re seeking a font that’s simple and readable without being generic and bland, Din shares many of Arial’s positive qualities without appearing everywhere.
Instead of: Papyrus
Why: Hand-drawn in 1982, and intended to look as though it was written on papyrus 2000 years ago, the Papyrus font (along with the next font on our list) seems to be one of the most reviled typefaces still in use. One website even called it “the king of bad fonts.” Unlike Times New Roman and Arial, Papyrus isn’t simple, elegant or even particularly readable – yet it appears in marketing everywhere! If your project requires an old-fashioned font with a stylish twist, consider Ventana as an alternative. Ventana was created using Chinese ink and a bamboo pen and evokes an old world charm.
Instead of: Comic Sans
Why: If Papyrus is the enemy of designers, Comic Sans is the enemy of everyone.🤣 Created in 1994 with comic book lettering as its inspiration it was intended for use in informal documents and educational settings. Since then, Comic Sans has become its namesake – a comedic punchline! Many graphic designers make light of the fonts childish appearance and compose memes joking about it! Some folks in the Netherlands may disagree, as they celebrate a Comic Sans Day every July! For projects where a friendly, less-serious tone is suitable, the Noyh font family is a good choice. It’s modern and geometric in appearance, and pleasing to the eye.
Instead of: Bradley Hand
Why: Bradley Hand was created in 1995 to mimic the writing of its creator, Richard Bradley. While its felt-marker-on-paper effect may be well-suited for fun design projects, it’s also so very common. Spoiled, a customisable font family with a creative, hand-drawn feel, is more interesting, more versatile, and doesn’t appear in a million designs already. It’s a great option for projects needing to look casual and personal.
Keep in mind it’s okay to use system fonts for your body copy in Word documents like internal reports. Especially when the document needs to be shared across multiple computers, requiring everyone has the standard system font installed. Even if you need to rely on standard fonts, you can still take steps to create a document that’s otherwise well-branded. Enhance your document by incorporating a branded header and footer graphic that complement the system font, but also make your branding unique.
Keep in mind some non-system fonts available online are free, others you need to pay for use. The paid ones are always the most effective in branding, you can learn all about that here.
We’d love to hear about your favourite fonts of all time (designer, standard or otherwise) leave us a comment below!
Co-owner of Verve Design, Teegan’s 12+ years of experience in design and marketing, and her love of mindfulness and meditation brings strategy with intention and creativity with purpose.