Typography is a crucial aspect of financial branding. In simple terms, it refers to your choice of font(s). Yet more broadly it refers to the art and technique of arranging “type”. The latter includes, for instance, letter spacing, line spacing and point sizes.
Think of the range of fonts you can choose from in Word. What determines your choice of font? At least subconsciously, you will consider factors like your audience, the purpose of the communication (e.g. the inform/entertain) and your own personal preferences. At the core of all this thinking, however, is a recognition that typography matters.
Typography affects how your financial brand is received by clients, prospects, staff and other key stakeholders. Whilst it is only the only part of your visual identity, it is important to get it right. Below, our branding team at CreativeAdviser explains the power of typography in financial branding and how to approach it properly.
We hope these insights are useful to you. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your own financial branding project with us.
How typography affects a financial brand
Think about some famous logos you know – e.g. Coca-Cola and Exxon Mobil, to name two at random. Each of these looks very different. The former uses a “cursive” style which looks elegant and is reminiscent of US brands from 1850 to 1925, giving it a historic grounding. Exxon Mobil, by contrast, is more “blocky” and “bold” type which suggests sturdiness and simplicity.
Typography, in short, helps to represent your brand’s tone and values. In this sense, it operates similarly to colour – which itself has a big impact on the emotions of a target audience. Red, for instance, can make you feel energised whilst blue can make you feel calm. Fonts can also influence how your brand is “received” by the audience. A “playful” font creates a sense of fun, for example, whilst a more “rigid” font can look more corporate and serious.
The first step when choosing typography
To choose the best fonts for your financial brand, it is important to understand your brand values and personality.
For instance, is your financial brand a “luxury” brand or more of a “high street” brand (like a retail bank)? The former might lend itself more to elegant, sophisticated typography which feels classic and formal from the very outset. Many of these styles replicate calligraphy and offer typefaces which appear to be written by hand.
These approaches veer towards femininity, elegance and creativity. Each of these also evokes its own connotations. Feminity, for instance, can convey cooperativeness, empathy and understanding (very important to many clients/customers in financial services!).
A more youth-oriented financial brand, however, might use more fun, playful, and energetic typography. Here, most financial firms are likely to steer clear, keen to avoid a perception of immaturity. Yet certain brands – e.g. digital finance platforms – might want to avoid a perception of being too “formal” or “cold”. In which case, typefaces like Museo Sans could be more appropriate.
The second step in financial typography
Your target audience is a key consideration when choosing the right topography for your financial brand. There are many demographics and each has its own preferences and expectations about styles. Choosing typefaces which resonate with them will help to draw their attention and encourage favourable perceptions.
For instance, is your target audience more naturally conservative (e.g. those aged 55+ and in “white collar” employment)? If so, then serif fonts are often regarded as suitable typography candidates. They also help to convey experience and trustworthiness. Alternatively, if you want a more modern or minimalist brand then sans serif broadcasts approachability, friendliness and being casual.
Typography step three
What is your brand’s key message? For instance, is your mission to help investors build more sustainable portfolios? If so, then you may wish to concentrate on fonts with an organic, earthy and natural feel to convey sustainability and eco-friendliness.
Another financial firm’s core message might be to help individual clients discover financial freedom in retirement. Here, you could go in a number of directions. You could opt for a font like Georgia which allude to political independence (e.g. reminiscent of the US Declaration) or you could lean more towards something a bit more passionate, like Guitarist.
The final consideration
Whatever you eventually settle on for typography, make sure the typeface is legible and clear. This should hold true across different media including on your website, on brochures, on social media profiles and on smaller pieces like your email signature and business card.
Sans serif has an advantage here since it lacks decorative embellishments, making it easier to read on a screen. Take care with fonts that replicate handwriting, however, as these may be difficult for readers to discern. Coca-Cola manages to get away with it because its brand is so well known, the wording in its logo does not need to be legible. Many financial brands do not have that luxury.
Your typography should be scalable and adaptable to different sizes, formats and backgrounds. The more versatile it is, the better. This is often why simpler fonts perform better than “intricate ones”. It is easier to integrate them into different contexts.
Be mindful of how your fonts may appear on printed materials as well as on digital contexts. Sometimes, the “finish” of a printed piece of design looks different to how it appears on the digital version (e.g. PDF versus printed brochures). Check with a professional designer to help avoid this potential issue with your own colours, fonts and styling.