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This Is the Fastest Way to Make Your Business Look Sketchy

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that something's just... off? Maybe you're walking down the street at night and you suddenly start feeling uneasy. Even though there's no visible danger, your body tenses up and you can feel the hair on your skin standing up.

Whether it's a subtle shift in the atmosphere or an unfamiliar sound, you have a sneaking suspicion something's not right. That gut feeling is a reminder that our senses are constantly processing information. And sometimes, they pick up on cues our conscious minds don't register.

Are you making your clients feel the same way?

You might be, depending on the level of care you put into your typography. In the grand scheme of branding, fonts may seem like a minor detail. You just pick the ones you like and play it by ear depending on where you're using them, right?

If you want to make clients feel like something's off about your business, sure. While not all your clients will conscoiusly know you're using mismatched fonts, their senses will pick up on the fact that something's not right. And that's how you get your business looking sketchy faster than you can say Comic Sans.

Fonts shape the perception of your business

Fonts have a powerful impact on how your business is perceived. They have the ability to evoke certain emotions and convey specific messages.

For example, a bold and modern font signals confidence and innovation, while a classic serif font creates a sense of elegance and tradition. With the fonts you've selected for your brand, you're communicating your values and personality to your target audience.

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Let's step into your clients' shoes

Imagine you're looking for an accountant for your business. You want them to be trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced. The thing is, you don't know them personally. So, your opinion of them is shaped by what you can see.

You look at a few websites and decide to go forward with your future accountant. When it's time to sign the contract, you're in for a shock. What it says sounds legal, but it sure doesn't look like it.

You're not an expert in typography so you can't really put your finger on it, but something's off. So, you call up your designer friend, just to confirm you're not going crazy.

While waiting for the expert's verdict, your mind is working overtime. At this point, you're no longer sure you've made the right choice. You're questioning this person's competence. Can you really trust them with your money?

You're snapped out of your thoughts by a message from your designer friend. After looking over the contract, they know exactly what's going on: there are three similar, but different fonts in there. Probably formatting leftovers from copying and pasting text from different Word docs.

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The importance of consistency

Consistency is the key to success in any business, and this applies to the use of fonts across your business materials. When your fonts are mismatched, it creates a sense of chaos and confusion that undermines your credibility. It shows you don't pay much attention to detail and calls your professionalism into question.

You might as well be the best there is in the business you're in, but that doesn't matter much if that's not how you're perceived. For potential clients, seeing is believing. And if you're not projecting an image of trust and professionalism, you've lost the deal before you even got the chance to send a proposal.

Making sure you're on point with your fonts

Now that you've seen how huge of an impact your typography has on your business, you're probably wondering how to make sure you're projecting the right image into the world. Calling in a typography expert or a designer is always the best option, but it might not be viable for you right now.

Luckily, you've come to Better Proposals, and we've already used the "phone a friend" lifeline. Here's how you make sure your fonts aren't ruining your image and credibility with expert tips by our designer, Hrvoje.

1. Think about your brand personality first

Just like colors, fonts resonate with people on a subconscious and emotional level. This is due to design, as well as historical and cultural context.

For example, design elements like width and letter curvature can make the font feel elegant, modern, serious, or playful. When it comes to historical context, serif fonts are connected to classic typography, whereas sans serif fonts are dominant for use on screens. 

In practical terms, this means we perceive serif fonts as traditional and formal, while sans serif fonts are seen as modern and clean. Finally, culture plays a role in font choices as well. For instance, a font inspired by calligraphy looks artistic and elegant, while a bold, display font looks more impactful and robust.

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Power tip by Hrvoje

"All fonts have their own personalities. They're a visual language that reflect your brand's tone, style, and mood."

2. Look for a font that's easy to read

If your business materials are difficult to read, it has a negative impact on user experience. If your audience finds it difficult to read your content due to a complex font, they might lose interest and navigate away.

What's more, using a readable font contributes to the overall professional appearance of your business. It shows attention to detail and consideration for your audience's experience.

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Power tip by Hrvoje

"To make sure your font is easy to read, compare the following lowercase letters side by side: d & b and n & u. If they look like the same letter, just rotated, you might want to consider a different font. Otherwise, you'll make reading difficult on people with visual impairments or reading difficulties."

3. You don't need to use all the fonts

Stick to two fonts at most (e.g., one for headers, one for body text) to maintain consistency and avoid a cluttered look. When pairing fonts, you have to hit a balance between contrast and similarity.

This means that, while you want some contrast to create a visually appealing hierarchy, you also want similarities to avoid clashing. Look for similarities in x-heights, proportions, or overall style to create an interesting, but consistent look.

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Power tip by Hrvoje

"If you're not a designer, it's best to avoid mixing and matching. Instead, stick to one font. You can still achieve hierarchy and create accents by playing around with colors, sizes, and weights."

4. Stay consistent across the board

Remember the contract with mismatched fonts example from earlier? Inconsistency in font usage across different materials undermines the professionalism of your brand.

For example, if you use one set of fonts on your website, but completely different ones in documents or on printed materials, it creates an inconsistent experience for customers. Different devices, screen sizes, and printing can affect how a font appears to users. What looks great on your website might be illegible on a business card.

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Power tip by Hrvoje

"Look for a font that works digitally, as well as in print. Fonts made for printing usually have more curvature than those meant for screens. These days, there are fonts that come in both variants (e.g., Neutra Display for screens and Neutra Text Book for printing)."

5. Never sacrifice readability for style

Even if you do everything perfectly when it comes to choosing fonts, your formatting could cost you. Since the structure of your text also has a huge impact on readability and perception, you have to make sure it's as easy on the eyes as your font.

As a rule of thumb, each text should have hierarchy. It's what helps guide readers through your content and helps you emphasize important information. That said, if everything is emphasized, then nothing is emphasized at all.

So, to create a good-looking visual hierarchy, stick to three levels in one context block max. In practical terms, this means a title, a subheading, and a paragraph block.

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Power tip by Hrvoje

"While formatting your text, pay attention to how it's aligned. In Western culture, left alignment is the easiest to read, the most difficult being right alignment. Avoid using justifying paragraphs if you're not using design software that lets you tweak the spacing manually."

Final thoughts

Fonts play a crucial role in creating a strong visual identity and establishing credibility in the eyes of your audience. Mismatched, inconsistently used fonts damage your professional reputation and make potential clients doubt your competence.

To avoid leaving a lasting negative impression on potential clients, make sure your font choices are on point. Take the time to carefully select the fonts that align with your business and use them consistently in all your business documents.

Better Proposals makes it easy - set up your brand fonts once, and they're automatically pulled into all your docs. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.

Not a designer? No problem.

With Better Proposals, you don't have to be a design wizard to bring the wow factor to your documents. Learn how with Proposal Design University.

Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.