How do I choose the right font for my Brand (Part 2)

 

How to choose the right font for your brand part 2

 

Carrying on from Part 1 here, in which we looked at things to watch out for when choosing a font (like why you would pay for one when there’s so many for free), here we’re digging into the specifics of font shapes, and how/why they convey the feeling they do.

Let’s have a look at a couple of fonts in detail.

You know that serif fonts are the ones with little ‘feet’, and as a group, they generally convey ideas such as “classic” and “conservative”. But what if you have a business personality that is classic, AND dynamic? You want something with a bit more pizazz.

 

font - alegreya.regular

 

Alegreya is certainly classic. But there’s something a bit more interesting about it, right? Let’s look closer.

font - alegreya caps - details

 

All the corners are crisply finished; this gives us ideas of precision and attention to detail. Anything with diagonals is perceived as ‘active’,  and nearly all the serifs are not only finished diagonally, but are parallel. Strong uprights such in the “L” and “E” are evenly tapered, slightly thicker at the top, and the tail on the “Q” is generous. Altogether, the strong alignment, the crisp corners and smooth tapers convey ideas of well-organised, strong, and systematic, while the kicks on the serifs and the inclusion of diagonals conveys sharp innovation.

 

font - knorke - details

 

Knorke is also a serif font, and in many ways classic. HOWEVER, it’s a totally different kettle of fish to Alegreya. Knorke is trickier, more lively, and even a teensy bit subversive. Look closely, and you’ll see uneven serifs, wobbly tapers, unaligned strokes, and outlines aren’t smooth. It also has no crisp corners; it looks a bit stocky and a touch overweight, like Mundungus Fletcher. All adding to that feeling of being a little bit less predictable.

 

Add a bit of fun

Of course, if you want to be totally subversive, go all-out whacky with your font. If you just want to add a bit of humour, you might want to try something like these –

font - boingo

font - eskargot

Note that each of these fun fonts includes tightly wound curls – it’s a whimsical and lavish flourish that’s both generous and friendly. The roundness of Boingo, its curves in both serifs and uprights and the fact that it ignores the baseline (the imaginary horizontal line that all the letters sit on), all add to its loud, bouncy, upbeat nature. Great for if you’re selling kids toys.

Eskargot on the other hand, is a bit quieter. It sits well on its baseline, and its uprights are straighter (although not quite…). It’s still very definitely funky and upbeat, with uneven strokes, slightly off angles, and crooked lines making it look fresh and lively. You might want to try something similar if you’re selling unconventional jewellery, or even cute plants.

 

 

So, next time you’re agonising over “WHICH FONT?”, stop; zoom in, and take a much closer look. Look for angles/straightness, look for look for tapers/parallels, look for smoothness/unevenness – and think hard about how all that makes you feel.

 

One last word for today. Don’t use the fonts that came on your computer for any of your graphics (you know the ones I mean – Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, and the like) – they’re about as interesting as a stale biscuit. And don’t EVER use Comic Sans. For anything. Because it’s ugly.

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Stay tuned! After a question from Jess on my Facebook page recently, next week we’ll be talking about how to pair fonts – for when you need more than one to say what you have to say. There are definitely techniques to this! 

If there’s something YOU’D like to see here, or any questions you’re curious about, drop a comment and ask me here, I’d love to help out.

See you next time, Julie x

 

Fonts : How do I match my font to my brand? (Part1)

how to choose fonts part 1

{photo by Kien Do, licensed under CC0}

 

You know there’s a squillion fonts out there. How do you choose? Just pick something you like?

 

Well sure you can!

 

However, it’s super important to keep in mind a number of things. Like, WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE USED FOR?

If you’re going to write a simple document for instance, there’s no need to get fancy. You can create hierarchy in text easily with a single typeface; just using all caps, italics, bold, and varying the size will be all that you need to do.

When it comes to branding however, you’ll need something a little bit fancier. Consider this too: if you don’t have a logo as such, you can absolutely use your biz name in a particular font as your logo (Myer does this; so do lots of other companies).

The first thing to consider is all the places you might be using that fancy font – business cards, shop banner, website, packaging, letterheads, … the list goes on. Now, some fonts are so fancy that they become difficult to read – so where and how it’s used has a big impact on what you should choose. When it comes to website headers or shop banners for instance, readability becomes less important. But if you’re including contact details or technical information… well, you want people to read that easily, don’t you?

 

So just where do you find good fonts? I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating. So –

FREE FONTS

There are heaps of free fonts available from numerous sites. Here’s a few, but there’s plenty more – www.dafont.comwww.1001freefonts.comwww.fontsquirrel.comfontfabric.com.

There are a couple of things to watch out for if you’re getting a free font. The number one thing is to check the licensing conditions, as they vary from font to font and designer to designer.

Some fonts only come with a free licence if you’re using them for personal use (birthday party invites and the like) but won’t allow commercial usage (which is what you’ll be wanting if you’re using it for your business).

Also, watch out as some fonts are only offered as samples and don’t have the whole character set – very annoying, if not impractical. Look not only for missing letters, but also for punctuation, accented letters, fractions, etc. Some designers might forget characters because of inexperience, or because they’re simply slack, or even because they want to get them onto the free sites as an advertisement to get you to buy the full set.

If you want one of the free fonts spend some time filtering through and reading the licence conditions and get those with a commercial or open source licence if you want to use them in your branding.

You can also make your own font from your handwriting if you like. Try these sites such as www.myscriptfont.com or www.paintfont.com.

 

PAID FONTS

Like many things in life, you often get what you pay for. Because sites like dafont are free and anybody can upload, there’s a lot of bad stuff on there. (There’s good stuff as well, it’s just harder to find.)

When you buy a font from a designer, you’re not only supporting another artist, you’re generally making a leap in quality. There is a much wider array of styles to choose from, and you’ll most probably get a font family  – variations on the central font, which can be useful when creating a hierarchy in your text (headings, sub-headings, etc. And you’ll usually get all the characters). There are often also subtle differences in quality, like the kerning (space between each letter) and the size of various elements within each letter, which has a big impact on readability and making the font lovely to look at.

 

 

OK! Now down to the nitty gritty. How do you match your font to your biz?

Aesthetics

Of course, it’s all to do with aesthetics.

Firstly, be wary of following the latest trend – they may have a short life span and can quickly become dated-looking. That’s OK if you’re using them for short term things (e.g. ads), but you don’t really want to throw out those 500 business cards you just bought last month, now do you?

So beyond issues of readability and trendiness, it comes down to choosing something that you like that ALSO fits with your biz personality.

Briefly, there are several style groupings for fonts, including text fonts (those that are used for everyday writing, and are designed for maximum readability – e.g Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica) and display fonts (these are the fancy ones for headings).

Display fonts

Big fat fonts with square ends are called slab fonts, and look masculine and modern. Script fonts are slanted and flowing like old-fashioned handwriting – they look elegant and timeless. Handwritten script fonts mimic modern handwriting, and are pretty casual. Condensed fonts (those that look tall and squished) are more tough and authoritative, and of course there are those super-fancy fonts that are a heap more expressive. For instance, curly and uneven convey whimsy; and there are those that refer to things we’re already familiar with like cowboy-style Western, starship-enterprisey space age, or fat 70s groovy.

There’s heaps to cover (including what not to do) and I’d like to do that justice without making this post overly lengthy, so I’ll go into more depth comparing different styles in next week’s post. But while you’re waiting, check out these great infographics I found on FastCoDesign – especially the section at the top identifying some of the different typefaces, and the “What’s it Saying” section –  (and yes they’re not perfect and they do come in for a bit of criticism in the comments, but they’re still a great introduction).

 

If you’ve got any burning questions on fonts, I’d love to hear them!
Besides a deeper analysis of styles next week, where I’ll also talk about how the little touches can make all the difference, I’m also planning a post on pairing font styles for your biz, so stay tuned for that too.

See you next week!
(update: You can find part 2 here – it gets into the stylistic details of each LETTER and how those angles, extensions and curls can all convey personality. Fun!)

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 2)

perfect colour 2

 

What was your favourite colour as a kid? Mine was always yellow – I couldn’t finish colouring in a picture unless it had some yellow in it somewhere; it always just looked dull. These days, I’m much more open to all the colour combinations; each palette has its own particular mood to convey (but notice I’ve still got yellow in my branding, haha).

Carrying on from last week’s post (here), we continue looking at the multitude of ways you can use to come up with the perfect palette for YOUR brand.

You can make your own palette from scratch in various ways. As noted in the last post,  ColourLovers.com is a great place to go and play with colour. They’ve got a great online community there too, so you can share the palettes you’ve made, AS WELL AS apply them to patterns … also made by you! (and others. Go on, it’s totally addictive.)

HTMLcolorcodes.com  is a modern take on colour pickers, and it’s a bit geeky if that’s your thing. It provides you with the ability to make up you own palettes from scratch, and gives you auto options to choose more colours by changing the criteria (e.g. complementary, triadic, tetradic, etc), so I do feel it comes from a designer’s perspective, and assumes that you already have some knowledge of colour. Having said that, it does include some very nice tools, colour charts, and tutorials on using colour within HTML, CSS, and SCSS.

 

Extracting colour from a photo

One of my very favourite methods of getting a great palette is to find an image that really, really nails who and what your brand is. (It doesn’t matter if it’s not your image – you’re just using it for inspiration, and this exercise is a totally private one.) When you extract the colours from an image like that, it should be pretty darn close to the perfect palette for you. For example, if your biz personality is bright and fun, and you’ve got an image of a fairground on a sunny day, chances are you’ll find the colours that you need right there.

If it’s already a digital image, great. If not, get it onto your screen somehow. Next, go to any one of the many colour picker sites online – such as pictaculous.com, cssdrive.com, Lokesh Dhakar’s color-thief or palettefx.com. However, my fave picker is Adobe’s, at color.adobe.com and you’ll see why in a minute. (ALL of these generators will provide you with at least the hex-code of your colour – this is the 6-digit identifying number (denoted by the hash key #) so that you’ll always get EXACTLY the same colour every time you use it.)

Start by loading up your photo (on color.adobe, the link to load is at the bottom of the page), and let the generator do its thing. Now in Adobe, the big advantage is that once you’ve loaded up the image, it will show you the points it’s used for sampling – and you can move them around to tweak your palette. Alternatively, you can change the ‘mood’ from the drop-down menu on the left. Once you’re happy, you can either save it (if you’re an Adobe member), or click on the little colour-wheel icon on the right and it will take you to the colour wheel, where you can tweak some more, or just find the hex codes for the colours you’ve got. Easy peasy!

 

colourpicker1

using the adobe colour picker

 

colourpicker3

using the adobe colour picker

 

Some basic colour theory

There is OOOODLES of stuff about the theory of colour out there, and really, you don’t need to know anything beyond the basics.

The technical terms you will find most helpful are these –

* Hue is pure colour, and includes all the colours in the spectrum (red, green, blue, etc).

* Value is to do with how dark and light it is – from almost white to almost black.

* Saturation is to do with how pure the colour is – it runs in a scale from the purest colour, through to almost entirely grey. (Consider also, that each hue has a different value – red is much darker than yellow, and that is why when you change the saturation on each of those colours, a different grey value will result.)

 

 

 

 

yellow saturationred saturation

 

 

Start with the colour wheel, you The most basic method of choosing colours is to start by looking at the hue i.e. pure colour), and the relationships that you can form around the colour wheel.

 

colourwheel 500px

 

One method of choosing colour is to use balance. Pick two colours directly opposite, you’ve got balance. Make a symmetrical triangle, and you’ve got balance. Make a square or rectangle, and you’ve got balance. Tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ll still have balance.

 

Another method is to choose colours next to each other on the wheel – because they’ve got a hue in common, they’ll look good together. Again, tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ve got yourself a useful palette.

analogous

 

As noted, there are TONS of ways you can come up with colour; it entirely depends on your brand and what mood you want to convey, that fits your business personality.

 

A last word on choosing colours for branding.

A very important thing to remember when you’re choosing colours for your palette is that these colours will be used for all sorts of things – text, backgrounds, borders on images, highlights, buttons….. and so much more. SO you’ll need to make sure it’s a useful palette. Ensure you include at least one dark colour, and one light colour, and that there is enough contrast between the different combinations.

OK, have fun!

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Oh, and p.s., I would LOVE you to tell me what your fave colour was as a kid, and if it’s still your fave now. Do you use it in your biz brand? Or would you consider it for your brand? Leave me a comment below, and tell me what your biz is, too! 

 

Colour-junkie Julie x

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 1)

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand

the perfect colour

 

I’ve loved colour forever. I used to spend hours dressing up my barbie dolls in fabulous costumes imagined out of scraps from my mother’s sewing. I wouldn’t make up stories for the dolls; of them going shopping, or being school teachers, or of being whisked away to a fabulous ball by a handsome stranger. No; I would simply sit there and try pattern against pattern, colour against colour. For hours.

Which all just goes to give you an idea of how crippled I was when I was trying to choose colours for my site. OMG, what the hell do I choose? I love …. everything….  .

More on me later.

 

You know, colour is just about THE biggest identifying feature people see when they first look at something, and can be a major consideration when they purchase something (acid green two piece suit, anyone?). And although I’m not suggesting that people won’t visit your site/read your blog because it’s not their favourite shade of blue, it’s still a pretty important factor in conveying the right mood – one that is not only expressive of your brand’s values and attitudes, but more importantly, one that’s in line with your audience’s expectations.

 

The Meanings of Colours

Now before I go too much further, I want to talk a bit about the meanings of colours. I would like to emphasise that colours have a wide range of meanings which vary from culture to culture and also with context, so don’t get bogged down in them. For instance, in Western cultures, red sometimes means danger, but in other contexts it is associated with Christmas. In China, it often symbolises good fortune and happiness, while in other cultures red is the symbol of mourning.

Here’s some very broad generalisations that may be used when it comes to branding (but don’t take them as gospel).

Blues and darker colours are often perceived at trustworthy and solid (think banks).

Blues and greens are seen as calming, especially pastel hues of mint and aqua.

Greens and browns are seen as earthy and natural.

Red especially, but also orange and yellow are often thought of as active colours.

Tertiary colours such as magenta (red-violet) and lime (yellow-green) are usually thought of as more youthful, fun colours.

I’ll stop there, because as I said these are broad generalisations, and in each case it also depends on how vivid the colour is, how light or dark it is, and what other colours it’s used with. (I’ll go over a bit of colour-combining basics for websites in the next post too.)

 

Stop crippling yourself and start choosing

How do YOU feel about colour? Same as me – like you’re stuck when it comes to choosing colours for your brand, because everything looks wonderful? Or, you find a great palette and love the colours, but it’s just not pinpointing the mood you’re looking for? Or, maybe you think you have very little confidence with colour, and just feel plain scared?

You know, it really doesn’t matter why you have difficulties choosing colour – the end result is the same; and that is that you can’t settle on anything. Fortunately, there’s a solution (or even two or three).

 

Work with your business personality

It helps if you have a clear vision of the mood/personality of your brand (so you know what mood you’re going to project). If you don’t, than have a stab at this – write a list of half a dozen words or more personality traits that you would like your brand to express. (Better still, read this article in order to get a grip on your business personality.) You can start with masculine or feminine, young or mature, then get a bit more specific with descriptors such as dreamy, modern, dramatic, or sentimental.

Next, keep those words in mind and go searching through places like ColourLovers.com or Design Seeds, and try and match your mood words to the colour palette you’ve chosen. These places have thousands of pre-made palettes that you can use for anything you want. Each palette lists the hex codes for each colour, so you can recreate them for yourself.

I especially like the Design Seeds palettes – although Jessica tends to create palettes based around gentle images of flowers, nature, and weathered textures, she has a great eye for extracting the colour essence out of a picture. (Each image is linked to the original post if you’d like to find out colour codes).

 

design seeds - flora hues

design seeds – flora hues

 

design seeds - color heaven

design seeds – color heaven

 

design seeds - color set

design seeds – color set

 

I know not everyone is as skilled as Jessica! Don’t fret – there are other ways you can find your own palette too; I’ll get to them in the next post.

So for now, I want you to go exploring. If you’ve found a palette you LOVE and want to show it off, leave a link in the comments. If you’d like suggestions for your website/blog/shop, leave a link and we can all have a look and make suggestions!

Oh, and my blog’s palette? Yes, this blog’s been through a few renovations and reincarnations. Fortunately, I’ve finally settled on something. Hells, it’s a rainbow of sorts – I just can’t help myself.

 

tractorgirl proportional palette

 

J x

 

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{edit: You can read Part 2 on choosing the perfect colours here.}

Looking for your ideal customer? Here’s where to find them

looking for your ideal customer

 

OK, so you’ve got a fabulous product that you’re head and heels totally in love with and you can’t stop talking about it.

But you know, there’s one thing missing. HAVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED YOUR CUSTOMER?

When you aim for everything you hit nothing, so they say. If you try to appeal to everyone, then you’re appealing to no one.

The only real way to have a product that sells is for it to solve a problem for your customer, fill a need, or make them feel great about themselves. (And you can figure out who they are here.) Ask yourself what does your product or service help them with (for instance, if you’re a fine art photographer, your product helps them with their interior design; or if you sell baby clothes, you make them feel great by having a well-dressed baby). You absolutely need to get inside your potential customer’s head and figure out what it is that they’re wanting. And to do this, you need to be as specific as possible about who they are. (Yes, there is definitely trial and error and a certain amount of guesswork in this. But the more you do business with them, the more you’ll find out about them, so just keep going.) And when you know who they are and what they want, you can start to speak their language, and ask them the questions they’re asking themselves.

Because when you speak the same language, when you have the same world view as them, you automatically make an emotional connection and that’s the key to turning them into paying customers. You’ve built up rapport and trust. And when you deliver what they want, they’re so thrilled with what you do that they not only become return customers, but they spread the word about how fantastic you are. 

Ba-BAM! Business explosion! Right?

Hmmm yes well it’s all very good in theory, but WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU FIND THOSE DAMN CUSTOMERS? You can have THE best product in the world – one that’s going to end global poverty, keep the oceans free from waste, and make small children excited about keeping their rooms tidy – but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point?

You need to get out there and find those customers.

SO here are my top seven tips for searching out and connecting with your tribe.

  1. Facebook groups – Listen, as much as you hear all the time that FB “isn’t worth the effort” because they limit and fuss around with what everybody gets to see in their feed, I absolutely believe that it’s still worth getting in there and using it – for all sorts of different reasons. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use it!How FB decides what goes into people’s feeds is based on a number of factors, pretty much centred around how active the group/page is.  So if you’re in there posting every day, AND your people are commenting and liking on your posts, then your posts will be shown to more and more people. The trick is to make your posts engaging for your people – ask them about themselves (because people love talking about themselves); ask provocative questions (only if they’re relevant); entertain them with a (relevant) beautiful or amusing image.The bonus is that by asking questions, you find out heaps more about the folk who DO like your page! Use that knowledge to fine-tune your ideal customer profile.”But I only have a tiny FB following” you moan! Well I say, have you invited all of your FB friends to like your page? Your family? Asked your close friends if they mind sharing your page with their friends? Posted links to your FB page on your website? On other social media? Round ’em up, get them engaged, post shareable content, and you are well on your way to growing your following.

    JOIN OTHER FB GROUPS. Have you engaged in other groups to let them know who you are and what you’re doing? It doesn’t have to be all icky push and salesy (and it’s better if you aren’t) – many business groups have set days where you encouraged to share what you do and what you’re offering (for instance #PromoThursday), and sometimes people straight-out ask for particular services in these groups too – so make sure you’re around and can put your hand up! Search some hashtags to find relevant conversations about what you’re doing – this will not only allow you to see what people are asking for in your niche (so you can help tailor your services), but you can also find other groups to join. Win-win!

  2. Twitter and Instagram. Use the same strategy with your other social media –  Follow others AND ENGAGE WITH THEM, offer up good content, and use the hashtags – they’re a great search tool for finding other conversations that are happening in your niche.
  3. Pinterest – is not really ‘social’ media in the same sense that the other three biggies are. If you use it, think about how often you actually engage with the people you follow – hardly ever, right? It’s primarily a search tool for finding stuff you’re interested in (especially pretty stuff). BUT, it’s still a rich source of information about your potential customers – use the search tool to see what others are pinning, and particularly what has been pinned from your website – this will give you the best ideas about what your customers actually DO love the most (so you can keep doing more of it. You can find yourself by using www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com – and seeing what pops up.
  4. Use search engines. Google your business’s keywords and see what other conversations you can find from potential customers. You might find a great forum, or another fantastic website with a heap of interesting comments. Depending on what you find, you can join in the discussion and help out with excellent advice – people will love you for it.
  5. Guest blog about your area of expertise on a site you admire. Reach for the stars – go the Huffington Post if you dare!  If you’re not quite there yet, simply look around at the sites that you love reading and approach them for guest posting opportunities. Some don’t accept guest posts and that’s OK, but many do. Once you’ve found a site you’d like to try, make sure you do 5 minutes research and find out the name of the person you need to be writing to. I DON’T open emails that start with “Hello blogowner”, and rarely open ones that start with “Hi there”. But if it’s got “Hi Julie”, I’ll read it.Keep your proposal short and sweet – start with why you love their blog, what area of expertise you have, and a couple of suggestions for topics that are closely aligned with THEIR audience.  You might like to include a couple of links to your best articles. Be beautiful, be polite and say thank you for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them. And follow up – if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, contact them again with a short, polite reminder, because hey, sometimes things get put aside and forgotten! We’re all human.
  6. Reach out to other people in your niche for a collaboration. Find others with complementary skills/products – what can you do to collaborate? How can you benefit both audiences with a super valuable offer? Join forces, brainstorm, get it out there and you’ve doubled your audience! Magic.
  7. Start up a mailing list. Probably THE best strategy ever for connecting with your customers. You know that if they sign up to your list, they’re already interested in what you do. So make sure you have plenty of opportunities for them to do so – on your website sidebar, on your “About” page, and on your “Contact” page.And reward them for it. Most people don’t bother signing up to a list that merely promises “regular updates” (unless of course you’re Seth Godin). If you’re selling products, you could offer to put them in a draw for a prize each month, or you could write a short e-book on your area of expertise. If you’re a jeweller for instance you could offer your best tips and tricks on looking after jewellery, and/or how to look after it while travelling. If you’re a portrait photographer, you could offer a round-up of your best tips on how to prepare for a shoot – what to wear, makeup, choosing a location, how lighting can effect the mood of your shoot, etc. If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple matter of offering an intro or brief version of one of your paid courses.

 

So that’s it! There are LOTS of different ways of searching out and connecting with those beautiful customers; you’ve just got to put in the time.

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BACK TO YOU! Have you found some innovative ways to connect with your customers? What’s your best customer-connection story? I’d love to hear! Pop a comment in the box below, share your biz name and how you’ve connected, and you never know – you might just connect with some other great people here too!

Julie x