There is a lot of typeface snark from the design community. Yeah, it’s just a font! It seems super trivial. But when it comes to your business or your brand, a font can communicate a lot more than the actual words you write.
As with all things design—it’s about more than personal preference. You might think a swirly script typeface is pretty; that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your serious law office’s letterhead. So when a designer scoffs at a font choice, it’s not only because they “don’t like it.”
One of the worst mistakes businesses make is picking a really common, distinctive, overused typeface. Think any font that comes standard with Microsoft Office. The average consumer doesn’t know anything about typefaces, much less the name of the font that is actually being used. But because they’ve seen it repeatedly (on lunch menus sent home from daycare, coupons they get in the mail, office memos) they subconsciously recognize it as a lower-budget business or product. Worst case scenario, it looks unprofessional and cheap. Ouch.
Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat. It’s been said many times in many colorful ways. Comic sans wins the award for most overused AND most inappropriate font choice. Let the grade school teachers have this one. It’s never okay to use Comic Sans for your business. If you need more assurance, check here, here, here, here, or here.
2. Bleeding Cowboys
Bleeding Cowboys was the high-waisted, acid washed jeans of the mid 2000s. Everybody loved it. And then everybody tried to destroy all evidence of ever having used it. Let this bleeding cowboy die already. You can join the movement here.
If Bleeding Cowboys was the acid washed jeans, Scriptina was the mile-high hair and tight perms. When the free, magically loopy font was released, people loved Scriptina and it was EVERYWHERE. Two local businesses in my town used it for their logos. Haaaay, brand confusion!
If you remember one font to avoid, please let it be this one. Papyrus is worse than comic sans in my book. I don’t care if you sell essential oils and healing crystals. Walk. Away.
5. Curlz MT
I know you think Curlz MT is girly and fun and hey, it’s already on your computer. It’s also really hard to read and impossible to take seriously.
6. Bradley Hand ITC
This is the story of a type designer whose handwriting has been seen by every human alive. Originally intended to add a personal touch, this overused typeface now has the opposite affect.
7. Viner Hand
Another case of type designer handwriting gone bad. Is it just me, or does Viner Hand personified totally rock an emo swoop and heavy eyeliner?
I cringe when a good restaurant uses this font in their menus. It physically hurts me.
9 Brush Script
As seen on postcards, little league uniforms, and award certificates everywhere. People generally use Brush Script to class things up. If you want a more professional look, use a less common font or hire a calligrapher.
Do I really need to explain this one? Even if you’re writing a real ransom note there are better options.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. There are tons of cheap or free options online. Steer away from the standard fonts that are already on your computer and you’ll be one step ahead of the next guy.