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Finding Your Signature Font

August 25th, 2008 by Lauren · 9 Comments

A couple of people have emailed us lately to ask for details on the de-lovely script font we use on this here website*, and that got me thinking that perhaps it would be helpful to some of you if I shared a few of my favourite resources for researching and test-driving typefaces. I use these for my clients as well as personal projects, but for those of you considering designing your own logo, it’s well worth looking into a tried-but-true staple of DIY logo design: Purchase a fabulous font, and set your company name in said typeface. It’s simple, but if you choose the right font, you can’t go far wrong.

(Font: Buffet Script from Veer)

(Font: Buffet Script from Veer)

So: Let’s begin with type shops. Here are my faves:

  • Veer has one of the best type collections around, and their Flont tool (accessible from any typeface page on their website, once you sign up for a free account) lets you try before you buy. Don’t miss the Veer exclusives, especially Umbrella Type.
  • MyFonts is a near-encyclopedic site that’s simply amazing for finding type by keyword. They do sell fonts, but they also provide tons of information on fonts they don’t sell. There’s great cross-referencing here, so if for example you’re just discovering the genius of Zuzana Licko, you can follow the links to all her beautiful font designs. Like Veer, MyFonts offers a “try before you buy” feature that shows up as soon as you’re on a font’s page. But perhaps one of the most incredible tools they’ve got is “WhatTheFont“, an uncannily accurate tool that can decipher a font from a graphic you upload.
  • FontShop has an unbelievably stunning collection of fonts for sale. I subscribe to their newsletter, and every time it arrives in my inbox I sigh with delight. Case in point: Parisine, especially Parisine Plus Italic. See what I mean? [Sigh… So pretty.]

I’m leaving out a ton of my favourite type foundries here, because a) most of their fonts are sold through one of the above-listed sites, and b) I don’t want to overwhelm you. Believe you me, I could fill a book with this stuff.

Now that you’ve got your font in hand, what do you do with it? Well, first of all, it’s possible you may need to install a free piece of software in order to install your font. If, after downloading and opening your new font files, you don’t see the font in your font menu, you’d do well to install Adobe Type Manager, a nifty little utility that’ll help you organize and manage your fonts.

Got your font installed properly? Let’s proceed.

  1. The first step is to choose the right software. If you’ve got a copy of Illustrator, Fireworks, CorelDraw, or other vector graphics software, that’s perfect. I just heard about a free program called Inkscape that should work in theory, but I’ve never used it. Next in line would be something like Photoshop, but it’s less than ideal. If you don’t have the right software, ask around — chances are someone you know does, and can let you use their computer for this. Worst case scenario: Hie thee to Kinko’s — they usually have Illustrator on their computers, and you can pay a nominal hourly fee for use of their computers.
  2. Create a new document, select the Type tool, and type in your company name. Adjust the relative sizing, etc. as needed. (For example, in our corporate logo, “Raised Eyebrow” is big, and “Web Studio, Inc.” is smaller.)
  3. I recommend leaving colour out of this for the time being. Your logo will probably be reproduced in black and white in certain cases (faxes, for example, or B&W printouts of documents), and you want to make sure it looks good in those contexts. You can always add colour in later.
  4. You may want to experiment with a few different options. Print them out so you can see how they look in print, not just on a screen.
  5. Save the file(s), ideally as an EPS file — and while you’re at it, create yourself a PDF as well. Sometimes multiple formats come in handy.

Now that you’ve got your logo file, you can play with colour, and import it into whatever programs you need it for. Dead easy, and I guarantee that a simple logotype (that’s designer speak for a type-only logo) created with a well-designed typeface will put you ahead of 80% of your competition.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments. And if you find yourself the perfect typeface, I’d love to hear about it.

(*Are you one of those people who loves the script font we used for the graphics here? It’s Miss Fitzpatrick, designed by the incredibly talented young Argentinean designer Alejandro Paul; you can buy it through Veer.)

Tags: Business Advice · Entrepreneurial Inspiration · Resources for Women in Business

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 daisy janie / scoutie girl // Aug 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I know you have a cajillion ideas left out for this concise how-to, but I wanted to add http://www.fontifier.com. Here, you can create a font based on your own handwriting. Very cool. I played around with fonts til I couldn’t see straight, and finally wrote my biz name on a piece of paper, scanned it and vectorized it in Illustrator. Just the look I was going for.

    Great, great post here!!!

  • 2 Lauren // Aug 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Ooh, fun! Thanks, daisy janie. :)

  • 3 sarahelizabeth // Sep 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Wow this is great information!! thanks so much

  • 4 Lori Ann // Sep 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Someone asked me if there are any copyright issues with using a font, whether free or bought, and making it into a company logo. I have no idea. Do you have to ask for permission?

    Thanks for the post! I just stumbled this site.

  • 5 Lauren // Sep 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Hi, Lori Ann: I’m no lawyer, but as far as I know, copyright for typefaces only prevents you from distributing the font itself, not from creating works with it. So as I understand it, logos, books, cards, or anything you create with a font should not incur any further costs beyond the initial purchase cost of the font.

    Usually the licensing fees for fonts restrict their use to a set number of computers (typically a maximum of five). One thing to consider is that if you’re designing your company logo with a particular font, you may want to use that font in other contexts (e.g. text headings in any documents you produce, like invoices, proposals, etc.), so I would suggest you purchase enough licenses so that everyone in your company (as well as any consultants who might need copies of the font, such as graphic and/or web designers) can have it installed on their computers.

    Hope this helps — and if anyone has further information to add, or corrections to my comments, please post them here.

  • 6 Daniel Braha // Nov 7, 2008 at 9:02 am

    You have a great way of making it all so easy! Thanks

  • 7 Adele // Mar 17, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Your advice is quite useful as far as it goes, (sorry about this) BUT, I was really hoping you would go one stpe further and give some advice about how to actually choose the right font – once you see the options, was is a good criteria for actually picking the right one?

  • 8 Lauren // Mar 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Hi Adele – That’s a great question, with a really complex answer. It depends on your target audience, your brand, the types of marketing materials you’re going to be producing, and many other factors. At the risk of sounding pat, I’d suggest you pick up a copy of our book (at the library, if you don’t want to buy it) and read the marketing section — particularly chapters 5 & 6. We don’t talk specifically about fonts but we do talk about things to consider when having a logo designed.

    The other thing I would say is that the two mistakes I see people make vis-a-vis fonts are: 1) Choosing a font that looks great but isn’t legible (especially at small sizes — you definitely want your logo to look great and be readable, even when it’s tiny); and 2) following type trends and ending up with a logo that looks dated in five years or less. I’d advise avoiding the cool font that everyone’s using these days, unless your brand is incredibly trend-conscious.

  • 9 Graham Jupp // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:02 am

    I run a couple of DIY font creation sites that you guys might be interested in. If you make your own font you wont have any issues with copyright and you’ll have something that is unique.

    http://www.fontgrinder.com is for creating complete handwriting fonts in around 15 minutes.

    http://www.bingdat.com is ideal for Dingbat fonts and Signature Fonts. You can also use Bingdat to create a Drop Cap font. Hope you guys find the sites useful.

    Cheers from Australia.

    Graham