While discussing the aesthetics of a library program promotion, my supervisor made this comment:
“Their graphic designer never met a font they didn’t like.”
This issue, of course, begs the question: how many fonts are too many?
It’s generally agreed that two to three is the maximum that any brand should use. Not per item, or even per campaign. Your library should use only two to three for everything across the board. Belt Creative sums it up:
“Keep in mind that ideally, you should stick to two or three fonts in total for your brand. If your main font is something highly stylized, and will be used sparingly, you can choose a font for headers and one for your body font. Otherwise, two fonts are adequate.”
This means that your library should possibly have a font used in the logo, one for headers, and one for body or regular copy text. That’s it. And those fonts should be used in those ways only, for pretty much everything. Yes, that’s limiting your creativity. Your library’s brand identity is far more important than indulging your inner child who wants to run amok with Canva.
But, Laura, what about specialized display fonts?
Look, I used to be a children’s librarian. I get wanting to use fun display fonts. What am I referring to? Something like this:
To be honest, I think there is still a place for these. They can indicate a specific emotion or mood, which is what good graphic design pieces are supposed to do. Here’s a few rules to follow when using display fonts:
- Use them very, very sparingly. These should always be the exception on a piece. Not only to keep your library’s branding consistent, but they will attract more attention because they are the outliers in the graphic.
- Still rely on your library’s specified fonts. Clearly, the font in your library’s logo isn’t going anywhere. For everything else though, be sure to use the header and body fonts. Remember, that display font is a special, one-time thing.
- Choose carefully. There are some fonts that will cause people to cringe on sight. Avoid these, as they will be a hit to your library’s credibility.
I’m not a professional graphic designer, and I know that many libraries don’t have one on staff. That’s why some basic knowledge and awareness of what the pros do is so important.