Real life font experiments
In 2012, the New York Times ran a two-part article for their online publication. The first part was a scientific study that compared pessimism to optimism, and the second part was a quiz designed to test whether or not the online readers believed the study’s findings. While this may sound pretty straightforward, there was actually an ulterior motive going on behind the scenes. The real purpose of the article was actually to determine what font readers found to be most trustworthy. To discover this, the same article was ran in six different fonts: Comic Sans, Baskerville, Georgia, Computer Modern, Helvetica and Trebuchet. When all was said and done, the readers who believed the study most, read the article in the Baskerville font. So why is this? According to professor David Dunning of Cornell University, Baskerville has a British quality of solemnity and formality that creates trustworthiness.
While Baskerville can develop trust, some fonts can also enhance credibility. For example, one study (performed by the researchers Hyunjin Song and Norbet Schwartz) found that restaurant goers who were given menus with fancier fonts, perceived the chef as more skilled. However, a similar study performed by the same researchers tested fancier fonts in another setting: when giving out written instructions. The participants in the study who were given an assignment written in fancier fonts, assumed it would take them nearly twice as long to complete the task.
The point is you should consider who your customers are before choosing the font of your marketing materials. The correct font will influence the way your customers perceive your business and therefore help you achieve your marketing goals.
Fonts are adaptable
Once you’ve chosen a font, you can also adapt it to your liking. In fact, big businesses do this all the time. For example LinkedIn uses Myriad Pro as their base font. The company then adapted the font by making it bolder and decreasing the space between the letters. PayPal uses Verdana as the base font for their logo and have slightly adapted it by rounding the edges of the font’s letters and opening up the space inside the ‘a’ letters. As a final example, Absolut Vodka uses Futura as the base font in their logo lettering. To the untrained eye, it may appear the font is unaltered, however, if you look closer you’ll notice that Absolut adds tiny serifs to the letters of this font, creating a more dynamic feel.