I wanted to briefly touch down on this topic. I recently wrote a chapter for my Twitch branding book on the topic of font and typography for your Twitch brand. I wanted to give you a condensed version of that here since it feels as if it’s needed.
For the past years we’ve for sure seen a lot of changes in how fonts and typography is used. However Twitch, still being such a young place, and a lot of times fonts and typography are set by those that don’t really know anything about fonts, font weight, typography or even what the difference between all of that is. While I don’t think you need to study it. I will always recommend reading up on it.
What I’ve mostly observed with font usage (and let’s use that word since in web since that’s what we’re talking about) is that it’s mostly taken as “This is cool, I want to be cool” choice direction. Now this tends not only be for streamers but even for those “designers” that sell overlays for a 10-30USD. I’ve even seen it by those that tend to be more reputable.
There’s nothing wrong with growth or trial by fire. However these designers are playing with your brand. A font is as much design as anything else in your visual brand. They say certain things about you and the same that a visual brand shouldn’t be “cool” for the sake of being “cool” neither should the font.
It’s when designers (also it’s more about proper experience than just amount of time) or amateurs have a arsenal of fonts that the real issues begins. If you can’t master 3-4 great fonts you can’t master other fonts. Too often do we see fonts used that have no relevance or are badly used. At times these fonts aren’t even well designed. That in itself becomes and that issue and even a more blaring issue when it’s badly used by the user.
To say that these are the only problems would be a lie. However it’s a start. Looking at them and auditing if you’ve picked the right font can really up your overall brand.
How to fix the problem
As I said there’s a lot more problems with how most designers around Twitch and streamers themselves approach fonts for their brand. However we can start with the to easiest ones to fix.
The first thing that you need to look at is to not look at fonts as something that’s only there to look cool. They actually fill a function. The easiest way to show this is to look at Comic Sans and Times New Roman. Two classic fonts that when applied right works. However if you switch them they’re going to feel a bit off. If you ever feel as a streamer’s Twitch page is a bit off it might actually be the font choice. It’s less about style and more about using a font that can relay the right message. While it might sound as if they’re the same there’s a small difference there.
To make it easier on yourself or your clients for that matter. Stick to only a handful of professionally created fonts. Yes that most of the time means not to go to something like dafont or similar sites. There’s a ton of “best fonts of all time” lists out there. These tends to be fonts that have stood the test of time and has a lot of flexibility. Too many times I hear “but it’s already been used” or “I want something different”. Trust me none of those things will make you stand out when it comes to fonts, or for that matter in a lot of other scenarios. What really will make you standout is having a brand that is properly setup and has the potential to reach the people that the brand was made for.
When you’ve been playing around with fonts for awhile and understood the fundamentals. You can try to wade into searching for “best fonts of 2016” or any other year. This will give you some pretty good lists and ideas over the trends and what’s new out there. Still even if these tend to be professionally made all of them are not and on top of that some are demos. Make sure that they come with the proper licence so that you can use them for your brand.
There’s tons of books on typography and fonts out there. Books that are new and books that are old, I personally own both new ones and classics. Don’t ignore these resources and think that you’re better than that or that you’re going to think outside of the box. I can promise you that your brand will look and feel a lot better if you follow the rules when you start. And as you have a better grasp you can safely play with those rules.
If the designer that you have in mind to do your brand don’t have a proper understanding of typography that should be a warning sign.
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