Picking the right typography


How do you choose the typography that is used for your marketing and sales materials? Do you choose the font style that you like the best personally? Do you look for one that goes with the rest of your graphic imaging for the brand? Do you just leave it up to your graphic designer? Believe it or not, the typography you choose can make a big difference.

Slanted text vs. upright

A February 2020 study published by the Journal of Retailing shows that picking the right typography can make a significant difference in the results of limited time sales promotions.

In the study, participants were shown two print ads that were identical except for the font. Both promoted a limited-time offer for a $10 promotional credit for every $50 gift card purchase. One one ad, the font was Times New Roman and on the other it was italic Times New Roman. Participants who viewed the italicized ad thought that the promotion had a much sooner expiration date than those who saw the same ad with a regular vertical font.

Another similar experiment had two ads for a Mexican restaurant limited time promotion, with one of the ads using an italicized font. When asked when they planned to visit the restaurant, most of those who saw the ad with the italicized font said they intended to visit the restaurant sooner than the group who saw the ad with the regular font.

A third experiment used email for a limited time offer of $4 for a $5 value gift card, with a link to claim the offer. Some of the recipients got the email with a regular font and others got it with a slanted font. The vast majority of the people who responded to the ad were in the group who got the italicized message.

So the bottom line is that using italics can:

  • Increase the sense of urgency in regard to a promotion
  • Speed up intent to purchase
  • Increase response rate

From a neuromarketing perspective, the rightward slant of italicized text signals the need to act quickly when paired with a limited-time promotion. This could be because it activates FOMO (fear of missing out) or because it visually suggests movement and speed and activates viewers’ mirror neurons.

Upper case vs. lower case

In regard to typography, lowercase text is more legible, more inviting and easier and quicker to read and understand. Uppercase text is commonly used in announcements and headlines. Text in all caps is considered to be the equivalent of shouting or yelling in online contexts. Because of these subconscious feelings, people associate lowercase brands with friendliness, while uppercase brands communicate authority. Unsurprisingly, people subconsciously associate lowercase brands with femininity and upper case brands with masculinity.

Another experiment involving typography effectiveness looks at the role of letter case on purchase intention. The study identified gender of consumption benefits as an important factor. This refers not to the gender of the buyer, but rather to the use or benefits of the product. Feminine consumption benefits were those that were associated with feminine goals such as looking slim as compared to masculine goals like building muscle. Feminine benefits also included things directly related to the feminine gender such as breast health or getting pregnant.

The study found that men were more likely to buy products with masculine consumption benefits when the brand name used a combination of upper and lowercase letters or all uppercase letters, while women were more likely to buy products with feminine consumption benefits if the brand name was presented in all lowercase text.

Other important aspects of typography are readability and psychological associations. For example, Times New Roman and other serif fonts convey a sense of tradition and reliability, while rounder, nonserif fonts like Helvetica look clean and unfussy. Script fonts like Edward Script communicate formality and creativity, while modern fonts like Century Gothic portray your company as forward thinkers with flare.

Find out more about the importance of typography here.

Knowing your audience and how their minds process visual information will help you to be a more effective marketer. Contact Pro Creative to help you create uniquely effective marketing for your company.