Typefaces and Fonts for Startups

How do you navigate using fonts and typefaces in your startup?

April 16, 2020

Let's set a boundary here: the design elements of your startup can change and evolve as your company grows. As such, the earlier your startup, the simpler the solution. As you grow and scale, things can get more dynamic. This article is dedicated to new startups that are experimenting on their own and have found choosing fonts to be a hurdle.

I'd imagine the scenario that led you to this article is something along these lines: you're putting together pitch decks, business cards, websites, etc. and you feel like you have to pick a new font every time. It's draining and you're not even sure if you're picking a good one for your brand.

The solution? Pick one, generic, easy-to-read typeface and use it everywhere.

Yep. Skip over mulling through MyFonts or TypeKit and use something that has been around for a while as a starting point.

Some recommendations:

Helvetica

Avenir

Futura

Montserrat (this one is free)

"But Zach, I want something unique and pertinent to my brand."

Yes, you do, but you're not ready yet if you can't afford to hire an in-house designer or outside consultant to even define your brand. Your goal right now is to appear trustworthy and dependable to investors and customers. Trying to choose unique typefaces will end poorly and hinder you from getting you to a point where you can pay someone to take this off your plate.

Pick a typeface from any of the above, use a bold, regular, and light versions, and play with hierarchy and scale to create compositions.

More you say?

Perpetual Motion

Deciding when design is and is not a one-and-done game.

7.9.2020

If you plan on having an element of your brand identity for a long time, say your name or your logo, it's imperative to research and make sure it will stand the test of time. Reason being that you want names and logos to be around for a while. You shouldn't push out these elements unless you're prepared to have them stick around for years.

However, when it comes to items that can (and should) adapt, your goal is to move fast, do good work, and change as needed. Pretty much everything your customer comes into contact with like your website, collateral, software, etc is going to adapt with technology and alongside user testing. In this case, make good stuff, test, and iterate.

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Good Logos Do Not Make More Money

What designers need to understand about logos and how they apply to the business world.

1.9.2020

Business is comprised of two key objectives: saving money and earning money. So, if you are in a B2B industry, it is crucial to understand how your service aids a business within these objectives. As an identity and web designer, I'd like to think that my work has an impact on helping businesses succeed. But, I'm not one to throw around lies about my craft either. Which brings me to the point of this punch: good logos do not make more money. 

Believe me, it was hard writing out those words, as I'm sure I've got a target painted on my back now because of them. Sorry design friends, but it's true. A logo is not a magic bullet that suddenly gives businesses a truckload of new revenue. We're not done there though, as logos are important in business, but not in the way we'd think.

What a good logo does is mitigate loss. Do you hear that? It's not about what is gained, but about what you keep on the table now and for years to come.

Here's an example:

Put yourself in the shoes of a SaaS startup founder. She has set a few goals for herself.

Right now, her goal is to have business cards, a website, social profiles, and an email newsletter set up for her SaaS product.

1 year from today, her goal is to have 1000 paying customers, an expanded product line, trade booths, monthly investor meetings, and a suite of marketing collateral in addition to her previous goals.

5 years from now, she wants to have an office, 20 employees, run daily content marketing campaigns, expand the online tools for her users, and also product merch in addition to her previous goals.

10 years from now, she could potentially exit the company but hopes to leave behind a legacy.

Let's break this down:

Right now, her goal is to have business cards, a website, social profiles, and an email newsletter set up for her SaaS product.

Attaching some numbers to this, let's say she gets 1000 business cards printed for the year, gets 80 visitors to her site per month, has 10 visitors between her three social platforms per day, and has 30 subscribers to her weekly email list. In the first year, that is over 7,000 touchpoints and the logo is on every single one of them. 

Now imagine this: the logo is hideous, poorly designed, and sticks out like a sore thumb on all 7,000 of those impressions. Whether consciously or subconsciously, all 7,000 of those impressions could have been better, if it wasn't for that hideous logo.

I was thinking that'd I'd do the math on every single one of these milestones, but let's just imagine the number of touchpoints increases by 25% each year for those entire 10 years (remember this is impressions, not sales, paying investors, or paying users). At year ten, that's just over 65,000 touchpoints. 65,000 opportunities to make an impression on a potential user. Now imagine 30% of them go away because the design of the logo reminded them of something scammy. Or maybe because it looks like a phallus flying across the sky.

Is it worth the risk of putting all of that revenue at stake because your logo makes people feel gross? Or what about the cost of having to reprint 6,000 brochures because the logo was not delivered in proper formats?

It's not about earning more money, it's about keeping what's on the table. Do not let your logo be the Achilles heel of your business.

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