One way to make a bad first impression is by misusing fonts and typefaces. This is especially true when it comes to the financial and insurance world. If you come off as unprofessional, the client will not trust you. Trust is key for financial advisors. You’re handling the client’s livelihood and their future. If they sense anything is wrong, then that could mean trouble down the road.
Whether your content is online or printed, here are five ways advisors can improve their marketing materials by using typefaces and fonts.
1. Don’t use more than three fonts in a piece.
There are occasions when you can, but in general you want to limit your publications to three fonts. Too many fonts make your materials look random and messy. There are fun pieces, like birthday cards, where using more than one font has a reason. If you’re going over three fonts, then you should stop and ask yourself if there is a reason. The famous designer David Carson will use a lot of fonts in his work, but he will arrange it in a way that gives it a purpose. His work also fits his subject matter, which is surf culture and rock and roll. In the case of the financial world, the designs lean more towards a conservative and clean look. It’s knowing your audience and subject matter that will steer these types of decisions.
2. Choose well-known fonts.
Do a little research and figure out what these fonts are. Helvetica, Baskerville and Futura are just a few. There are a lot of great ones out there. Avoid downloading free fonts and using them. Many of these free fonts aren’t very professional. Well-known fonts with a long history of use were created by professionals. There was a lot of thought put into them and it shows.
3. Choose a good display font and a good text font.
Normally a display font is in the title and a text font is in the body. When you read a paragraph in the body of your work, is it easy to read? Text fonts should not grab attention. That would be the job of a display font. Display fonts can only be a few words, and it normally has to be large. Imagine the famous Indiana Jones display font as a text font. Wouldn’t that be really hard to read as long sentences? Text fonts can be display fonts depending on how you treat it. Apple uses text fonts as display fonts all the time. So, display fonts can’t be text fonts, but text fonts can be display fonts. Another thing to keep in mind is that when combining two fonts, they should contrast each other. If they look too similar, then there is no point in having more than one font.
4. Do not use the fonts Comic Sans, Arial or Times New Roman in your professional materials.
Comic Sans will take the wind out of any serious or professional message you want to convey. It’s okay to use on an invitation to a baby shower, but in the financial world it will come off as silly and unprofessional. The font Arial became very common to use in the 1990’s when Microsoft made it the standard default in Word as an alternative to Helvetica. It’s essentially a knock-off of Helvetica, but not as aesthetically pleasing. There are much better fonts like Helvetica, Futura, Avenir or even Calibri that you can use. Times New Roman is an okay font but, like Arial, there are better made fonts. Try Baskerville. Another reason not to use Arial or Times New Roman is that they are used by everyone. If you want to stick out from the crowd, then use more aesthetically pleasing fonts that will impress people when they see it. Most may not realize it, but it makes a big difference when you switch a document from Arial to something better like Avenir.
5. Break the rules and experiment.
I think it’s important to learn the rules before you start breaking them. The rules provide a foundation for your ideas but they can also get in the way. Keep the last four rules in the back of your mind and try to break them when they don’t feel right. Maybe you’ll come up with something that looks great. There have been many artists and designers in history that played their own game and created great work while pushing the boundaries. Maybe breaking the rules will help you stick out from the crowd.
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