Friday, July 11, 2008

Knowing the "Hidden Power" of Fonts Spells Success

Knowing the "Hidden Power" of Fonts Spells Success
Does font choice reveal something hidden in your personality?

I'm a font fanatic. I can't begin to type anything unless I find a font that feels right. My favorites are the trusty Times New Roman, Courier New, Comic Sans, and Arial. I wondered what my font choices say about me, so I did some research and found out that there's more than meets the eye when it comes to fonts.

"Perception of Fonts: Personality Traits and Uses," a 2006 psychology study done at Wichita State University, revealed that people associate fonts with particular moods.

After going through the study's survey charts, I was amused to find out that my font choices present me as a "stable conformist" who could also be funny and "cuddly." (Me? A conformist?) Go figure. Check out the study and see how you might be judged by your favorite fonts.

In any case, the Wichita State University study confirms that fonts have indeed become significant elements of communication. In the old days, a person's handwriting was thought to be the key to his or her personality. Now--with technology as the great equalizer and a blessing to those with horrible penmanship--a person's font choices are supposed to show the world how his or her mind works.

As such, knowing the right fonts to use could spell the difference between the failure and success of communication.

It seems that the advertising industry has tapped into this "hidden power" of fonts. John Doyle, a marketing researcher at Cardiff Business School in the U.K. says that "consumers prefer consistency" and that "congruence between a typeface and an ad's message results in a more memorable product."

To illustrate his point, Doyle presented some of his findings:

1. Ornate, scripted fonts are associated with elegance.

2. A font that is slanted to the right connotes action. It's best for fast, high-paced products.

3. Products meant to exude strength and power are best shown off with heavy, block-like fonts.
Then again, I think we should all remember that the message we want to communicate or the product we're selling should be substantial enough to begin with.

While fonts do pack a subtle-yet-powerful psych punch, they can only enhance a good idea or a wonderful product. People won't believe what you're saying or buy what you're selling if it's not any good--never mind if you used the right font in your marketing letter.

Knowing the "Hidden Power" of Fonts Spells Success

Side Note from MJ: Great stuff, Bean. The Direct Marketing world universally seems to agree that the standard serif fonts (12 pt. Times New Roman and 10 pt. Courier) will have a very positive impact on the response rate of any print ad.

The theory is that these fonts increase readability and it's only logical that this would increase the response rate of your ads. You can have the best-written ad in the world and if no one reads it, it just doesn't matter. On the web, since serif fonts don't render so well in browsers, the preferred font tends to be Arial, Verdana, and Tahoma.

Of course marketers will argue this point from every which direction, but the above seems to be the most universally agreed upon standard in the Direct Marketing world. The brand marketers are looking at things from an entirely different lens, so for them short ads with fonts selected for emotional impact can make good sense.

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