We use different languages to communicate every day. And I don't mean English, Spanish, or Russian – I mean the languages of different modes of operation. There are seven of these "languages" we communicate in, each in different situations and to achieve different results: Innovation, Power, Passion, Prestige, Trust, Mystique, and Alert.
We might use the language of Prestige when we need to communicate that something is the best; we use the language of Passion when we need to create a personal connection with others. Power communicates confidence while Innovation is the language of new ideas.
Stick with me here. I promise we're getting to the fonts soon.
In How the World Sees You, Sally Hogshead talks about each of these seven languages and the unique advantages they give you in different situations. To tap into the advantages of each language, we can use tools like body language as well as word choice and presentation.
For most of us, understanding the way word choice can be used to communicate in a certain one of these language will be pretty clear: we use vocabulary that reinforces our meaning to get the message across. If we're trying to convince a friend that our hairstylist is a great choice we could use words that communicate Trust to make our point. She is reliable. Dependable. She never lets me down.
→ We use the language of Trust when we need to demonstrate that something is a solid choice for the long haul: it's reliable, tried-and-true, and dependable.
But if you're not a designer, one concept you might not be as familiar with is the way elements of art like color and shape can communicate these messages as effectively as your word choice. Your visual presentation – the way you combine those elements of art – is a powerful tool to unlock these modes of communicate to boost your message.
And this fact extends to typefaces.
The truth is that fonts communicate in each of these languages too.
Again, I know that might seem kind of weird if you're not a designer who is already used to this way of thinking. But typefaces communicate through elements and principles of visual art that can combine to create a strong, clear message: their lines, shape, balance, proportion, contrast, and cultural backgrounds all work together to communicate concepts through those seven languages – Innovation, Power, Passion, Prestige, Trust, Mystique, and Alert.
And today I'm pretty psyched to explore how typefaces communicate Trust.
I've lined up eight typeface combinations that all work to create a message that the information they carry is reliable, tried-and-true, and dependable. That it's super trustable.
Ready to see the combinations? Let's go!
Every single one of these combinations communicates trust to the viewer, but each pair is unique in its particular vibe.
So what makes each of these combinations work?
Let's break it down pair by pair:
1. Adriane Text
In this pairing I'm using a Adriane Text in bold italic for a headline and pairing it with Gibson light as paragraph text. This pair makes for a superbly trustable combination for a few reasons:
- Each embrace a tall x-height, which serves to "stabilize" the text.
- Each are extremely legible to present their information in a straightforward manner.
- The subtle, unexpected details of Adriane (like the extra curve on the italic x – *shivers*) are balanced out by the reliable, forthright communication of Gibson.
2. Soleil + Borgia Pro
Soleil and Borgia Pro are a solid, steadfast type pairing that communicate trust and stability. The fluid, comfortable, and even friendly geometry of Soleil is offset by the traditional serifs and angles of Borgia Pro.
Pairing a more austere or calculated sans serif with Borgia could create a combination that is cold (Borgia is pretty traditional and no-nonsense), but the friendliness of Soleil keeps this pairing approachable.
+ Adriane Text
Aha! We're back to Gibson and Adriane Text once again.
Each of these typefaces is so versatile it can perform equally well as a headline or in paragraph text.
Swapping the order lets the clean functionality of Gibson shine through and the happy, round terminals of Adriane slide into place.
Clarendon Text is a classic slab serif typeface with a lot of personality.
Paired with InterFace, a wonderfully readable and balanced sans serif, the two create an unexpected yet balanced pair thanks to the tall x-height and rounded details of each typeface.
Freight Text Pro and Freight Sans Pro are a natural pair since they're in the same family, of course.
Pairing the two create an agreeable harmony that communicates pleasant dependability. The choppy, unexpected angles of the (serif) Freight Text give the pair an additional boost of modern appeal.
Abril Titling is such a wonderfully pleasant typeface to work with. I absolutely love its solid proportions and paired round and flat serifs.
Fira Sans is great for its upright, balanced proportions and curves. It was created by Mozilla (that's the same people who created FireFox) and has an open source license – that means it's free.
Paired together, the two communicate confident trust and accountability through these details. I would LOVE to be able to use this combination for a magazine or news source – either online or in print.
Speaking of Fira Sans, its wide range of weights and styles make it great for more applications than just paragraph text. I love using it for clean, readable headings and emphasis too.
And just as Freight Text Pro makes great headlines, it makes wonderful paragraph text as well. Pairing Freight Text with Fira Sans creates a much more laid back serif-sans serif combination than using Freight Sans as a sans serif heading thanks to Fira's curvier, more relaxed style.
YOU might find Corbel a little boring, and you'd be right. As paragraph text, yes, it's boring. It's sooooooooo boring. But it makes for a great headline or title typeface in one case and one case only: when it's paired up with an energetic, personable, exuberant typeface for paragraphs.
And that's exactly what pairing Corbel with Bookmania achieves. Take a look at the example page for Bookmania and you'll recognize it right away.
Because of its strong cultural connotations as the swashy serif of choice for book titles in the '60s and '70s, using Bookmania as a title font comes across as novel (ha) or even cliché. BUT move it down to paragraph text and pair it with softly curving, no-nonsense sans serif heading like Corbel and you've got a wonderfully trustable (and unexpected) combination.
So what is it that all of these pairings have in common?
Is there a key method for finding typeface pairs that communicate trust?
Yes, there is:
→ Typefaces communicate Trust by using harmonious proportions, steady shapes, and stable balance.
Trends come and go. But essential modes of communication stay the same: Trust in your brand or message is cued using classic, balanced principles of design.
Until next time,
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Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.