The Importance of Typography
Let us begin by saying typography is extremely important. Not only does it communicate that "Annual Winter 50% Off Sale", it represents your brand in it's entirety and ties your companies culture together. A typeface conveys a lot about a company with little effort. You must be careful in choosing a typeface that communicates your brand. This is why there are millions of typefaces. Each subtle change can alter a person's perception of a brand, but we'll get into that in more detail later. First, you need a little introduction to fonts.
Serif vs San Serif
Let's think of fonts as more of a species with classes, orders, and phylum. The first two categories fonts are separated into are SERIF and SAN SERIF. Serif's are semi-structural additions to the end of font glyphs (glyphs: individual letter-forms). A serif typeface will have these generally small protrusions while a san serif typeface will not. Serif typefaces give off a more classical feel. The serif font gives the reader more of a bar like text block that their eye can follow easier, while the san serif leaves more white space and comes off as cleaner and more modern. In logos the pairing of a serif font with a san serif is extremely popular as the typefaces complement each other.
Now that you're able to spot a sweet serif font like a hawk you're ready to start identifying the typeface. The typeface is the design of the letter forms, or glyphs. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of fonts so you will have to practice your typeface spotting. But there are several popular (and not-so popular) typefaces you'll see out in the wild.
There are many styles of fonts and more are created each day. Some of the more popular ones include; Grunge, Stencil (Capture It), Rustic or Wester (Rosewood), Handwritten (Harrison), and Script (Tango Script). Each font tells a story or gives a glimpse into a personality so be extra careful when selecting a font to encapsulate your brand.
Display Font & Body Copy
When selecting a font for your business you first need to consider the use for the font? Your font needs to be readable and each typeface has a limit on how small you can scale it.
Many fonts can be used as body copy (capable of being used for large paragraphs of small print such as in newspapers and books). Helvetica, Times New Roman are two famous body copy fonts. However, a large amount of fonts are strictly Display Type, meaning the typeface only works well in a larger font-size. It is important to remember that any font can be used for Display Type, but not all can be used as body copy.
The weight of a font carries a lot more meaning than one might think. Take the Gotham Thin on the far left. Thin fonts convey vulnerability and elegance and are used in modern, sometimes more feminine stores. Now, if you look all the way right you'll note Gotham Black. The weight conveys strength and sturdiness, perhaps a bank or safe company fontface? Many typefaces have a variety of weights so take them into consideration when decided.
Several fonts over the years have come into notoriety in the Graphic Design world as well as within the general populace. Mainly due to their addition to either Microsoft Word or the Adobe Suites some fonts have become loved and others hated.
Fonts to avoid at all cost
Many fonts are hated due to overuse. Graphic Designers do not touch these fonts and neither should you. Typefaces such as Papyrus, Impact, Eccentric, Copperplate, Courier and Brush Script.
Fonts in Contention
Some fonts are on the verge of overuse but are very well designed and for that reason graphic designers still use them. Typefaces such as Trajan Pro, Bank Gothic, Helvetica, League Gothic and Gotham.
Fonts on the Web
If you have a website, are building a website fonts come into play here as well. Besides using the websafe fonts which everyone can use, consider using Cufon and FontSquirrel to substitute in your brand's typeface. Be sure to read your font license before doing so as to not violate any foundry restrictions. Also, make sure that the font converts to the web well. Several typefaces may look poor on a screen due to their coding or browser issues.
There's a whole lot more I'm not going to begin to get into but if you'd like more information on fonts feel free to do some research on your own. So get out there are start picking out typefaces. If you see a nice typeface you'd love to use for your business I suggest taking a picture and using WhatTheFont to identify it.