The Power of Typefaces: 20 Tried and True Fonts For Your Business

20 common fonts in business branding.

October 21, 2023

In the world of branding, every detail matters, no matter how subtle it may seem. Among these details, the choice of fonts is of paramount importance. Fonts play a significant role in conveying a brand's identity, personality, and message. They can evoke emotions, establish a visual identity, and create a lasting impression. In this article, we will delve into the 20 most common fonts in branding, and alongside each, we'll explore their visual appeal and their fascinating historical origins.

1. Helvetica

Helvetica, the Swiss creation of Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann in 1957, was designed to be a versatile and clean sans-serif typeface. It quickly rose to prominence in the 1960s for its neutrality, simplicity, and readability. Its roots are firmly grounded in the modernist movement, where simplicity, clarity, and minimalism were highly prized. Helvetica's worldwide recognition and adaptability have made it a cornerstone for American Apparel, Panasonic, and 3M, aligning with their messages of modernity, simplicity, and universality.

2. Times New Roman

With its timeless elegance and readability, Times New Roman has a history dating back to 1931. Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent designed it for The Times newspaper, aiming for a typeface that would maintain tradition while providing exceptional legibility. This serif font's roots go back to the transition from old-style to modern serif typefaces, which was a pivotal development in typography. Brands like The New York Times and The Times of London have long employed this font, associating it with credibility, trustworthiness, and a sense of historical tradition.

3. Arial

Arial's history is closely linked to the popularity of Helvetica. Monotype introduced Arial in 1982 as a digital alternative to Helvetica. The design, with its clear, sans-serif letterforms, and efficient legibility, made Arial a swift choice for many brands. Its roots are in the desire for a versatile sans-serif font that fits the digital age. Microsoft and IBM have relied on Arial to convey professionalism and clarity, aligning with their messages of modernity and technological prowess.

4. Calibri

Lucas de Groot designed Calibri in 2002, making it the default font in Microsoft Office from 2007. Calibri's roots are in the need for a modern, humanist sans-serif typeface that remains highly readable. Calibri's clean, rounded letterforms reflect the contemporary design sensibilities of the early 21st century. Brands like Nestle and LinkedIn favor Calibri for its readability and clean aesthetics, mirroring their messages of modernity, approachability, and professionalism.

5. Futura

Created by Paul Renner in 1927, Futura is renowned for its geometric shapes and minimalist design, marking a significant step in modernist typefaces. Futura's roots lie in the avant-garde art and design movements of the early 20th century, particularly the Bauhaus school. Its precise geometric forms reflect a break from tradition and a step towards modernity. Brands like Volkswagen and Absolut have adopted Futura to signify innovation, sophistication, and forward-thinking.

6. Garamond

Garamond is named after the 16th-century French punch cutter and type designer Claude Garamond, representing classic old-style typefaces. Garamond's roots go back to the Renaissance era, and it is known for its elegance and readability. Its adoption by brands such as Apple and Abercrombie & Fitch resonates with their messages of timeless sophistication and approachability.

7. Baskerville

John Baskerville, in the mid-18th century, developed this elegant serif font, celebrated for its sharp and refined appearance. Baskerville's roots can be traced to the Age of Enlightenment, where rationality, precision, and intellectualism were highly prized. Brands like Harvard University and Sony have chosen Baskerville to convey intellectual and sophisticated vibes, aligning with their messages of trustworthiness and tradition.

8. Avenir

Adrian Frutiger designed Avenir in 1988, aiming for a versatile and contemporary sans-serif typeface. Avenir's roots are in the desire for a clean, versatile typeface that reflects the design sensibilities of the late 20th century. Its name, "Avenir," means "future" in French, emphasizing its forward-thinking design. Brands like Lululemon and UPS use Avenir to represent modernity and reliability, aligning with their messages of progress and trustworthiness.

9. Gill Sans

Eric Gill designed Gill Sans in the 1920s, drawing from humanist sans-serif influences to create a friendly and approachable font. Gill Sans's roots lie in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements of the early 20th century, emphasizing humanism and craftsmanship. Its design reflects a break from the overly formal and ornate typefaces of the past. Brands like BBC and Tommy Hilfiger have employed Gill Sans to evoke a sense of trust and approachability, aligning with their messages of reliability and friendliness.

10. Trade Gothic

Trade Gothic was designed by Jackson Burke in 1948, known for its industrial, no-nonsense aesthetic. Trade Gothic's roots can be found in the mid-20th century, a period marked by the rise of industrial design and functionalism. Its design reflects the no-frills, straightforward approach of the era. Brands like Volkswagen and Levi's use Trade Gothic to communicate durability and a no-nonsense attitude, aligning with their messages of strength and straightforwardness.

11. Bodoni

Giambattista Bodoni, an Italian typographer, designed Bodoni in the late 18th century. Bodoni's roots go back to the Enlightenment era, characterized by rationality, precision, and elegance. Bodoni's high-contrast letterforms and modernist aesthetics make it a choice for luxury brands. Brands like Vogue and Calvin Klein have used Bodoni to convey luxury and refinement, aligning with their messages of high fashion and elegance.

12. Myriad

Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly designed Myriad for Adobe in 1992. Myriad's roots are in the late 20th century, when the demand for versatile and readable sans-serif fonts in digital design was on the rise. Myriad's versatility and clean lines make it a perfect fit for modern design. It has become the font of choice for Apple, a company known for its minimalist and user-friendly designs.

13. Century Gothic

Century Gothic is a 20th-century sans-serif font inspired by geometric typefaces like Futura. Its roots lie in the desire for a typeface that bridges tradition and modernity. Century Gothic reflects the design sensibilities of the late 20th century, where modernism and classicism coexisted. Brands like Subaru and Banana Republic use Century Gothic to signify a harmonious balance between tradition and innovation, aligning with their messages of timelessness and modernity.

14. Franklin Gothic

Morris Fuller Benton created Franklin Gothic in the early 20th century. Franklin

Gothic's roots are in the American Gothic typefaces, marked by bold, sturdy forms. Its design reflects the strength and durability associated with the American industrial and machine age. Brands like Coca-Cola and Airbnb have chosen Franklin Gothic to represent their robust and dependable image, aligning with their messages of strength and reliability.

15. Roboto

Roboto was developed by Christian Robertson as the default typeface for the Android operating system. Roboto's roots can be found in the need for a legible and modern typeface for digital screens. Its name, "Roboto," is derived from "robot" and "mechanical," emphasizing its suitability for the digital age. Brands like Android and PayPal use Roboto to emphasize modernity and technological innovation, aligning with their messages of innovation and ease of use.

16. Gotham

Designed by Tobias Frere-Jones in 2000, Gotham was inspired by mid-20th-century signage and is celebrated for its clean, contemporary appearance. Gotham's roots can be traced to the mid-20th century, characterized by the rise of modernism and international typographic style. Its design reflects the clean, straightforward, and accessible aesthetics of the era. Brands like Netflix and Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign employed Gotham to communicate modernity and accessibility, aligning with their messages of progress and inclusivity.

17. Rockwell

Rockwell, designed by Monotype in the 1930s, offers a bold and sturdy slab serif look, often associated with power and confidence. Rockwell's roots are in the machine age of the early 20th century, a time marked by industrialization and bold, blocky designs. Its design reflects strength and reliability. Brands like Nike and Vogue have used Rockwell to represent power and confidence, aligning with their messages of strength and boldness.

18. Optima

Hermann Zapf designed Optima in the 1950s, creating a distinctive, elegant sans-serif font with a unique appearance. Optima's roots are in the post-war period, characterized by a desire for individuality and elegance in design. Its design reflects a sense of individuality and craftsmanship. Brands like Estée Lauder and Caterpillar have chosen Optima to convey a sense of individuality and sophistication, aligning with their messages of craftsmanship and sophistication.

19. Cooper Black

Oswald Bruce Cooper designed Cooper Black in 1921, featuring a bold, friendly appearance reminiscent of early 20th-century branding. Cooper Black's roots can be traced to the exuberant and expressive design sensibilities of the Roaring Twenties. Its design reflects a sense of nostalgia and approachability. Brands like Rolling Stone and the band The Beatles have used Cooper Black to evoke a sense of nostalgia and approachability, aligning with their messages of nostalgia and friendliness.

20. Univers

Adrian Frutiger created Univers in the late 1950s, celebrated for its versatility, clean lines, and wide range of styles. Univers's roots are in the post-war period, marked by the desire for a versatile and adaptable typeface. Its design reflects versatility and clarity. Brands like eBay and Xerox have adopted Univers to represent innovation and user-friendliness, aligning with their messages of innovation and accessibility.

The Importance of Font Choice in Branding

Selecting the right font is a critical decision in the branding process. Fonts communicate a brand's personality, values, and message. The following are the key factors that influence font choice in branding:

1. Brand Identity: The font should align with the brand's identity and values. A font that is inconsistent with a brand's personality can confuse and alienate customers.

2. Legibility: The font must be easily readable, whether in print or digital formats. A font that is hard to read can deter potential customers.

3. Versatility: A font should be adaptable across various media and platforms. It should maintain its integrity in different sizes and contexts.

4. Emotion: Different fonts evoke different emotions. Serif fonts often convey tradition and trust, while sans-serif fonts lean toward modernity and simplicity. Brands must choose fonts that resonate with their intended audience.

5. Recognition: A unique or custom font can set a brand apart and make it more memorable. However, brands should be cautious not to overdo it, as legibility remains essential.


Fonts are a powerful tool in the world of branding, influencing how consumers perceive a brand and its message. The 20 common fonts mentioned in this article are widely used by brands across various industries to communicate their personality, values, and objectives. Each font has its unique characteristics, making it suitable for different branding contexts.

When choosing a font for your brand, consider the values, emotions, and target audience you want to reach. The right font can enhance your brand's visibility and make a lasting impression, while the wrong font can undermine your brand's credibility and message. So, whether it's the timeless elegance of Times New Roman or the modern simplicity of Helvetica, the power of fonts in branding cannot be underestimated.

Shawn Nichols - Founder, metriq

Shawn Nichols

Shawn is the founding owner of metriq, a web strategy and design agency in Southern California, CA serving brands from local family-owned businesses all the way to billion-dollar corporations. His passions lie in design, psychology, and people.


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