In 2012, The New York Times did a study in which participants took an online quiz that asked them to confirm whether a statement was true or false. Each participant saw the quiz in a randomly chosen font. The researchers found that statements written in formal serif fonts, like Baskerville, were more likely to be labeled as true than statements in handwriting-based fonts, like Comic Sans. This suggests that typography can actually influence our trust in a source of information.
Of course, it’s not as easy as just making all your designs in serif typefaces. You should choose a typeface based on its appropriateness to your brand’s goals. A typeface is like an outfit. You want to wear the right clothing for the right occasion, but the choice you make also needs to project how you want others to see you.
Think of some of your favorite brands. Look at what kind of typography they use and consider why they might want to portray themselves that way. A lot of tech companies, like Lyft, Airbnb, and Facebook, intentionally use lowercase sans-serif typefaces for their logos in order to appear more approachable and friendly. When Google updated its logo in 2015, switching to a sans-serif font was the most noticeable change, and it revealed the company’s intention to be seen as friendlier and more innocent amid concerns about data privacy. Brands like Disney and Coca-Cola use script typefaces to remind their audiences of their long history and traditional values.