Creatives are constantly sharpening their skills and arsenal of tools, and as brand designers in particular typography is one of the important ones. A favorite component of branding for me personally, good typography can truly make or break a brand’s vibe — especially when it comes to life on a website. I find it to be one of the most humble and underrated elements of branding, while your type selection might not be the “showiest” part of the whole branding suite, it’s so vital to the brand identity and consistency.
When going about selecting a type suite, one can easily get overwhelmed with the options available. There are independent type foundries, free fonts through Google and other sites, and Adobe fonts which are available to all Creative Cloud members but oftentimes still require licenses for use beyond those applications. Part of the brand designer’s job is to constantly be looking at typography and scouting for unique sources. Even if I’m not at that phase of the branding process for clients, I like absorbing type on a regular basis to stay fresh and go into projects with some sources in mind.
That being said, I’m so excited to share some of my favorites below as they’re grouped accordingly by foundry fonts, free fonts, and resources for working with fonts. Let’s get right into it.
Based out of Cologne, Germany Nikolas Type is a great foundry providing unique, funkier-leaning typefaces including one of my favorites, Grand Slang. A little tip, and this can be applied to any of these foundries, sign up for their newsletters if they have them. This way you’ll be updated when they release no typeface
Founded in New York City, Sharp Type is another incredibly foundry that’s comprised of a larger team. With more type designers on deck, this allows them to have a more extensive typesuite library. A few personal favorites are Ogg and Toris Mille.
Another favorite of mine, this foundry was launched in Switzerland but now works all over the world with their team. Something important to note about Grilli Type is their dedication to relationships with graphic designers who work with and put in action their typefaces. They describe themselves as a group of designers and creatives who also happen to be obsessed with type, something I love to hear from a foundry.
Two French designers fell in love, quit their agency jobs, and founded a multi-disciplined creative studio and type foundry. You likely recognize VJ Type for their both elegant and eccentric typefaces. Personal favorites of mine are Cako and Voyage.
Istanbul-based designer Muhittin Güneş is an independent designer and type enthusiast. His studio currently offers three typefaces for purchase, but he’s one to watch for sure. As for myself, I’m eyeing his latest WIP (also known as a “work in progress”) typeface called “Gronland” on his site.
Unique from the other foundries listed above, Lost Type is a self-described “pay-what-you-want” foundry. The collection is over 50 typefaces and large brands like Nike, Starbucks, and Disney. Also different from the other ones, this site offers a wide variety of typography styles — banner, slab, script, serif, sans serif. They have something for everyone!
A team comprised of young designers, Neubel is home to some of my favorite serif fonts like Elgoc and Malaka. While they currently only have a few typefaces available for purchase, this is another foundry to sign up for their email list and keep your eyes on.
Another foundry out of Switzerland, Swiss Typefaces aesthetic nods at their country’s overall design style in their foundry. They also proudly focus on being an innovative brand by designers for designers.
Led by Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type and Studio Seals, this type foundry is more than just a hub for unique fonts. The foundry’s mission is rooted in uplifting black designers and addressing the issues in the design industry that make it a predominantly white cis-gender male space. Vocal type became that outlet to share a different approach to typography, one that doesn’t look the same as everyone else.
Showcasing a few editorial typefaces on his site, Victor Bartis also spearheads “Font Brief” with Cristian Costea. Font brief is a web-based tool to guide designers to fonts they might like based on choosing descriptive words. I haven’t experimented with it much, but upon inspection am intrigued and excited to explore more with this tool.
We all know about Google fonts, and there are definitely some gems there. But I want to highlight two places that offer some free commercial fonts beyond Google. A quick sidenote, be sure to double check the terms as not all fonts on these sites are fully free for commercial use.
A collection of open-source typefaces, Collletttivo’s goal is to connect and inspire designers to think beyond traditional approaches and ultimately create a network of creatives. One of my favorites on here is Coconat by Sara Lavazza.
Another font collection, Fontesk offers a large selection that ranges in style. These are all completely free for personal use, but definitely do your homework regarding commercial usage.
A typography blog that highlights strong font pairings, this is a great website to get your creative juices flowing and see how certain pairings look on the web. I love that it allows you to “look under the hood” and inspect the CSS that they are using.
Similar to Typ.io, Typewolf taks the inspiration a step further by providing a unique page for each font which links to similar paid and free fonts as well as “Site of the Day ” selections that use the font in discussion. It’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole here and look at beautiful fonts for hours, so proceed with caution.
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about browser plugins to find out what fonts people are using, but you actually don’t need a plug-in at all. You just need to use your browser’s inspect or developer tools.
Here’s how to find out a font someone is using without downloading a plugin:
Below are some images of how it will look for you, depending on your browser:
It feels like we could continue on for hours, as typography is a beautiful component of brand design, but the idea of the list is to send you on your way and off exploring. The part that motivates me about experimenting with type is that the possibilities are endless. If this blog post resonated with you, be sure to check out this blog post all about font psychology!