The best signage fonts that attract customers are bold, easy to read, and simple. Fonts, or typefaces, are specially designed letters used in advertising on signs, billboards, newsprint and magazines that grab a reader’s attention and help sell products, goods and services.
What is a font?
In the 15th century, German printer Johannes Gutenburg invented lead fonts, moveable type that had to be set by hand—letter by letter—to tediously print books and newspapers. In the early 1980s, Apple founder Steve Jobs revolutionized the way we use fonts today when he invented the first personal computer. Jobs’ invention made thousands of digital typefaces accessible to anyone with a PC, including sign makers.
When it comes to designing signs that attract customers, you want to use a font that is easily read with a personality all its own. Signs are fast absorption material and unless someone is standing in front of a supermarket or clothing store, the design will have to captivate an audience in a short amount of time. Therefore, your design will have to utilize a font that is easy to read and easy to remember.
Some popular fonts used on signs and billboards are Helvetica, Trajan, Futura, and Frutiger—all sans serif fonts. The letters of serif fonts, like Bodoni or Times Roman, have little feet on the top and bottom that help guide the reader’s eye across a page of type. Sans serif fonts are those without little feet or serifs. Typically, sans serif fonts have a more modern and timeless appeal.
Helvetica: Designed by the Haas Type Foundry 50 years ago, Helvetica is the most widely used font for signs, logos, and in advertising. Its simplicity and boldness compels customers to read and remember an advertiser’s message. Crisp, clean, and timeless, Helvetica is a seller’s first choice.
Trajan: Popularly used on old Hollywood posters and brochures, Trajan was designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly for Adobe. This typeface is a loose interpretation of Roman square lettering and is an easy-to-read serif font that grabs the customer’s eye.
Futura: The classic clean lines of this sans serif font is perfect for large signs and displays. Typical of the Bauhaus design movement of 1933, Futura’s strength lies in its distinct geometric shapes—circles, triangles and squares. Its appeal is in simple lines and a straightforward personality that attracts a large segment of the buying public while complementing a broad range of graphics.
Frutiger: Named for world renowned font designer Adrian Frutiger, this typeface was the result of work commissioned in the late 1960s by the Charles De Gaulle Airport. Frutiger was asked to design a distinct typeface for airport signage. The typeface Frutiger debuted in 1975 and became a permanent fixture of the airport. Because of its simplicity and adaptability to different styles, Frutiger later expanded into a type “family,” including several typefaces under its umbrella: Vegur, Arctik, Fog Sans, Atrian, and M+2p.