It’s common sense to use certain typefaces for specific contexts, and not others. You wouldn’t trust an insurance company that uses Papyrus in its branding, would you? It would feel equally misaligned to use luxurious script on the packaging for diapers. Whether we’re outwardly aware of it or not, type plays a key role in how we experience a brand, which makes font choice critical for establishing the right tone and credibility for a company. The typography pros over at the foundry Monotype would strongly agree, and have just conducted the research to back it up.
Monotype recently teamed up with the applied neuroscience company Neurons to investigate how different typefaces affect our emotional states. “Our relationship with type is an emotional one, whether we realize it or not,” says Monotype’s report of their findings. “Decades of research and thought have gone into branding and the psychology of color, but far less attention has been paid to the science of type and emotion.”
Monotype and Neurons are filling this gap with their study entitled, “Why fonts make us feel; A scientific study exploring the emotional impact of type.” As Monotype Senior Brand Director James Fooks-Bale states in the study’s report, “Finding the right connection between brand direction and typeface choice is something type designers know inherently themselves, inside out. We wanted to put that to the test, and to shine a light on the value that typography brings to brands and their audiences.”
The study consisted of online research conducted in November 2021 of over 400 participants in the UK, ranging from ages 18 to 50 with an even gender split. Neurons used data collection and consumer neuroscience to measure people’s subconscious and conscious reactions to type with three distinct typefaces: FS Jack (a humanist sans), Gilroy (a geometric sans), and Cotford (a languid serif).
“Selecting appropriate typefaces was of paramount importance in ensuring conclusive data,” Monotype Creative Type Director Phil Garnham says in the report. “It’s invaluable to have research supporting what we type designers have known all along: type gives brands the emotional edge. Typographic features, the granular details found within letter-shapes, and overarching tonal themes in fonts connote real meaning and appropriateness, and have the power to directly influence emotions.”
The researchers used these typefaces in three separate written scenarios: single words, a sentence using those words, and a sentence using those words with a brand included. Study participants were then asked to rate their emotional responses to these stimuli, including how sincere, memorable, trustworthy, or confident they felt.
The results unsurprisingly confirmed Monotype and Neurons’ hypothesis was confirmed, proving just how significant of an effect type has on our emotions. You can take a closer look at these findings and the study itself on the Monotype website, or watch a webinar about the research for an even more in-depth look.