Font vs. Typeface:
While often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the terms "typeface" and "font." A typeface refers to the shared design characteristics of one or multiple sets of letters. A font, on the other hand, is the specific size, style, and weight of the particular typeface. A typeface may consist of only one or several fonts.
In our descriptions below we use the term "typeface" when discussing the design features and uses of the different font families.
Best Logo Fonts with Downloads:
Futura is a simple, geometric sans serif typeface that was designed by Paul Renner and released in 1927. It is inspired by the Bauhaus design style and has been described as timelessly modern.
The typeface is highly symmetric and employs simple geometric shapes and low-contrast strokes to create clean, uniform lettering, culminating in a no-nonsense, sturdy, and efficient look and feel. Futura is well suited for both small screens and large billboards as it is very legible.
Futura's impressive versatility is demonstrated by the contrasting range of brands it has worked well for, from high-end, expensive-looking brands like Dolce & Gabbana to Best Buy and Crayola. Futura's bold and condensed variants tend to be most popular in advertising, which is not surprising as they are particularly striking.
Bodoni is a serif typeface with origins in the 18th century. With the dawn of the digital age, Bodoni was increasingly used for display text in advertising, in contrast to its original use for book printing. While there are modern variants suitable for smaller print, Bodoni is often used in headlines, particularly by high-quality fashion magazines.
Bodoni has remained relevant throughout the ages, and its modern renditions maintain its classic design. It is strongly associated with style and luxury and is a popular choice for fashion logos. Bodoni and close derivations thereof have been used by Elizabeth Arden, Calvin Klein, and more.
Unlike neutral sans serifs, such as Helvetica, this typeface has a distinct personality. The high-contrast strokes and thin serifs are undoubtedly proud and elegant and create a dazzling effect in headlines and brand names.
3. Helvetica Now.
Originally designed by Max Miedinger in 1957, Helvetica has become one of the most recognizable and widely used sans serif typefaces. It has inspired multiple variations over the years and features in many famous company logos, including BMW, Jeep, GM, JCPenney, and Target.
Helvetica Now, the most recent revamp of the original, includes 48 fonts with different weights and italics. The updated fonts maintain the clean lines and neutral look that make them easy to incorporate into almost any logo design without throwing it off balance. The simplicity and clarity of Helvetica Now make it easy to read in any size.
While legibility is important and the straightforward, clean-cut style has worked for many famous brands, Helvetica has also been criticized for being too plain and overused. While its recognizability, clarity, and versatility make it a fairly safe option, it may need other elements such as images and colors to create an impactful, memorable logo.
Buy Helvetica Now.
4. Proxima Nova.
A refined version of Proxima Sans released in 1994, Proxima Nova was published in 2005 with more style variations than its predecessor. Both were designed by Mark Simonson. Proxima Nova soon became a popular choice for web content and was used by more than 25,000 websites by 2015. Mashable is among the brands that use Proxima Nova in its logo.
Proxima Nova strikes a balance between simple and fun. It has a clean and geometric design with slightly asymmetrical, rounded characters that give it a trendy, modern edge. Like Helvetica Now, it's easy to read and incredibly versatile, as well as subtle enough not to distract from a design. It does, however, have a somewhat friendlier look.
While Proxima Nova is a great option for logos with powerful design elements, it may be too neutral to be the focal point in a striking logo. For digital brands or businesses wanting to resonate with a tech-savvy audience, Proxima Nova is certainly a font family to consider.
Buy Proxima Nova.
Didot is not only very similar to Bodoni but is believed to have strongly influenced its design. The two typefaces emerged in the same period around 200 years ago. Didot and Bodoni's modern renditions both enjoy particular popularity in the fashion industry and are commonly associated with style and luxury.
Like Bodoni, Didot features high-contrast strokes and is similarly unsuitable for body copy, although it makes a striking and stylish impression when used for logos and headlines. At times, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two as many differences are subtle, such as the thinner serifs.
Well-known brands that have used Didot to inspire their logos include Zara and Harper's Bazaar. The hairline serifs, vertical stress, and high stroke contrast give the typeface a timeless elegance and make it a great choice for brands that want to look stylish and expensive.
Garamond is another classic typeface with old-style serifs that has stood the test of time, having originated in the 16th century. The modern renditions of this typeface are still considered timeless. Unlike Didone fonts, this classic serif has lower stroke contrast and is easier to read.
Originally designed by Claude Garamond, the Garamond typeface is characterized by sloping head serifs, slightly cupped baseline serifs with rounded edges, and diagonal stress. The overall look achieved is friendlier and more open than that of modern, angular serifs.
Garamond can be seen in established brands' logos, such as Rolex and Abercrombie & Fitch. It strikes a great balance between classic, minimalist, and personable and conveys a sense of strength and prestige. A major benefit in contrast to Didone-style fonts is its better legibility in smaller sizes.
Myriad is a sans serif typeface that was developed for Adobe and initially used in its logo. Other brands that have used Myriad to inspire their logos' text include Shopify, Visa, Walmart, and LinkedIn. Its clean design and easy legibility make it highly versatile and a popular web font.
The sloped and slanting forms of this typeface are reminiscent of handwriting and give it a somewhat informal yet not too casual feel. Myriad was designed to be neutral and offers great flexibility, being very legible in large and small fonts, both on and off-screen.
Myriad Pro, the OpenType version that has superseded the original typeface, has maintained its predecessor's general success. It is modern with a relaxed elegance that makes it suitable for a wide range of industries. However, whether it is the right choice for a logo depends on the intention of the design and what it should convey.
Trajan is another typeface that was designed for Adobe. This bold serif typeface was inspired by the Roman square capitals that were used for the inscription at the base of a Roman triumphal column, Trajan's column. Trajan has been a popular choice for movie posters and magazines and features in Colombia University's logo.
This imperial-looking, all-capitals typeface has distinct, classical proportions and is legible from a distance. It is subtle but powerful and conveys a sense of heritage, importance, and elegance, making it suitable for corporate, financial, and educational brands. It's not surprising that the typeface has also been used in presidential campaigns.
Designed by Adrian Frutiger and first released in 1957, Univers is a versatile sans serif typeface that enjoyed great success in the 1960s and 1970s. It continues to be a popular typeface because of its clean and modern look. eBay and Unicef are among the brands that have used Univers and visually similar fonts.
The Univers font family includes a wide range of weights and styles, all of which maintain a brilliant uniformity. The large x-height of the typeface, along with short ascenders and descenders, give it a compact appearance without impeding its legibility.
Unlike the other fonts mentioned in this article, Billabong is a script typeface, emulating the fluid strokes created by handwriting. Billabong offers a stylish calligraphic design with a casual, hand-drawn appeal that makes it feel creative and personal. Billabong is a typeface with a strong character and can make a brand feel more relatable.
While script typefaces are seldom used for body copy, they can work well for headings and logos. Popular brands that have gone this route include Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, Ford, Cadbury, and Cadillac. Instagram is another brand that opted for a script typeface and used lettering that closely resembles the Billabong typeface in its old logo.
These brands have used other script fonts that have a similar visual appeal to the handwritten style of the Billabong typeface.
How do I get a font for my logo?
There are many free fonts that allow for unrestricted use, including commercial use. You will find these to be available with many online tools, such as logo makers, but they can also be downloaded from sites like Google Fonts. If you want to use a font that requires a license, you will need to purchase the font before you can use it in your logo. Alternatively, you can search for similar-looking fonts that are free for commercial use.
What fonts do companies use for logos?
Are fonts free to use for logos?
Some fonts are free for commercial use and can therefore be used in logos free of charge, while others require users to purchase a license to use them for commercial purposes.
Can you use any font for a logo?
You can use any font that permits commercial usage for your logo. Some may be completely free while others need to be purchased before they can be used for commercial purposes.