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I'm working on a set of ads designed to have a social media sort of feel. Generally, these ads have a header and a sub-header on a stock image. The brand has a specific header and body font that must be used on all Powerpoint presentations and websites, but I'm wondering if it's terrible branding-wise if I use different fonts that lend themselves better to the graphic feel of the stock image?

Are there well-known brands that do use multiple fonts in their ads? If anyone could provide some examples that would be fantastic. A few Google searches haven't led to anything much but I'm not sure what search terms to use, either.

Any and all advice appreciated, thanks!

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3 Answers 3

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As a general rule, if an identity program has a specified typeface, you should stick to it in all media. A particular campaign may have its own identity with its own fonts, different from the brand's usual typeface.

The reason for this isn't that style guides are binding or executives are stubborn, although both of those can be true, it's that repetition builds recognition and is a fundamental of good marketing. It's why you don't change colors in a logo or the positioning tag line in an ad campaign. Even a poor message will penetrate if it's repeated often enough.

If the stock image clashes with the brand typeface, I'd be more inclined to find a different image than alter the typeface, just as a general operating principle. Commercial graphic design is always informed by marketing, and is as useful as it helps market the product or company.

I'll advise a client to revise their marketing strategy or corporate identity if I can see it's not going to work, but not if they're successful with what they have. Even if I think I have a better idea, I wouldn't change something that's working.

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Thanks very much for the advice! This is definitely the underlying problem I'm having... but on a more general level I'm also wondering if it's common practice to use different fonts in ads too. –  rachteo Apr 11 at 18:59
    
No, it's not, for the reasons I outlined. Current campaigns being run by Apple, Google and Microsoft are excellent cases in point. The typeface is part of the branding. –  Alan Gilbertson Apr 11 at 19:06
    
Ah, okay, I'll accept your answer, thank you. Also, I'm not sure if I should ask this as a separate question, but is it common to have more than one typeface as part of the branding? –  rachteo Apr 11 at 20:28
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You'll find that it's typically up to the company whose brand you are representing. Some have strict style manuals that must be strictly adhered to, some don't have any kind of identity guidelines, and some have one that the old marketing director commissioned but the new one doesn't really use all that much.

You'd be best off asking the client how much it matters to them. If it really matters and you don't have the font, you're within your rights to ask for permission to expense a font license so you can do the work for them.

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Hmm... the company isn't very clear on their identity guidelines yet. Is it common for well-known companies to use multiple fonts in their ads? I'm going to edit my question to include this question too, thank you! –  rachteo Apr 11 at 18:11
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Alan perfectly explained the norm for well executed branding. Consistency is king when is comes to hammering a brand into the public's mind. Beyond simple reinforcement by repetition, a consistent face/voice/experience gives the impression of stability and trustworthiness.

But there's a loophole

You can also be consistent with variety. For instance, if the brand stands for fashion, creativity, or subculture there may be equity in regular change.

The best example (on a large scale) that comes to mind is Urban Outfitters. The only constant is change. It's perfectly in line with their hipster positioning.

Know your audience and you'll know what the right move is.

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