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I created a logo using an M & C from Moonhouse font. I modified them letters to suit their brand, but the basic shape is still recognizable. The company name is in Goodtimes font, to indicate that the company is modern and is moving towards the future with it's technology.

They want their tagline underneath the company name to be in yet a different font, Sansation. I do like Goodtimes and Sansation together, but it is just too conflicting, too busy with the logo.

My clients don't quite understand why simple is better and I am out of explanations to convince them with. I am much better at the art side of design than justifying how the principles of design work.

How can I explain to my client that more than two fonts in a logo is a bad idea?

Any ideas would be much appreciated, thank you very much.

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4 Answers 4

I would first ask myself, why is the client picking typefaces at all? Are there brand standards in place I have not been made aware of?

For the record, there's nothing which states two or three or fifteen typefaces are too many for a logo. If designed well the quantity of typeface variation is irrelevant. If you can pull off a great logotype with six fonts I doubt anyone will "ding" you for using too many typefaces. Simple is generally better, but ultimately it's the final imagery which is of primary importance.

Often I find clients micro-manage in this way because A) they want to feel included in the processes. Which is actually great. and B) the client isn't being directed in a proper manner.

You need to treat the clients correctly and while giving them choices, give them directed choices. If your client is aware of "dafont" then you've got a battle on your hands. You need to provide solid conceptual designs and direct the client to choose between then, not allow the client to go off looking for anything and everything they feel may work. You need to ask "Out of these three, which do you like better?" not "What font would you like to use?" -- Directed choices rather than open-ended choices.

Looking at the three fonts you cite in your question....

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

The general thing about all three is that they are merely sans serif typefaces. None of which are that outstanding to me, personally. Moonhouse would appear practically unusable for anything other than small display type or as you indicate alteration for a small mark. I understand Moonhouse was altered and used for the primary mark. If that's the case, hopefully it's altered to a point where the actual typeface isn't very recognizable and hopefully it's just a few letters or a very small word (hopefully all uppercase without the horrible uppercase "q", "s", or "g" in it).

I would then suspect the client is asking for a third font (Sansation) because the secondary font you've chosen (Good Times) doesn't have lowercase characters. If the client wants upper and lowercase characters, then they simply can't use Good Times.

So, what I would do as a designer is listen to the the client and their unspoken desires not necessarily the specific type choice they are citing. It would appear to me as though your client is asking for a more versatile use of type rather than all uppercase, all the time. I'm somewhat guessing without seeing your actual use, but if you've utilized Good Times at all.. I know it's all uppercase and Moonhouse is just down right ugly in lowercase form. Chances are, the client won't ever know the difference between Sansation and Helvetica or Futura or Din or any other of a thousand sans serif typefaces.

I would find a sans serif typeface which has both upper and lower case letters and works well with your primary mark image. I would dump Good Times as a choice entirely. It offers very little in terms of necessary characteristics for a "tag line" and in fact, the broken strokes, and all uppercase aspects of that typeface would decrease readability in a logotype.

I'd find three sans serif typefaces and mock up the logo using all three as the tag line typeface. Play with varying weights rather than typefaces. Set the main tag line in TypefaceA Black, then the secondary tag line in TypefaceA medium italic - that sort of thing. Be aware, if you are restricted to using free truetype fonts, you may not find many with face variations suitable for use. It may mean you need to invest in some better typefaces so you aren't restricting yourself in the design.

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+1 and damn you beat me to it, I was looking forward to starting an answer with "Your client choosing fonts for you is like you choosing spanners for your mechanic" –  user568458 May 20 at 19:00
    
@WhoeverDownVoted ....Please explain the down vote. I'd like to know where I'm incorrect so that I may revise or explain more accurately. –  Scott May 20 at 19:23

Right or horribly wrong, Mrs. Important (your client) calls the shots

This comic does a decent job of describing your situation. Meet Mrs. Important. Every designer encounters a client or boss like this at some point.

enter image description here

If you give your client the facts, and you offer your expert advice backed up by good design principles, your job is done.


State the facts, and also your expert opinion. It matters.

How can I explain to my client that more than two fonts in a logo is a bad idea?

Give your client the facts. Give him/her your honest advice in a straightforward manner, and that's all you're expected to do. Your client pays you to make these decisions. If he chooses to ignore your expert advice, you can't help that.

You shouldn't enter extended argument if your client is adamant after receiving the facts, like Mrs. Important in this comic. Once you give your client the facts, and your intuition backed up by solid design principles, it's up to him/her to make the decision. If he/she chooses badly, you aren't responsible.


Your opinion & design principles vs Mrs. Important's opinion

Design does indeed revolve around many principles, however, the primary principle involved is your client's opinion.

Your opinion, regardless of how strongly based on design principles, won't always change the mind of a determined client.

The number of fonts acceptable for a logo is not defined strictly by a principle, but rather by your opinion, based strongly on any number of these principles.

Base your information on good design principles, (see link) state the facts, and you've done all that you can.

In the end, it's up to your client to decide whether or not to heed the expertise that he/she pays you for.


Mrs. Important decides that she knows best

I am out of explanations to convince them with

It's never ever a good idea to enter extended argument with your client.

Proceed professionally:

  • Suggest that your client trust your skill & intuition as a designer, and allow you to make the call on this one. Do this in a friendly, open minded way. Accompany this request with the assurance that you are completely willing to meet the client's wishes.

  • In the case that ignoring your advice might lead to problems down the road, you want to make a note of this suggestion / request, to insure that you are not later held responsible for the customer's mistake in not trusting your judgement.

  • Your client can either accept or decline your (reasonable) request. Afterwards, I suggest that you proceed with an "I'll get right on it." regardless of which option your client chooses.

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I'd disagree. You just need to speak "Mrs Important"'s language and understand his/her priorities. They won't listen to abstract talk about design principles, but something like "We're not maximising the power of your message the way your competitors are. Look, your competitor's logo speaks with one clear, powerful, consistent voice. To speak louder than them, our logo also has to speak clearer" [adjust according to client] –  user568458 May 20 at 9:55
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...and particularly Alan G's tips here, especially "Don't ever make the client wrong, especially when they are" –  user568458 May 20 at 10:03
    
I've updated the answer to heed the great advice by Alan G. –  CuriousWebDeveloper May 20 at 19:14
    
@user568458 I don't feel like an expert in any field should "dumb it down" for the client. A client should be given the facts and all reasoning behind it. "Your competitor's logo speaks one loud consistent voice" is an abstract, personified version of a statement that could be straightforward, factual, and honest. –  CuriousWebDeveloper May 20 at 19:18

Well, you CAN explain that its a bad idea, if it really is. But it doesn't necessarily make a bad logo just because there's two fonts faces in it.

What you CAN do, however, is do a full research on your client's market and competition and then present him/her your findings. What kind of font faces do they use? What kind of form and colors does the competition use? How can you improve that or even change that? Show all that in numbers. If you can, do a customer research. If not, just really build up your defense - but don't do it based on your personal opinion of what you think it's ugly or pretty. Do it because if your client choose to have more fonts in his/her logo, he's probably going to look like every other John Doe in the market and you want his company to stand out in the long run.

Also, some tips for you: design is NOT art. That is called illustration. Design is making things work, including your customer's brand. I recommend you start thinking more about that instead of just becoming good at the "art" part, because that's only the "wrapping" of the product. Ultimately, if you just think about the "art" part, you'll lack the words to defend your work, just like now, and that's when the client thinks he's an awesome artist and you're just a computer operator.

I highly recommend reading two books: Logo Design Love, by David Airie and also reading his articles on his blog. REALLY helpful.

http://www.davidairey.com/clients-need-a-brand-not-just-a-logo/ http://www.logodesignlove.com/logo-design-tips

And The Design Method, by Eric Karjaluoto - which explains just that: the business of design and that it's NOT art.

Good luck!

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+1 It's definitely a good idea to make things tangible and factual, and showing clients what you're saying in the context of their competitors helps them see why it matters –  user568458 May 20 at 17:13

If all else fails, explain visually. Design it their way, then provide one or more other better designs, and present them all, asking which one they prefer. Present them in place on pages, stationary, and elsewhere they would use the logo so they see how jarring it can be to have several typefaces in front of the user at once.

You should do this seriously, and try to make their recommended version as nice as possible.

Then let them choose and move on. Yes, you are the designer, yes, you know better, but once you've explained to them and shown them the results of their choice, let them make their choice. Holding on to a disagreement is not going to be productive.

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