The Best Typeface for Custom Packaging

đź“ś Top typeface considerations for your packaging design.
• What is Typography?
• Type Classifications
• Choosing a Font Size
• Showing off your Brand’s Personality

In the world of packaging, the design can make or break your customer’s experience.

The different components that can make custom packaging successful are the structure, the artwork, and the typeface you use. 

Typography can be something that is easily overlooked but plays a crucial role in any packaging. Having the right typeface will work to reflect your brand’s personality.

A designer takes their time to consider the underlying relationships between the aesthetic of the text and what the text is trying to convey.

Typography can appeal to different moods, atmospheres and emotions depending on your typeface choices.

Let’s explore the basics of typography that lay the foundations for successful packaging designs!

What is Typography?

Typography is the technique of arranging letters and text to make it clear, concise and visually attractive.

In essence, when we refer to typography we look at the font styles, structure and appearance of text, beyond just packaging.

In summary, typography brings text to life.

It’s also an essential part of your packaging design considerations because it allows for your customers to gauge whether your brand stands out and if the information on the box is legible and worth their time.

Typography comes with its own dense terminology but its good to get started with a basic understanding of typeface classifications.

Type Classification

Type classification is essentially categorizing typefaces and fonts based on historical periods and key visual characteristics.

Distinguishing between these classifications allows you to condense your font options to a smaller range of choice.

There are generally 5 type classifications, each with their own distinct features and appeals. 

Serif

Serif typefaces have short lines that extend from the open ends of a letterform called serifs, hence the name.

Typefaces in this class are typically seen in your everyday documents;

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Essays

This type face is associated with historical, traditional and formal appeals.

Take a look at Evermore London’s candle boxes for instance.

The serif typeface “Sainte Colombe” expresses elegance and maturity throughout the box’s simple and minimalistic design.

Additionally, using embossing and foil stamping for the Serif typeface further enforces this luxury narrative as well. Sizing for this typeface is also an important factor to consider. The size can communicate various different narratives

Keep in mind how large the font size is.

Using larger typefaces makes a statement. So, using larger size fonts allows you to establish your brand name. This too allows for greater brand differentiation and visibility.

Sans Serif

Sans means “without a line” which makes this classification the opposite of Serif typefaces. This means Sans Serif is a typeface short lines or strokes.

This type of classification is a modern and simple approach to letterforms as sans serifs strips away the excess details.

With minimalism sweeping packaging trends, Sans Serif fonts may be the answer for you. Sans Serif communicates a more clean and minimalistic feel.

Sans Serifs can also display a youthful, approachable, and even high-end appearance.

You could say that sans serif typefaces are highly versatile, appearing in electronics packaging (Samsung, Nintendo, etc.) to luxury brands (Dolce & Gabbana, Micheal Kors, etc.)

Custom mailer bags for Okkaido backpacks.
Source: Okkaido

In the example above, you can see that the Italian backpack store Okkaido uses the “Boogie School Sans” and “Univers” typefaces to create a minimalist and modern aesthetic to reflect their products.

These fonts have been exceptionally successful for them, as their brand narrative is reflected through their typeface choice.

Script

Script typefaces are reminiscent of handwritten letters due to their fluid strokes.

Some script typefaces connect letterforms while others display varied stroke weights.

The typefaces in this class can be both formal and casual depending on the flourishes and strokes.

You can still see this typeface in a traditional application like wedding invitations.

There are many variants of script fonts out there, as you can see from the above images.

Pappas uses a traditionally styled script to emphasize an old-school, familiar vibe to represent their barbershop aesthetics.

KitKat, on the other hand, uses a casual, almost handwritten approach to exude playful energy for their chocolate bars.

This typeface is very versatile and can be used to convey various different narratives and appeals.

Keep in mind; using this type face successfully can be challenging. Make sure to use this type face with intent rather than for aesthetics.

Monospaced

Monospaced typefaces mean that every character in the font has the same width (this includes spaces and special characters) while other types have varying widths.

This type class has serif and sans serif variation options.

Hopewell product packaging featuring monospaced typeface
Source: Sum Saison

Monospaced type was invented to suit the requirements of typewriters.

Now, we see this typeface in computer programming. Keeping the width at the same level allows for very clear readability making it easier for programmers to spot errors in codes.

In terms of packaging, it is not the most common type to use since it takes too much space compared to fonts in other types of classes.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

If you choose this typeface, it’s best if you use it for short length text to ensure it will fit onto your packaging.

Display

Display typefaces, like its name, are made for display purposes.

Typefaces in this category can vary greatly and can take inspiration from other type classes like sans serif, serif, and script.

Most, if not all, display typefaces are not recommended for body text because their complexity makes normal sentences hard to read in smaller font sizes.

Imagine Château des Arras‘ “Intro Inline” typeface was used for the informational text on a box design.

It’d be hard to even read a couple of sentences using that font wouldn’t it?

So, always remember that display typefaces serve to grab attention rather than feed tons of information.

Choosing a Font Size

The font size will depend on the dimensions of your box, your target audience, and the typeface you choose.

For example, if you have a smaller surface area, you may need to have a smaller font size to fit all your informational details.

If you are targeting an older demographic, it’s best to have a bigger font size in order for them to read the text with more ease. 

In terms of the typeface, remember that fonts carry different weights, widths, and letter-spacing that can affect the text’s layout on packaging boxes.

Example of different font sizes
Source: Create ID

It’s also important to consider the material you are working on as ink has a possibility of bleeding, causing text to become hard to read.

If you ever find yourself having a tough time figuring this out, you can also seek the advice of a packaging specialist to help you make a decision with your packaging solutions.

Showing Off Your Brand’s Personality

Typography doesn’t always have to be the “Standard” look, especially when it comes to the brand’s or product’s name!

Sure the instructional information needs to be free of experimentation, but your product name can have some fun.

Kerning

Kerning is the space between two consecutive letters.

The space in between each letter can vary, some letter combinations will have less space, others will have more.

With kerning, you can adjust the space in between to create uniformity and prevent text from being misread.

Furthermore, if your brand or product name has a specific pronunciation that not many people know of. Kerning can be a great way to break up the text to ensure your customers are pronouncing the name correctly.

Diagram which shows the difference from kerning made by the computer and kerning that has been optically set
Photo: Pakfactory

Baseline

The Baseline is an imaginary line where most letters sit on.

Think of it like a lined notebook, we always try to write on that line to keep our alignment neat and concise.

For product titles, you don’t have to abide by the baseline, you can change up the elevation of some of your letters to create a playful tone on your packaging.

Take a look at I Dew Care’s products for example.

Notice that every alternating letter rises slightly above the baseline to create a sense of airiness and fun.

Furthermore, this heavily plays into brand differentiation as most packaging designs stick to the baseline.

Readability

Of course, you don’t want to get too crazy with your typographic layout, your information still needs to be clear and concise.

Imagine if all your text is in script fonts or your kerning was too tight and ended up creating a chain of endless letters.

You wouldn’t be able to read anything and that will prevent people from remembering your brand and in turn affect their experience with your brand and product.

There’s always going to be something to think about when creating a custom packaging experience.

Choosing between the different typeface classes is completely up to you!

Anything you choose should always prioritize your brand’s identity in order to make your custom box design worth while and allow your customers to indulge in your products.

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