Ask anyone involved in legal marketing, and they’ve probably been face-to-face with a lawyer who insists on using bad fonts. Last night it wasn’t a lawyer making this kind of bad choice, it was the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
His mistake wasn’t a mild one. It wasn’t a bad call between sans serif or serif, or even an overly conservative fixation on Times New Roman. No, instead Mr. Gilbert’s choice was the ever mockable Comic Sans. The design pundits on Twitter were chuckling about it so much, CNN was compelled to cover the story. Really. Over a font choice!
It’s a mild-wakeup call for all of us. Not in terms of a potential embarrassment like this, but rather to reconsider the impression that different type face choices can make. That while some font choices support the credibility of the writer, making the wrong one – Comic Sans topping that list – can do real damage to the message. Need a refresher? Check out the website Typography for Lawyers. I can’t say I agree 100% with the advice, but a lot of it I do.
I’d also like to add a couple of my own tips:
- Establish management buy-in first. Who stands up to the Partner that wants to choose their own font? Or worse, wants to choose a new font every month? If the answer is ‘who cares…’, don’t bother investing your time creating standards.
- When possible, however, creating approved firm standards for font face style & typography can help. Embedding those standards into printed work, forms production, templates, etc. can save a lot of headaches. It can also reduce internal bickering; and support those individuals tasked with maintaining consistent application.
- For firms with a visual identity guide or style guide, be sure to include these font & typography standards. Define the font face usage not only in print materials, but also in digital placements. What are the acceptable line heights, kerning (space between letters)?
- Delete Comic Sans off of every new workstation your firm purchases. Nip those unsightly system fonts before they cause problems! :)