Friendly Fonts

Common traits of friendly fonts and what they convey

Friendly fonts are typefaces that can be fun, inviting, and show a sense of approachability and warmth. They are a natural fit for personal projects, kids’, and playful branding.

Friendly fonts tend to be more rounded, with relatively open shapes and generous spacing between letters. Openness helps to create a feeling of lightness.

Fonts of this category typically have curves, they can have rounded edges (think of Arial Rounded, a font that comes preinstalled with many computers), and they usually don’t have sharp angles.

Often, friendly fonts don’t feel formal or corporate and have a tendency to be loved and used by many people.

Research supporting the concept of friendly fonts

While there’s no in-depth research on what exactly makes a friendly font a friendly font, there are many studies on shapes, the underlying substance of type design:

– roundness is considered more beautiful
friendly atmosphere through geometric shapes
– understanding the role of fonts and their technical aspects

The content itself plays another important role when it comes to what kinds of shapes we imagine when we hear certain words:

The Bouba-Kiki Effect is a psychological phenomenon that illustrates how people tend to associate certain speech sounds with visual shapes.

Specifically, it has been found that a vast majority of people, regardless of their linguistic background, will associate the made-up word “Bouba” with rounded shapes and “Kiki” with pointy shapes. This effect has been observed in numerous studies and is thought to have implications for understanding the evolution of language and how sensory perceptions are interconnected.

Balancing friendly fonts in branding

Many friendly fonts are display fonts and therefore best used for headlines, pull quotes, and posters because they can be harder to read as body copy. When using these typefaces for headlines, avoid also having text fonts that seek attention. Instead, for your font pairing, select a serif font for text to add professionalism and sophistication to a brand style. Alternatively, a minimal sans-serif type with a geometric feel will stay in the design’s background and allow the friendly font to shine.

Another way to balance friendly fonts is by picking a color palette that’s a bit more muted in one direction, such as a dark green paired with a brighter blue; see the example “Pout,” reverse-contrast logotype, in the collection above.

Design tips to make a friendly font shine even brighter

To further enhance the character traits of a friendly font, try applying one of the following design tips:

  • Pick a welcoming color palette, such as a bright yellow paired with a warm red and a light pink.
  • If you can’t add too much color to your text, try a friendly accent color, for example for headlines. Color variation works exceptionally well when text is short and when not many other visuals, such as photos and illustrations, are present.
  • Type headlines in all lowercase letters instead of title or sentence case. Lowercase spelling adds approachability to any design.
  • Increase tracking. Tracking is the space between letters. If a word feels more airy and generous, it comes across as friendlier.
  • Bolder font weights of the same font family make an already friendly type even friendlier because bolder weights feel younger.