Typography, or the style or appearance of text, is a critical element of brand identity. And as one of the most recognizable parts of typography, the font on your product packaging can decide whether you convert a potential consumer.
You may not think twice about the fonts used on food packaging labels, but they can make a huge difference in how consumers perceive your product. Fonts are more than just a way to spell out words—they’re an integral part of the overall design. Keep reading to learn how you can creatively use fonts and typography in your food product package design.
In the food industry, understanding font psychology is essential. Like color and imagery, this is one of many design element theories that are foundational to product packaging. As visual elements that pass important information along to the reader, fonts also carry hidden messages that can subtly affect how the reader perceives the text, regardless of the content itself.
Out of the half a million fonts that exist, each font holds a unique set of letters with varying styles, widths, and weights. Because many fonts share similar styles, they can be grouped into a typeface—or a collection of relevant fonts (more on that later). As such, fonts and their typefaces affect the brain in multiple ways: readers can interpret them as legible or illegible, sensible, feminine, sophisticated, quirky, and many other qualities.
Whether large or small, we’ve helped various food and beverage brands revitalize their products. Learn more about our food package design services.
To keep your products from sitting on the shelf all day, try the following tips for using the power of font to create a successful packaging design.
Using all caps on your food packaging label can create an authoritative feel that helps draw attention to important words or phrases, but it can also appear intimidating or aggressive if overused. A better option is to mix both uppercase and lowercase letters. The human eye tends to recognize letter characters more easily with this combination. Plus, this technique gives off a more welcoming vibe that encourages potential consumers to try out your product.
As previously mentioned, typeface preferences are another essential factor when creating food packaging materials because they evoke different feelings in consumers. A typeface is made up of distinguishable parts, such as serif, sans serif, ascender, baseline, cap height, letter spacing, stem, stroke, and many more. Typography is a vast, technical subject, but regardless, marketers should first understand what type of messages they want their food product to convey.
When choosing a font for your label design, you should use something legible that appeals to the senses and can quickly convey traits like taste and texture. Sans serif, generally considered more modern than serif typefaces, is often one of the best choices for labels because it is simple yet eye-catching.
However, these days you can often find that as more food packages embrace simplicity and minimalism, finding a font that showcases the personality of your product is a great way to improve brand identity and counter the overabundance of similar designs. In this case, consider options like slab serif and script, as long as they aren’t overly ornate or flashy.
There are instances when your brand calls for each subsequent product to have its own voice. This is where varying font styles can come in handy to help differentiate each product from one another. For example, if working with a food company that needs to create packaging that emphasizes the cultural importance of each part of the world the product represents, one font may not be enough.
However, be careful to not go overboard with multiple font styles. Combining multiple fonts can often create visual clutter, send mixed messages, and drive customers away.
As you select the perfect font for your food product label, consider experimenting with typography modifications that add extra emphasis to your message. Bold, italics, and print are timeless graphic design elements that—if carefully used—can naturally draw attention. These modification techniques are so commonly used that some fonts are simply variations of other fonts, just with typographical emphases. Take Times New Roman Italic and Helvetica Bold, for example.
Don’t forget about cursive, either. Cursive fonts have been around for centuries, and although they aren’t as popular as they once were, they can still be used effectively on food packaging labels if done right—like adding a touch of elegance and sophistication that’s hard to achieve with other types of fonts. Of course, the font should remain easy to read.
Along with picking the right font, location is everything to food product packaging. Your text should be organized in a simple enough way that doesn’t create an unpleasant experience for the customer, like having to tilt their head to read. Additionally, you should consider often overlooked location qualities, like:
- Hierarchy – Guide the reader from the most essential features to the least important.
- Whitespace – Without proper “breathing” space around the text to give our eyes a break, the packaging will look too busy.
- Text Alignment – Using left, right, center, and justified alignment is an excellent tool for increasing legibility.
- Imagery – Font is important, but it shouldn’t take over to the point that your food product has no creative imagery. Carefully place your logo and supplemental text in a spot that enhances your photos, shapes, etc.
While there’s ultimately no best font for labels, there are several ways to curate your typography to make your food product stand out to consumers. And if font psychology is too much to handle, thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone.
At Depersico Creative, we have the strategy to help your food products connect with consumers and compel them to make a purchase within seconds. As a leading design studio that specializes in food and beverage product positioning, branding, and package design, we built a hefty portfolio over the years. We’ve worked with brands like CheeseButta, Kickin’ Cajun & Backyard BBQ, and Teta Foods on curating the perfect fonts for their food products.