Premium Logo Fonts – Why You Should Use Them + My Favorites

For the longest time I fell into the trap of thinking free equals good, especially when it comes to fonts for designing logos. But lately I’ve been coming around to some of the more premium logo fonts and using the free alternatives less often. Maybe being exposed to the design world for so long has jaded me, but I’m starting to realize that there’s a certain stigma attached to free fonts, and it can be a little damning depending on who’s watching.

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The Hidden Cost of Free Fonts

The overuse of free fonts diminishes their professional appeal

Free fonts tend to be overused and abused by amateurs and beginners. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just sends a broadcast that indicates where your standards and/or level of expertise is at as a designer. Whenever I see amateur design work (and there’s nothing wrong with being an amateur — I’m just trying to help people get past that stage,) it’s usually paired with overused fonts like Lobster, Pacifico and Bleeding Cowboy. These fonts have been paired with poor design work so frequently that the way we perceive them has shifted, even if they’re objectively nice in style.

The Lobster font usually works well in a vintage/retro context

Lobster is a great example of this. I automatically associate it with amateur design and refuse to use it for any of my client work, even though it’s an otherwise nice font. I feel like I’d be doing my clients a disservice by letting them represent their businesses with something that is associated with low standards. It has essentially been rendered useless, even if used in a flattering context. And some of the most popular and distinct free fonts have suffered the same fate. They’ve been ruined purely because of how easily accessible they are to the public.

Upgrade to Premium and Upgrade Your Brand

Unlike their no-cost alternatives, premium fonts are less accessible. The only people who get to use them are serious designers who have invested in their craft. This is why premium fonts tend to appear more unique, exotic, and are generally associated with quality design — because they’re being used by experienced designers who know to avoid overused free fonts. So the take home message of this post is if you want to elevate the quality of your work and set a higher standard that will enhance how it’s perceived, using the tried and true premium fonts is a good start.

Premium logo fonts

I recently changed the font of my own branding from Tex Gyre Adventor to Avant Garde. The difference may seem subtle at first, but the premium font just seems to offer more impact.

It’s like preparing a meal — if you want to impress someone with your culinary skills, using high quality ingredients is probably a great start. If you want a sturdy house that won’t blow over when the Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs, don’t construct it out of straw.

Likewise, if you don’t want your logo designs to look amateurish, invest in some premium logo fonts. This is especially true if you want your work to be perceived well by peers, hiring managers, art directors, and accomplished clients who have worked with creatives on many different occasions. I can’t imagine an experienced designer — or someone who assess designers — not feeling the same way. You rarely see free fonts being used in the logos of the world’s biggest brands, and I’m guessing that’s not an accident.

My Top Premium Logo Fonts

Here’s a few tried and true classics…

Avant Garde

Avant Garde is my favorite premium font and my font of choice for my own logo. When I see Avant Garde, the following words come to mind: simple, timeless, versatile, neutral, impactful, professional. These are qualities I appreciate.

Microgramma

Microgramma was developed back in the 60’s, yet it has somehow stood the test of time and worked wonderfully in technical illustrations ever since. When you think of technology, you tend to think of “new”, and Microgramma communicates that despite being old.

Gotham

To quote the Wiki page, “Gotham is a family of widely used geometric sans-serif digital typefaces designed by American type designer Tobias Frere-Jones in 2000. Gotham’s letterforms are inspired by a form of architectural signage that achieved popularity in the mid-twentieth century, and are especially popular throughout New York City.” Gotham may actually be most famous for its use in the Obama campaign of 2008.

Helvetica

What would graphic design be without Helvetica? The Swiss typeface, developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger, is one the most famous and widely used fonts today.

Futura

Countless famous brands use the Futura font, or some variation of it at least. Best Buy, USA Today, Absolut Vodka, Cisco and Crayola, to name a few.

And there’s many more to choose from — more than I could possibly cover in a single post. My advice would be to shop around a bit, get a list together of some of your own favorites and start enticing your clients to level up their branding with premium logo fonts.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

All stories by: Nick Saporito
8 comments
  • Nick

    Just to clarify – I still think specific free fonts are great and have their place in quality design. The fonts that seem to be a problem are the ones that are very distinct and charismatic.

  • Albert G.

    I still kinda feel weird using free fonts not just because they are used and abused just scared because of what rights I have over them. So I tend not to use them in my art work etc. or shy away from them and sign them or whatever with a tablet. Anything that’s got to do with copy rights just bores me to to death and don’t deal with it, I just can’t comprehend it.
    But I know fonts are important for logos and everything around us. Great post and thank you.

    • Nick

      I was considering doing something like that, but the further I look into font design the more I realize just how much I don’t know about it. It’s an entire skill in and of itself and mastering it enough to make a decent font seems like it would be very time-consuming. Maybe one day down the road. Thanks for reaching out though. I’ve heard a lot about FontForge.

  • David Willmann

    Hey Nick,
    when you use a premium font in a logo design, it perhaps will also be used in terms of corporate design. Does it mean that your client also has to buy that specific font in order to go with your design concept?
    I’m just working on a CI for a small company , and in my case I use a complete font family, for the logo itself, but any kind of text also comes from this specific family (like on business card, leterhead, website..).

    By the way, thank you a lot for your great work, it inspires me and I learn so much from you. Just looking forward to get started with your logo design course 🙂

    Kind regards,
    David

    • Nick Saporito

      Hey David, it depends on the license you bought for the font. I know most of the fonts you can buy at Creative Market usually let you use it for client work, as long as you convert the lettering to paths/curves before sending it to the client. It’s the font file itself (the software) that is copyrighted, not the actual design of the letters. Letter designs can’t be copyrighted as far as I understand. As long as you don’t send the client the actual font file itself or embed it into a document (like a PDF) you should be alright. If the client wants to use that font they will have to buy a license for it and download it. It’s illegal for you to transfer it to them.

  • Tahlia

    Hey Nick,

    I’ve been browsing the web for an answer to my question and I’ve found nothing so I thought I might try my luck with you!

    When I am designing logo concepts for my clients I want to use premium fonts but I am also worried that if I purchase a premium font for the sake of a concept and the client doesn’t end up going with that concept then it’s a waste of money. How do you go about this?

    Thanks
    T

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