The lack of brand discipline is something we notice often when we work with small businesses. It can be very damaging.

Exposure of a consistent brand is essential to building name recognition. To achieve it, companies need image guidelines that all of their employees follow; these must include a company font to be used on all communications, presentations, etc.

That font will speak to your brand forever. To make sure it has strength, here are 12 fonts to avoid at all costs:

1. Comic Sans

No one is surprised that this is No. 1. Comic Sans may have been cute and playful once upon a time, but everyone and their mother has used it for homemade signs and logos, so avoid it like the plague. It should never be used in corporate settings.

2. Papyrus

You might think this has a “natural, beachy” feel, but it doesn’t. That has been worn off with overuse. It now appears stale and used up.

3. Copperplate

You think it’s strong and professional, and it’s just perfect for your law firm/accounting agency/serious business. If you want to look like everyone else in your industry, have at it.

4. Curlz

Going for the cute and perky look is not a bad thing for certain industries, but doing it with the same font ad nauseam does nothing but destroy your uniqueness.

5. Mistral

This one saddens me because, once upon a time, it was stunning and fresh. Sadly, like all of the other fonts listed, it has been beaten to death. Don’t be tempted; Mistral is like John Mayer—once deeply attractive but now totally overexposed. Keep looking.

6. Yearbook

Unless you are working at an athletic department circa 1945, run for the hills. Not every single high school on the planet has to use the same font.

7. Brush Script

Like Mistral, many think Brush Script has just the right amount of pizzazz; it doesn’t. At best, it was a pale imitation of Mistral.

8. Trajan

Too many people thought it was too cool, too many times.

9. Bleeding Cowboys

Whenwe first discovered this font we thought it was just as fabulous as everyone else who stumbles upon it. The problem is a font is not a logo, and this one is overused by “cool brands” to the point that it’s doing them harm—it’s becoming generic.

10. Bradley Hand

With all of the “hand drawn”-looking fonts, I don’t understand why we’ve settled on employing only a few of them. Sadly, Bradley Hand has become Generic Hand.

11. Cooper

We are sure this was the coolest font ever, in 1970 or 1920 (when it was designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper). But it isn’t cool and edgy now anymore.

12. Kristen

This font may be cute for school posters and youth events, but no font is effective for branding when it’s as beaten to death as this one.

It may seem like we are making a big deal out of something small, but for branding just as for everything else, the devil is in the details. Logos cost money because good designers don’t just rely on fonts to create an image that will speak to your brand and stick with your customer. No matter how cool the latest (or oldest) font may be, it’s totally uncool for your brand to use tired imagery.

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