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Download the Outfit font from Google Fonts here.
When defining a brand, it’s essential to consider many things: brand pillars, brand architecture and brand visuals. And one of the critical pieces of your brand’s identity is its font. A font helps a brand become instantly recognizable and stand out from the crowd, making it memorable.
While many brands choose a font already in existence, Outfit (now Brandfolder Content Automation) decided to commission one. But a lot of factors go into this decision — so how does a brand decide whether to create a custom font? And if a brand does decide to create one, what are the important factors to keep in mind? The strategy can be complex and vary greatly from brand to brand.
Why Create a Custom Font
We use the written word to communicate so much, so it’s important to consider how your brand comes across visually, even when your logo and colors aren’t at the forefront. A signature font helps connect your brand's elements, from the photography to the logo to the tone of voice, amplifying that signature identity at every step.
As you select a font — and do consider creating a custom font — there are a few things to keep in mind.
First is typographical voice. The goal here is to reinforce your brand’s personality and amplify its recognition and attribution. A custom font gives you more control over how your typographical voice comes across and creates greater intentionality.
Carousel images on LinkedIn or Instagram are examples of typographical voice. While using your logo on every image may be overly redundant, your unique font gives the viewer a familiar cue to associate the content with your brand.
Another vital thing to consider when selecting a font is where you and your team will use it. Charles Bigelow, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, explains that it’s important to think about the medium in which your font is used or the variety of font sizes you will need. Does the software for those mediums support your font?
And if it is supported, is it optimized? A custom font allows you to control where your font is supported, as well as the optimization of the font itself for your marketing collateral, all working to ensure your brand remains in alignment with your identity.
We see this example play out by looking at IKEA. IKEA created its iconic branding with the Futura font, establishing its identity early on with its signature print catalog. But in 2009, IKEA transitioned to the more widely supported (specifically for screens) Verdana font. In an article for The Atlantic, Bigelow specifically observes that when some fonts optimized for screens are translated to print, they “make the text image look too big, too strong, too aggressive and too simple.” Though IKEA’s shift to Verdana was widely criticized, it was a decision made out of pervasiveness and utility.
One last consideration in selecting a font is where you would host it. The power of hosting it within global software companies such as Google Workspaces and Figma should not be underestimated. Having your font readily available to anyone is key to increasing its use. Additionally, hosting it within a powerful software provides a competitive advantage: Your competitors will see it as they scroll through the font choices.
Look at Google Workspaces as an example. Say everyone on your team creates presentations in Google Slides. In order to use your brand’s font in Google Slides, it needs to be hosted in Google Fonts. Having a designer go in every time and update everyone’s presentations with the appropriate font isn't exactly productive. Nor does it help your brand identity to have everyone using different fonts! So making sure that the font you select for your brand — custom or not — is hosted within a global software company should be a crucial part of your decision.
While creating a custom font won’t make or break your brand, it certainly can impact how it’s positioned, perceived and interacted with.
Why Outfit Created a Custom Font
When Outfit decided to create a custom font, they were in the process of a complete rebrand. One of the key factors in the decision was understanding the importance of font choice. Outfit already had a unique logo, and in considering fonts, they knew they wanted to create a visual relationship between that logo and the copy an audience would see on a page. This also would allow their brand to reach more types of content, specifically allowing their brand to appear where a logo may not be supported.
And what sealed the deal? Outfit’s primary audience was a marketing audience — a group with great respect for design. The Outfit team knew that creating a custom font would resonate with their target audience. So custom font it was.
Outfit established three goals in creating their font:
- Create a typeface they could own.
- Get the font into the places and spaces they rely on for business (i.e., Google Workspace).
- Become an aspirational asset for designers with Outfit’s customers, community and partners.
One of the primary ways they achieved these goals was by making the Outfit font available for free for anyone to use on Google Fonts. This aligned with the team’s values of empowering their own team and their audience. And it also meant that the Outfit font would be available to choose from and search for on Google Fonts (and also means it’s available on some competitors’ platforms).
How the Outfit Font Was Created
Outfit commissioned Rodrigo Fuenzalida to develop a new sans serif, on-brand Google font. Fuenzalida is an independent type designer with extensive experience in typography design, specifically regarding Google Fonts.
Outfit provided Fuenzalida with a brief outlining a few key elements of the proposed font:
- Create a geometric sans typeface.
- Integrate three elements of continuity, specifically 45-degree angles at terminals, rounded shapes and straight lines.
- Start with a medium-weight font that paired with the logo and could be adapted for thin and heavy variants.
Fuenzalida worked closely with Outfit’s designers and brand experts, gathering feedback from his screenshots, sketches and mockups. Then Fuenzalida and the team dove into details like how transitions (e.g., where a circle meets a straight line) would work.
“Initially, any client who comes to me with a set of rules, I try to deliver on those rules — but then as it evolves, it’s not just my work, it’s the collective mind of the whole team,” said Fuenzalida.
One piece that Fuenzalida insisted upon in creating the font was the use of tabular numerals, which ensure numbers have the same width.
“[Tabular numerals] should be a standard for many brands — they help so much in the communication of numerical data, and so many brands rely on that,” said Fuenzalida. “They’re not difficult to do and they go such a long way in communicating numbers and hard facts.”
What resulted was a (nearly) perfect geometric typeface inspired by the ligature-rich Outfit wordmark. However, an illusion of such was created where perfect geometry wasn't possible — most clearly seen with the font's rounded transitions.
Since Outfit used many data points in their communication, it was important to align numbers and text neatly. And the cherry on top? The tabular numerals also fit in visually with Outfit’s ’60s design aesthetic, making it the perfect match.
About the Creator
Rodrigo Fuenzalida is an independent type designer with extensive experience in the typography design space.
After studying and graduating in the design field, Fuenzalida worked as a graphic designer for about two years before going to work with one of his typography teachers. In 2009, he released his first commercial font, knowing nothing about that world then. Google Fonts accepted it, and working on type design nonstop has since become his primary focus. Fuenzalida started an independent type foundry and has released two projects to the retail scene. He describes his style as very geometric, and he likes calligraphy.
Crafting your unique brand identity takes a lot of collaboration — and that doesn’t stop once you have a defined brand. Check out our e-book on how to maintain creative control so you can keep your brand’s identity (and your creativity!) at the forefront of your work.