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Google Drive’s Newly Developed Font Prizes Fast Reading – Should Your Brand Do the Same?

Tech

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The new font focuses on geometric shapes and smooth lines to expedite the reading process.

We are excited to announce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2020 theme HUMAN.X to life at our global conference in New York on May 5-7.


How long does it take a reader to get through your content?

As content creators, we’ve taken on a number of measures to ensure that this number is as small as possible: estimated read times, thorough synopses, and even multimedia interpretations on a topic. The Google Drive properties—Docs, Sheets, and Slides—have taken a different approach to this challenge…the introduction of a new font.

The new font family, called Lexend, features eight variations on a sans serif font that was designed to optimize readability. Its designer, Thomas Jockin (who also developed the crisp Quicksand font), applied data from a number of studies to create a new, clean typeface that enabled quick comprehension and understanding. As brands and organizations, should our fonts be similarly designed? What would it take to create a font that allows people to simply and accessibly digest our content?

Fonts for Humanity

Lexend is a font that falls under what is called a humanist typeface. Its letters are inspired by geometric shapes, and it is incredibly difficult to mistake one letter for another. This unmistakeability is crucial when selecting a font to align with your brand. Venngage, in their analysis of brand fonts, says a selected typeface “should be easy to read and understand any text styled in your brand fonts…uppercase or lowercase, large or small, numbers or letters.” And while it’s possible that the density of your content is slowing down your reader, it’s also possible that the density of your text could be the culprit. How could your font choice be complicating that problem?

Saying So Long to Serifs

In addition to being a humanistic font, Lexend is a sans serif font; it lacks the decorative “feet” that are customary on fonts such as Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia. While these sorts of fonts are more traditional, and may lend a sense of gravitas to text, they can also be challenging for speed-reading, and are typically more difficult for some with learning disabilities like dyslexia to digest.

Sans serif fonts, in addition to offering a sense of modernity, offer more openness in characters and spacing. It can make your carefully crafted language easier and more accessible to any reader that comes across it. And in an industry that strives to develop clear messaging, the fonts we use should be considered in that process.

Satisfying at Any Size

Dynamic layouts, in contrast to the static nature of formats like PDF, mean that our chosen font may be manipulated by a user in order to be legible. The Lexend family of fonts is an attractive option because irrespective of size it remains legible, clear, and…well, attractive. For those who value both readability and beautiful design, it matters that we choose fonts to honor both metrics of success.

The new font is available now in Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and can be set as your default by selecting “More Fonts” from the font menu. But even if Lexend doesn’t end up being your font of choice, it can prove instructive as you evaluate your brand’s current style guide…and for whom it is a good choice. Evaluate the typeface you’re presently using with the following questions:

Are we currently using a font that similarly translates beautifully at any size?
Does it obstruct understanding or reading speed with serifs?
Does it prize legibility as well as readability?

As Hubspot’s Jesse Mawhinney puts it, “well-crafted typography is focused on function, and that function is to communicate the message.” Evaluating your current style guide, and exploring the possibility of a new one, could prove essential to helping consumers see, hear, and identify with your message through new—and unmistakable—eyes.

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