Say you decide you want to start a business. No doubt, you would meticulously strategize the type of business you want to open and the consumer base you are trying to reach and develop savvy business plans to ensure your success.

Most entrepreneurs recognize the importance of everything from creating high-quality products and marketable services to hiring amicable receptionists to greet clients and answer calls, knowing the voice of their company is essential to their image. However, when all of those plans are set into motion, one of the things that should be more prominent on that new business checklist tends to be a bit of an afterthought.

The logo.

So, you sit down behind your computer and open up Microsoft Word (shudder) and type out the company name you have thought long and hard about for months (or even years), after casting many other potential brand names in the proverbial trash. Prior to starting this document, how much research have you done developing brand identities? How many times will you type out different options? How do you decide which font best suits the name which encapsulates your very dreams? How much time do you spend on this process–really?

Before anyone steps foot in your store, before anyone has requested your services, before anyone is even greeted by your friendly receptionist, you will speak to them through your logo. What is it saying?

Chances are, you were prompted to start a business because you felt there was a need in your community. You possess knowledge in an area of expertise where others lack. You are a professional who knows what you’re doing and believes that your customers will trust in your skills. But unless you are opening a graphic design firm, you are probably not an expert in brand design. Just as you would want your customers to refer to you in your field–you are, after all, an expert–you should refer to experts when developing your branding plan. Of course, we’re going to say we have these kinds of experts at ZOG and tell you to give us a call, but we’re also going to teach you how to fish.

There are plenty of resources out there if you so choose to create your own marketing materials. For starters, you are not confined to the font list that drops down from your Word palette. Sites like Google fonts or www.dafont.com run the gamut of web-safe and print-ready fonts, are ready to download and are totally free. (Note: Some fonts on dafont are classified as “free for personal use,” so we wouldn’t recommend using these on branding strategies, but they are great for your family Christmas cards or party invites.)

Below, you’ll see some examples of standard and heavily overused fonts that you have most likely seen before. Along with those examples, we’ve included comparable but unique alternatives to these fonts. Don’t let your brand get lost in the clutter of all the generic type out there. Get out of the comfort zone and explore. You may even have some fun.

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