Google Fonts is an amazing resource for typography, especially when you’re working with a limited budget. Their library includes more than 2000 fonts that are specifically designed for online use and all completely free. The service is an excellent option no matter where you are in your branding lifecycle, but it is especially a no-brainer if you’re taking a DIY approach to crafting your brand.

Where do you start?

The depth of Google’s catalog is amazing on one hand, in that you have plenty of options to work with. There is no question that you will find typefaces that will work well for your brand. But at the same time, the sheer number of choices can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a design background to draw from.

How do you know what typeface is right for your brand? And beyond choosing one typeface, how do you pair fonts together? There are a lot of variables, so today I’m beginning a series where I’ll share a handful of pairing options that will get you started quickly. First up, I’m kicking things off with superfamilies.

What the heck is a superfamily?

A superfamily is a font family that includes a number of fonts that fit in to multiple classifications. That means within one family you might have fonts that are classified as both sans serif and serif, as an example. You could have more classifications or different classifications, but as long as there are two or more, that transforms a regular old font family into a superfamily.

When it comes to choosing fonts to pair for your brand, looking to a superfamily first is your best bet. Here’s why:

  1. Compatibility: The individual fonts were specifically designed to work together, so there is no question as to how well the combination will coordinate when paired.
  2. Flexibility: With a superfamily, you automatically have many styles at your fingertips. That gives you lots of options when it comes to choosing where, when and how to use each font.
  3. Ease: You will save so much time simply by choosing a superfamily to work with because it takes the guesswork out of font pairing. As busy business owners, this is one choice you can make to add a little bit of time to your day.

To get you started, here are a few of my favorites.

Source

The Source superfamily is Adobe’s first open source type family. It includes Source Sans Pro, Source Code Pro (a monospaced version) and Source Serif Pro.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Classifications: 3
  • Number of Font Styles: 22

IBM Plex

IBM Plex is actually the new corporate typeface for IBM worldwide. It was developed as an open source project by the IBM Brand & Experience team, and lucky for us, they’re giving us complete access. The superfamily consists of IBM Plex SansIBM Plex Serif, IBM Plex Mono and IBM Plex Sans Condensed.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Classifications: 4
  • Number of Font Styles: 55

Roboto

Roboto, Google’s signature family of fonts, includes 4 classifications: Roboto, Roboto Condensed, Roboto Slab and Roboto Mono.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Classifications: 4
  • Number of Font Styles: 32

Merriweather

Designed by Sorkin Type, Merriweather was developed with the intention of playing the role of a text face that is pleasant to read on screen. The superfamily includes both Merriweather and Merriweather Sans.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Classifications: 2
  • Number of Font Styles: 16

Alegreya

Alegreya was designed by the Argentinian type foundry Huerta Tipográfica and has won multiple awards. Originally created for literature, this superfamily includes four classifications: AlegreyaAlegreya Sans, Alegreya Small Caps and Alegreya Sans Small Capsl.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Classifications: 4
  • Number of Font Styles: 48

All of these options are versatile enough that they can work for any business, especially if you haven’t yet undergone a complete brand development process. The only rule of thumb you should follow when making your choice is to consider what feels right to you at this present time in the current state of your business. What one of these options feels like it reflects the vision you have for your brand?

By choosing any one of these options you’ll already be ensuring a level of professionalism that would be more difficult to achieve by attempting to select from the entire Google Font library.

And keep in mind, one of the best things about the state of web typography right now, especially when you involve Google fonts, is that this does not have to be a permanent decision. You will have room to change your mind as your brand grows and changes. So think about what feels right, trust your gut and a make a choice. In no time at all, you’ll be on your way to a more streamlined, polished and professional brand.