Paid vs. Free Fonts: Choosing Your Brand’s Typography

May 7, 2024

Choosing fonts for your business can feel like a huge obstacle. With the right context, Parson Lane can help you discern what’s best for you.

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There’s a lot of debate about the “right” way to use typography in branding, especially about whether it’s necessary to search the depths of a font library to find an incredibly rare font (whether that’s a paid vs. free font) for your brand.

Okay, I’ll cut right to it: there is no “best,” no “one size fits all.” Both have advantages and disadvantages, which I’ll explore in this article.

The only across-the-board “best” is to go with whatever typography your designer recommends. I know I may be biased, but there’s a reason you decided to hire a designer. It’s their job to know what will be true to your brand and make it appealing to potential clients and customers. The investment in professional fonts will often be worth it.

Most designers have spent hours upon hours researching and dissecting typography in the course of their work, so we have a solid understanding of why a particular font may be the best choice for your brand. The simplest and best all-around advice is to trust your designer.

Now to the nitty-gritty details of paid vs. free fonts. They’re both broad categories, so it’s my hope to bring some clarity to you on both fronts.

Free Fonts

Google Fonts

When it comes to free fonts, Google Fonts is the gold standard. Most Google Fonts are high-quality typefaces created by professional type designers and type foundries. You could think of Google Fonts as the “cream of the crop” of free fonts, but let’s not leave it there. Let’s explore Google Fonts’ pros and cons:


  • Great for ease of use on the web
  • Free to download and use on any website
  • Often available on platforms like Squarespace, Canva, etc.
  • Also available in Google programs like Docs, Sheets, and more.


  • Since Google Fonts is such a great service… pretty much everybody uses it. This makes it difficult to select a brand font that comes across as unique to your brand.
  • Some of the more popular Google Fonts, like Open Sans, are used on tens of millions of websites across the internet.

Adobe Fonts

Like Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts are high quality and created by professional typography designers. You could say Adobe Fonts is the “by designers for designers” branch of free fonts.

Pretty much any designer you ever work with will have a Creative Cloud subscription (Adobe has a chokehold on us all) so if your brand fonts are Adobe Fonts, future designers should be able to access them easily. Now that you’re considering the ease of accessibility for current and future designers, let’s talk pros and cons.


  • Many are available on common platforms like Canva, Squarespace, etc.
  • Easily added to most website design projects without having to host the fonts on your own site (which can slow down page load times)
  • Free to use with any Adobe Creative Cloud subscription


  • Many are not free to download apart from an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription
  • Like Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts are often overused, making it hard to differentiate your brand from millions of others

Other Free Fonts

Many, many other services exist that provide free fonts (think: websites like Some free fonts are created by professional type designers who are kind enough to release their work at no cost or as a demo, while others are created by hobbyists. This is the “life is like a box of [free fonts]” category. You truly never know what you’re gonna get.


  • Can certainly find plenty of gems here and there
  • Better chance of finding a unique font that isn’t overused vs. Google or Adobe


  • Many of the free fonts on the internet are fairly low-quality, maybe even wonky. For example, many free fonts were not created with quality kerning in mind. (Kerning is the space between letters, and unless the type designer pays close attention to this during the design process, you’ll end up with a font that has uneven spacing between letters—which makes text much harder to read.)
  • Many free fonts you’ll find across the internet are demo versions which are not licensed for commercial use.

Paid Fonts

Of course, ‘paid fonts’ is an incredibly broad category encompassing all manner of typography, just like ‘free fonts.’ But, by and large, you can expect to find higher-quality fonts if you’re willing to pay for them.

Paid fonts are valuable because they are designed by professionals who understand strong design, legibility, and usability. Professional typeface designers, like brand designers, are trained in their specialty and are incredibly adept at what they do. In my opinion, it’s often worth it to support these pros because you’ll be receiving a top-quality product. They will often offer additional variants such as a range of weights from extra light to extra bold, multi-language usage, small caps, true italics, accent marks, etc.

It’s important for your brand fonts to be flexible enough that they will last you well into the future across a wide variety of uses. If an italic version of your brand font doesn’t even exist… this will likely crop up as an annoyance (at best) for you at some point down the road. You can entirely avoid this problem by selecting a premium type family for your brand.

You can find high-quality, diverse fonts on platforms like Creative Market or MyFonts. Or, you can shop directly from your favorite type foundry! Some type designers I love are Violaine & Jérémy, Connary Fagen, Colophon, and Yeahright Type Studio.

In summary, the pros and cons of paid fonts are as follows:


  • High-quality and designed by professionals
  • Unique to your brand
  • More versatile and flexible


  • They’re not free

Will you choose paid or free fonts?

At the end of the day, it comes down to what works best for your brand. But maybe, even after all this, you’re thinking, “How am I supposed to know whether paid vs. free fonts work best for me?”

You might be at a place where your next step isn’t selecting fonts – paid or free. You need a designer. And if that’s you, it would be my joy and honor to begin the journey to what works best for your brand with you.

To start your branding and font selection journey with me or discover how working with a designer elevates your brand, check out all my services!

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