To add to the existing knowledge shared here, to a certain degree all of it is moot in our current environment where it’s pretty rare for an uneventful week in U.S. and even world news. And you obviously can’t time for that. You probably won’t get a full week of attention either way.
In that sense, making releases that create medium- to long-term interest due to their actual design and presentation is much more important than the exact day or week you pick.
Ofir, I can think of essentially unlimited screen configurations and requirements that someone may be working within. It's kind of the furthest from given I can imagine. In any given day I might be on my 13" laptop, plugged into an external monitor, or using both. Some people use 2+ screens etc etc
Fair enough. First week or so can work. General wisdom and experience at Font Bureau, though, was that December releases were disadvantaged. We might release an expansion, because that was often aimed more at existing customers who were predisposed to pay attention. But not something new and exciting.
@Kent Lew you make a strong point but I hesitate to lump December in with summer. The thing about December is that we do always see a jump in traffic in the first half because there are definitely companies that are closing out the fiscal year and need to make purchases. That's a massive contrast to the deadness of summer. If you release in December you will get SOME eyeballs. Plus, you're not likely to be one of many foundries releasing that week/day which definitely sucks. So, less than ideal but not the black hole of July and August. The proximity to January (resulting in a low cost to wait) makes me want to agree with you and put a red X over it but I'm going to stop just short of that.
Timing is definitely something to think about, as I said in my first post. It's just not like you can release on black Friday and get a lot of sales by Christmas - at least in my experience.
Perhaps there are some fonts which really are consumer goods but for anyone who's asking this question and also talking about large companies I can definitely say they aren't. I'd be curious to know what @Dave Crossland has to say about this. I'd not be surprised at all if you get some sort of blackfriday-type effect with Google fonts - which are free to the user.
Speaking about Halyard, a January release is not the difference between success or failure - which is why we didn't wait for the next January to come around. However, had we made the January release I'm certain we would have shortened the lead time before it starts paying back our investment in it. Bad timing just means the font will take longer to get up to speed on sales.
@Hrant H. Papazian to your second question, I agree with Marc... This is not really an issue in our experience. We get a great deal of license purchases for branding that are straight retail even of fonts that have been available to the public around 10 years. The other thing that happens with some frequency is that we get a request for a custom font from someone who thinks as you suggest but can be talked out of it once we explain how long that will take. Remember, most people just have no idea how long it takes to make a font. Those folks can usually be talked into an existing font with modifications - which I count as a sale of that font in our books.
Of course, you can’t just lower the heights of your lowercase letters and expect proportions to still look right. Everything will start to look expanded.
Unfortunately, the kind of late-stage surgery you’re contemplating can be non-trivial.
For a starting point, you can try something like this:
Figure out what percentage you would need to scale down your lowercase to achieve the x-height you think you want. Then calculate the increased stem width you’d need to start with in order to end up with your current stem weight after scaling. Then calculate an extrapolation percentage between your Thin and Heavy masters that will get you to this extra heavy weight, generate that instance, and scale down to your target.
For example: say your Heavy weight has a lowercase stem of 200 and you want to scale down 90% to adjust your xheight. You‘d need to extrapolate an instance with 200 ÷ 0.9 = 222 stem weight. Say your Thin weight has a lowercase stem of 20. The difference between your Thin and Heavy stems is 180. To get to 222 stem weight, you need to add 22 units as a percentage of overall difference: 22/180 = 0.122; +1.0 for extrapolation = 1.122 = 112.2%.
In this example, you need to extrapolate 112% from Thin to Heavy, then scale 90%. Of course, you’ll then need to review, refine, and correct, but you might find yourself with a reasonable starting point for the redraw.
(With such a large starting differential in xht between your Thin and Heavy masters, you will end up with a slightly increased xht in your extrapolation, which will affect your scaling, and if the percentages are significant, you may need to compensate in your calculations.)
Of course, you can also find UFO tools that offer just this sort of multi-dimensional scaling/interpolating with an interactive UI — like UFO Stretch, for instance. Really, what you’re looking at is not conceptually different from deriving small caps — scaling while maintaining proportion and stem weight.
Hrant, when the company I worked for rebranded (twice in about 5 years, due to a merger), we went with retail fonts from a prominent type designer. While distinctiveness has value, it's just one of the considerations when choosing a corporate font. Price, language support, aesthetic suitability and licensing options are equally, if not more, important.
@AbrahamLee When you're talking about a company of any size, fonts are not an impulse buy. A branding change is a very big deal, undertaken after a long slow deliberation and requiring a great deal of effort to implement. This is why the conventional wisdom is that it takes 2 years for a font to really sell. You can't time a font release the way you time consumer electronics. Instead, you release it at a time when customers aren't in a frenzy and can notice it, you do what you can to keep it in their line of sight, and you wait.
@George Thomas I think that when you talk about a "software" account you're talking about an expense line item. Fonts can be an expense (if it is for a marketing campaign) but as often as not it's a capital expense (branding) and that tends to be the big ticket sales from our perspective.