Naming font modifications

A client has ordered some modifications to one of my typefaces. The changes are minor and will be made to a couple of glyphs only. How do you usually handle the family name on these occasions? Do you add the client name to the original family name? Or do you add some sort of differentiator like “Alt”, “B” or “Custom”?
«1

Comments

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 844
    I don't think there are any standards for this sort of thing. Whatever works for you and your client should be fine.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,237
    Usually appending client name or something similar (e.g. if client wants if for some particular project or third party branding). Our preference is to put the client name after the regular font name, but sometimes they request it the other way round to make it easy for their design staff to find and use the right version in font menus.
  • I would just change the version number. I assume that if someone has used my font in perhaps dozens of documents they won't want to go through each of them changing the font. They will simply uninstall the old version of the font and install the new one, expecting to see the changes when they open any document. 
  • Get the client psychologically invested by letting them decide.
  • I would usually add a short, two or three letter suffix to the original family name. However, always ask the client first for their preference. They just may want an entirely new name. In any event, the modified fonts do need a different name, as John pointed out.
  • I appreciate your insights. I was already planning to discuss this with my client, I just wanted to get a clearer sense of what is common practice in these situations beforehand. Once again, thank you!
  • Bhikkhu PesalaBhikkhu Pesala Posts: 105
    edited March 17
    Bhikkhu, I disagree in the strongest terms. 
    You're entitled to your opinion, but the best solution is to ask the client, and let them decide. For me, it would be a nightmare if I had to change the font in any of the old documents that I opened because the font's name had changed. 

    Someone recently asked me to modify the ogonek accents in one of my fonts — you may recall the thread. I duly modified the position and design of the accents, and uploaded a new version, fixing a few more bugs in the process. 

    Even Microsoft made some changes to their fonts with Windows updates to fix some bugs, but they have not changed the font names: Verdana, Arial, etc., have had the same names for more than a decade.

    I think you disagree only because you're thinking about a different scenario entirely.
  • Minor changes that don't affect text flow might make a name change more trouble than it's worth.

    @Dave Crossland
    Space Mono is (eventually, I hope) going to get a fixed "M" and "W"* but even though that won't be an insignificant change, I doubt the font will be renamed...

    * https://github.com/googlefonts/spacemono/issues/1

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,237
    Someone recently asked me to modify the ogonek accents in one of my fonts — you may recall the thread. I duly modified the position and design of the accents, and uploaded a new version, fixing a few more bugs in the process. 

    Even Microsoft made some changes to their fonts with Windows updates to fix some bugs, but they have not changed the font names: Verdana, Arial, etc., have had the same names for more than a decade.
    This thread isn't about updates and fixes to fonts, it is about making customised versions of fonts, i.e. versions with distinctive features and behaviours that differ from the standard version. The standard version isn't being updated or replaced: the custom version exists alongside the standard version, for the use of a specific client, perhaps even for specific uses by that client.
  • Although sometimes the lines do blur, like when Treacyfaces updated their Arrow font with "true" Italics, but customers clamored for the slanted-Roman to be reinstated, so he ended up providing both.
  • Michel BoyerMichel Boyer Posts: 79
    edited March 17

    I have customized fonts for my own use using stylistic sets, so as to keep backward compatibility. I thought styles were standard for alternate shapes. Is there anything precluding such a solution when dealing with clients? If the font name is not changed, but the style is not available, then the font is clearly not the right one. And if the style is there, and if the font is guaranteed to behave like the original when the style is not active, then what other problem can be caused by not renaming than having to uninstall before installing the right copy when needed?

  • John Hudson said:

    The standard version isn't being updated or replaced: the custom version exists alongside the standard version, for the use of a specific client, perhaps even for specific uses by that client.
    John is right on this one. The client requested some changes that will not be available on the retail version.

    In this particular case, the client requested an alternative design for the G. This alternate G was already present in the font could be enabled under a stylistic set. Unsurprisingly, they were not aware of this and were quite surprised when I told them about it. Instead of educating all their employees on how to access a specific glyph on many different applications (Microsoft Office, CorelDRAW, Adobe...), they opted to commission me to create a specific version of the fonts that had the alternate G as the default one. To be honest, I completely understand them and would do the same thing.

    If the font name is not changed, but the style is not available, then the font is clearly not the right one. And if the style is there, and if the font is guaranteed to behave like the original when the style is not active, then what other problem can be caused by not renaming than having to uninstall before installing the right copy when needed?

    The problem is that a layperson will not be able to tell the difference between 2 different glyphs while busy with their corporate tasks. The company already had to license the fonts, and my fee for this kind of customization is far cheaper than the inconveniences they could face in the future. In fact, I believe is even cheaper than what they would spend teaching OpenType to accountants.

    I completely agree fonts modified for specific clients should have different names than the retail version.

  • I completely agree fonts modified for specific clients should have different names than the retail version.
    As long as that is what the client wants, that is fine.

    However, what if they don't want to explain to their employees that they must edit all of their documents to change the font to the customised one? The system admin can uninstall the original font, and install the new one, then the employees get a load of missing font errors! Or, do they keep both versions installed? 
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 844
    One advantage to giving the modified font a different name: Both the standard version and the modified version can be installed at the same time. It might seem advantageous to keep the name the same to avoid having to update older documents, but if the modifications to the font are such that they would cause document reflow, it will necessitate updating older documents anyway. And you won't have the option to allow the old documents remain as they were.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 676
    In cases where a client requires a modified version of a font, regardless of how small the change is, I add Custom to the family name. I have some fonts which have several Custom variations for various clients. Each client's Custom fonts have their own version numbers. The reason I use that particular word is that it makes it obvious to anyone using the font that they're not dealing with a stock version. If the client sends a job out to a designer and they already have the same font, it should be clear that the included fonts differs from the one that's normally available. A lot of fonts that clients request customization for are free fonts. The stock version may have already been installed on a designer's system so I think it's beneficial for everyone to make it clear that this font isn't the normal version.

    Since the fonts are always for in-house use, there's probably no chance of conflicts. I suppose a company using a Custom font could merge with another company using a different Custom version of the same font. Oh no, what have I done?!?
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 128
    We always always use the same convention.  Nameoffont_Nameofclient.  We do not let the client specify what they want.  We have a protocol we follow so we don't have future problems.  I've never had a client complain about it. This is good both for the reasons John mentioned and it also prevents the client's contractors from confusing the custom version with the retail version they may also have a license for.  
  • +1 for Nameoffont_Nameofclient (with a space or underscore, etc.).

    I’ve been told by a lawyer for a company I used to work woth that, if Nameoffont is a registered trademark, then putting anything new before Nameoffont weakens the trademark holder’s claim to that trademark, however slightly. So, a client might want Nameofclient_Nameoffont, but that was not something this lawyer could sign off on.

    (Of course, I should add here that I am not a lawyer, and this post should not be misconstrued as actual advice, since I do not have an understanding of how laws surrounding trademarks in any jurisdiction are specifically applied.)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 128
    +1 for Nameoffont_Nameofclient (with a space or underscore, etc.).

    I’ve been told by a lawyer for a company I used to work woth that, if Nameoffont is a registered trademark, then putting anything new before Nameoffont weakens the trademark holder’s claim to that trademark, however slightly. So, a client might want Nameofclient_Nameoffont, but that was not something this lawyer could sign off on.

    (Of course, I should add here that I am not a lawyer, and this post should not be misconstrued as actual advice, since I do not have an understanding of how laws surrounding trademarks in any jurisdiction are specifically applied.)
    Agreed.  We researched this on our own and found similar information.

    I have a recollection from when we first started doing this that the underscore is important (as opposed to just having a space) but I've long forgotten the research that lead us to this convention.  We never looked supper closely into the legal aspects of this naming convention so I can't speak with confidence about whether this is actually true about the trademark.

    I would argue that it doesn't matter.  This convention works for us and our clients and has been really useful as a license compliance tool.  We sometimes require clients who have very large group licenses for less than the full family (especially if their license covers contractors) to have a renamed font using this convention even if there are no modifications.  
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 128
    Also, to reply directly @Bhikkhu Pesala 's comment:

    I think it is super important to guard the name of our font as associated with the retail build.  Fonts get around, even those that are not top sellers, and we want to make certain that there is no misunderstanding about what the retail version is.  

    I'm sure there are some clients who will be really annoyed by having to change some layouts once but they are not the majority and, even if they were, they aren't being reasonable.  The clients who commission a modification to our fonts are often among the most high profile users of that given font.  The risk to the font brand if the retail build brand gets diluted is a far bigger deal than the inconvenience of a little work at the front end for the client.  Such damage to the brand can't be repaired.  
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 235
    Regarding name changes and Microsoft fonts. We try very hard to maintain the metrics of fonts when we update them. A bug has to be very serious or apply to an obscure glyph or font before we'd consider changing a character width. For fonts where the design/widths change we opt for a new name. Verdana Pro, Arial Nova being recent examples. We consider the version number important, but we don't expect an individual user to be aware of the version number.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 128
    @SiDaniels  This is interesting to me.  We're planning on releasing a new retail version of our Jubilat that will have three serious changes:

    1.  Changed vertical metrics so the descenders don't get cut off in versions of word processing software that are not exactly new but which came out more recently than Jubilat
    2.  additional latin language support like Vietnamese
    3.  wider spacing in the middle widths so it will work well in text settings and not be an exclusively display font

    Since this will not be backwards compatible with the current version we had planned on releasing it as a 2 build, as in the menu will read "Jubilat2"  or possibly "Jubilat 2".  We plan on giving the 2 build for free to all customers who have the current build, supporting the current build for a year or two but not selling it, and then eventually phasing out the old build while trying to be as nice about it as possible.  

    This has been a plan for quite a while so we have talked to a few people about it before we settled on this naming but I don't think there was anyone at Microsoft on our list.  What it amounted to was that there are really no good options and this seemed like the best of the bad.  

    It should be said that the point of the new build isn't simply to improve known issues with the current build.  We are hoping to increase its sales - especially with item #3.  Jubiliat has always done well for what it is (highly display serif font) and we think that it can do more if it's more broadly useful.  So, the naming is important in that it will effect messaging to customers who might have passed on Jubilat before and could take a second look.

    What do you think?
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 235
    edited April 22
    I think you're in a difficult position. To add "next", "pro", "nova" or whatever to the font name you need to add some significant upgrades. If you don't feel as if you are doing that then the "2" seems reasonable, but I don't think there's much in the way of precedent or convention for this. If future updates are planned then maybe "Pro" with a beta tag might be appropriate, but betas are not usually charged for.

    But ultimately if the metrics are changing I think a rename is appropriate so customers are able to opt in to content reflow.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 858
    edited April 23
    I've overseen the kind of upgrade Joyce describes and used "Family two" and "Family 2" depending on what felt right for the face. Pondering it now... since numbers are sometimes used for grades perhaps "Family v2" would be best generally. For me, Jubilation seems more like a "Two" than a "2" :)

    (I also published a lot of families as "Something One" which are single style families intended to be expanded later, but are not the Regular Roman style of what that family will be, so likely the rerelease full family will then be simply "Something" rather than "Something Two")
  • Dan ReynoldsDan Reynolds Posts: 94
    edited April 23
    IIRC, there are three official versions of Gerard Unger’s Swift (not including any clones, etc.). The first, designed for Dr.-Ing. Rudolf Hell in The 1980s, was digitized with IKARUS. The second version, drawn with PostScript Type 1 outlines in the 1990s, was called Swift 2.0, and Gerard distributed it himself. I don’t know how the actual font files of Swift 2.0 were named. About seven years ago, Linotype/Monotype worked with Gerard to update/expand/re-release Swift 2.0 as a font family in the Linotype library. This was named Neue Swift (like Neue Helvetica, Neue Frutiger [which in turn came out years after Frutiger Next], etc.).
  • ... 3.  wider spacing in the middle widths so it will work well in text settings and not be an exclusively display font
    ...We are hoping to increase its sales - especially with item #3.  Jubiliat has always done well for what it is (highly display serif font) and we think that it can do more if it's more broadly useful. 
    ...What do you think?
    Why not release a separate family as "Jubilat Text"?
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 128
    These are all really great ideas.  I'm going to respond one by one

    @SiDaniels It's not so much a question of whether this is an upgrade to something like a Pro (which you could argue it is because of the expanded language support) as the precedent we've already set when we did an Omnes Pro build.  When we did that we also added language support (and moved over to OTF) but the metrics were backwards compatible.  We want to differentiate this more since it will require changes to layouts.

    @Dave Crossland  Good idea!  Our company style guide is to spell out numbers one to ten already so it fits with the brand.  I know that @EbenSorkin will raise concerns about character count for custom builds though.

    @Dan Reynolds It shows how busy we are with Halyard that none of us thought of Neue Jubilat.  It's also a good idea, though has more characters than @Dave Crossland's idea.  But it has a flare to it that I like.

    @PabloImpallari I appreciate the creative thinking.  However, the bar for a new optical size name is higher with us, as the foundry of the man who designed Freight (though we don't own it ourselves).  This will make more sense in a few weeks when our new release, Halyard, comes out.  It has three optical sizes - each designed separately.  
Sign In or Register to comment.