Launch Timing

I've long been curious to figure out what are good and bad times of the year to launch typefaces.

Any insights?

Comments

  • I think that would be highly dependent upon the face and its intended use. One size does not fit all in the case of fonts.
  • I think how you position them in your posters, ads and promotions could be linked to a time of year ("back to school sale for design students"?) :).

    Or, perhaps, anticipating the timeline to develop advertising for seasonal events might make sense. 
  • I picked september. After most holidays, before the rest. Hope it's a good time!

    For the rest: I think a each period can bring some advances: For something scripty or ornate (if it's Latin that is!) a month or two before New Years, right on time for the real usage. For something neutral and workhorsey the coming month, since then most mayor corporations will start their reporting design. (which quite often will spark rebrands)

    And for the rest: It all falls in between, although there is definitely a lull in new design projects starting during the summer months. If you launch a typeface in those periods, your typeface might sooner end up in the inspiration folder, and perhaps forgotten when it's time to choose!
  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 93
    Is there ever a consideration for when users/companies are likely to have more expendable funds? For example, before the end of year holidays (Black Friday?) or maybe in the first quarter when bumps in salaries + bonuses happen?
  • Most companies, at least well-run ones, have budgets to allow for salaries, etc. Software would have its own account. Also, certain fonts might be part of a client budget. Numerous variables at work here so it's hard to pin down.
  • @JoyceKetterer Thanks for sharing!
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 636
    Font distributors take longer to launch fonts in July and August. If you launch in August, there's a good chance it won't be released until September. Also, I imagine a lot of type designers hold off on releasing summer projects until September to avoid those slow sales months. The result is that in the first couple of weeks in September, there'a a deluge of new font releases so that's a good time for your new release to get lost in the crowd.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 117
    edited August 22
    @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.  
  • @JoyceKetterer To be clear: you're saying that the big money is in corporate branding, and that's slow enough to make release timing moot?

    This brings to mind another question:
    Don't corporations avoid branding using a retail font that's been around for a while?
  • 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.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 117
    edited August 22
    @Hrant H. Papazian that's not what I was trying to convey.   

    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.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 626
    Ultimately, the best time to launch is when the font is done - with the exception of July and August when you shouldn't launch.
    Or December.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 117
    edited August 22
    @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.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 626
    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.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 117
    edited August 22
    @Kent Lew I'm not endorsing releasing in December.  Just not saying it's as bad as August.  Probably I'm still feeling burned from 5 other releases the same week as Halyard.  We got only a day of buz.  From where I sit a slower week even in a less desirable month might have been better
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 699
    edited August 24
    FWIW, in the sales figures of FF Ernestine (which launched in December of 2011) there's been a distinct spike in Quarter 2 sales... My only explanation is that schools like Ernestine, and they have to spend their money before Summer. But who knows.
  • @Dave Crossland Nice stuff, Dave, thank you! Would it be possible to see such graphs for Google fonts?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 823
    edited September 6
    Dave: Would it matter if you search "font" rather than "fonts"? Checked: It does change; the line flattens around 2009, not so much declining.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,172
    Dave: 

    This is somewhat a different topic, but interestingly I've seen that, over the long term, it seems interest in fonts has trended down in the last 20 years. Here's the long view on Google Trends is from 2004 to today.

    I wouldn't equate frequency in Google search terms as a straight equivalence with 'interest'. If we look at what has happened during this period in terms of the concentration of font distribution channels and the success of those channels in marketing themselves, it's possible that fewer people are searching for 'fonts' because they've already figured out where they go to find fonts.

  • @Dave Crossland Nice stuff, Dave, thank you! Would it be possible to see such graphs for Google fonts?
    This is all public data and I linked the sources under the images
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 699
    edited September 7
    @Dave Crossland Does that mean No?  :-)
  • It means anyone can look for themselves
  • Also, this is interesting (singular rather than plural on the book search)
    You can combine those hits by appending wildcard * or _INF.

    Also, comparing the decrease in "font" and simultaneous increase in "typeface" to their combined total shows that it might be the terminology shifting from the DTP age "font" to the more distinguished "typeface" term, without an actual decline in the volume of the results.

    While it does inform to the purchase timing, all in all this says little about the industry as a whole.
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