In your opinion, what are the key advantages for an exclusive corporate typeface?

  1. Savings…
  2. Exclusive
  3. More identifiable even without a logotype
would love to read your opinions!
Thanks!

Comments

  • Depending on the terms, no future costs or license maintenance as the company grows (in desktop users or web visitors).
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    Branding carry-over to all visible text. Central support by in-house techs. Incorporate corporate logo and all other branding graphics so no clip art required.  Assured quality control.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 960
    4. Knockoffs encouraged due to lack of legitimate method of purchase.
  • 5. Design, character content and functionality will meet client requirements to 100%.
  • Ray, do you mean discouraged or encouraged?
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    edited July 2015
    I think custom type is usually not motivated by saving a few pennies on the cost of licensing existing type; my experience is that when a client wants to license a retail family for unlimited usage, foundries are very willing to negotiate special per-client license with an amortised cost that is less than that of building out a new family to the same level of finesse as the best retail work; and the retail font is on the shelf, ready to roll, not 6+ months out. 

    I agree that the 'license maintenance' that Stephen mentions is a risk that can loom large in people's minds... in the future some new kind of usage will come up that may not be permitted, and a new license will need to be negotiated, and the foundry has leverage over the client in proportion to how closely the brand is associated with the font. But I'm not sure how often that factors into the decisions to go custom... I mean, if the foundry is reasonably priced this time round, it seems likely to me that they will be reasonably priced next time round. There's a massive imbalance in scale between a multinational corporation of thousands and a less-than-ten people foundry company means that a big retail fee of say $25,000 doesn't need more than 1 or 2 levels of line-management approvals to sign the cheque; and 10 years later when the new license is needed, the managers have churned over and another $25,000 isn't a big deal.

    Instead, I think the primary reasons to create new brand typefaces is as Andreas says, that you get exactly what you want. I'm not sure how often this is about voice; can it really be true that that none of the gazillions of existing typefaces can carry exactly the right voice that the brand wants to speak with?

    I think it is more that the retail fonts, while perfectly suitable as designs, are missing things that the clients wants - and primarily this is Andreas' character content. The biggest * custom type projects in the last 10 years were for supporting a truly global list of languages spanning all the markets the company sells into. Eg, Nokia "Pure," Google "Noto," Vodaphone "InterFace" (?), Sony "SST." 

    * By biggest, I mean both in terms of revenue to the foundry and of type production labour. But this motivation is also important to such projects on a smaller scale; I saw a nice presentation by Jean-Baptiste Levée on "Air Inuit Sans," and a lot of brands are listed in http://www.indiantypefoundry.com/clients/ that have commissioned custom Indic type which I have the impression are Latin + Indian, and http://ektype.in have a similar sort of client list (unpublished)
  • James MontalbanoJames Montalbano Posts: 934
    edited July 2015
    Having draw a shit-load of custom type over the years, I'll say that the most important reason is EASE OF USE. If you compare what the per font license fee is for a corporate "Enterprise" license for an "off-the-shelf" font product vs the fee for a "custom font", you can argue that the client is basically paying for the license fee and getting the "Custom" design gratis.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 463
    If you buy a bespoke suit from a good tailor, you can get a perfect fit.
    I'm not sure how often this is about voice; can it really be true that that none of the gazillions of existing typefaces can carry exactly the right voice that the brand wants to speak with?
    You bet.  Most of those gazillions of typefaces are pretty poor. Filter out the crud, and there might not be that many candidates to choose from. I can't tell you how many times in my branding work I've had to settle for a face that's not really what I had in mind because no one's published quite what I had in mind, or, if they have, have done it poorly.

    Naturally, I'm still trying to sell custom faces to all these clients.

    Maybe if I had a better suit.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    Suit?  You have a suit!
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    James, I'm confused, because you say "ease of use," but focus on price.

    Honestly, I find this price proposal hard to believe - that retail type has ever been so prohibitively expensive compared to custom type families. Why would anyone's retail sales tactics be so self-defeating?

    I think the clients seek custom type not primarily because it's less expensive, but because it's better for their needs, so much better they are willing to pay more money for it. More than a retail font that partially meets their needs, as max alludes to.

    When I was at matd, I hard a funny story from John Hudson about that vodaphone font : it was unicode and OpenType, and the retail fonts that it replaced were not, so actually it was harder to use ;)

    But that's funny because it's exceptional. Fonts are basically all as easy to use as each other.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    edited July 2015
    Of the classic typefaces, both custom and retail/speculative are represented.

    Custom work can uniquely suit a client, but the design process doesn’t always stay on the rails. That’s true for every kind of commissioned work.

    In general, custom work tends to be rather bland, due to the number of people involved in sign-offs, with the more important being less involved in the process.

    Also, they call the custom type designer in after they’ve produced some layouts that work quite well with an available retail typeface, so one is somewhat constrained.

    **

    In my experience developing custom fonts, what’s really good for the client is using prototypes to help develop their redesign or branding. Because both are proceeding in concert.

    For instance, when I designed the Pratt Nova fonts for a Globe and Mail redesign, slab serifs were all the rage, so we included a Black slab weight, for important headlines. Then, as a matter of interest, although a Bold (high contrast) already existed, I decided to interpolate the Black with the Regular weight. The resulting alternate Bold (“Heavy”) turned out to be extremely useful and a mainstay of the redesign.

    Such serendipity doesn’t come “off the shelf”.

    **

    Here is the official Shinntype custom font rationale:
    http://shinntype.com/custom/benefits/
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 960
    In the free font scene, it's not cool to copy a contemporary, commercially available typeface. Custom typefaces which aren't available for purchase are considered by some to be fair game. I remember some flak about somebody's "Harry Potter font" because it was a knockoff of a commercially available font. That sort of thing happens but it's looked down upon. Looked down upon by the people most of you probably look down upon, so it's pretty low. I've done it a couple of times but never on purpose.
    I'm not talking about "inspired by" designs, I mean fonts which are intended to resemble a font that represents a brand.

    Free font makers get email from people requesting fonts based on logos and such. Sports teams, bands, movies and games create a demand for their respective associated typeface. While I'm immune to the nagging these days, about 15 years ago, I always had a list of requests to work through. But if the font was already available for sale, it never went on the list. And I have to assume it was the same for every free font designer. There was no written rule but you just kind of knew where the line was.

    I'm not exactly sure why people needed these fonts but I assume it's mostly people creating tributes or parodies. If the typeface in question is commercially available, people will buy or pirate the font. There's little demand for anyone to go to the bother of making a font from scratch if it already exists for sale. It does happen but not much and usually by absolute beginners.

    I'll give you an example. In the 1990's there was a typeface that Pontiac used for their cars. It was a custom design, only ever seen on their cars and some ads. In the late 1990's I got a few emails asking me to make a font that resembles the badges on Pontiac cars. I put it on my list and quickly slapped up a font called Good Times and off it went.

    As soon as a free knockoff font is released, it cheapens the design. It shows up on dollar store items, tasteless vinyl windshield stickers and personal web pages. Yes, if the typeface had already been available for sale, people might have pirated the proper version but it wouldn't have made its way to every single free font site in the world and become so common.

    It still happens today. Check Dafont often and you'll see a stream of knockoffs of commercially unavailable private fonts. Whether or not these knockoffs become ubiquitous is a different story but that's what I meant by "knockoffs encouraged".
  • Dave: "Fonts are basically all as easy to use as each other".

    Oh good. Saves us a lot of time in edukashun.;)
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 463
    Suit?  You have a suit!
    Somewhere.
  • "Enterprise License"= Unlimited desktop installations across the corporation. Webfont use with unlimited page views. Unlimited ability to embed font in commercial products created by corporation (i.e. Ebook & other pdf based products). Ability to distribute the font software to vendors doing work for corporation. 

    How much would you expect to pay per font for this license Dave?
  • An exclusive corporate typeface can have unconventional ligatures that make the company logo unique. An example would be the "tu" ligature in the name of the software developer Lotus. A company I used to work for had a corporate font with "CH" and "ES" ligatures for the company name.
  • A custom typeface often solve a problem. I think that is the key advantage.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 960
    Custom typefaces offer a lot of advantages but the question was about exclusive corporate typefaces.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    From my perspective as a type designer, a limited period of exclusivity is most advantageous—I get paid promptly for developing the typeface, then after a few years of exclusivity for the client, I add it to my retail wares and make more money from royalties.
  • Custom typefaces offer a lot of advantages but the question was about exclusive corporate typefaces.

    Yes, that is exactly what I am talking about.

  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    edited July 2015
    "Enterprise License"= Unlimited desktop installations across the corporation. Webfont use with unlimited page views. Unlimited ability to embed font in commercial products created by corporation (i.e. Ebook & other pdf based products). Ability to distribute the font software to vendors doing work for corporation.
    How much would you expect to pay per font for this license Dave?
    I think its unlikely that any salesperson at any foundry would offer the retail font for more than the cost of a new typeface made to the same specifications. According to Thomas Phinney in http://www.quora.com/How-much-does-it-cost-to-custom-design-a-typeface that a 4-font family to Adobe Latin 2 is in the range of $20k to $200k. I think the range goes both lower and higher than that. But I would say a reasonable expectation for a non-savvy Acme Client Co is to pay $15,000 per font to Adobe Latin 2.

    Say Acme Client Co is going for 6 styles of Helvetica. They are going to call Monotype's friendly sales team, along with URW (Nimbus Sans) and Font Bureau (NHG) and work out a custom offer from each vendor, and write a check to the vendor who is most competitive. 

    They are not going to punch in the details to myfonts.com and charge their credit card with 3.7 trillion dollars.



    If you're telling us that clients have come to you, having punched in the details to myfonts.com but not picked up the phone, and said "retail fonts are not priced reasonably for enterprises, we want to make something custom" I would not be surprised. 

    If you're telling us that clients have come to you, having licensed some retail fonts and then wanted to use them in new ways and the retailer has spotted the opportunity for some profiteering and are not offering reasonable prices (ie, above the cost of making a new typeface from scratch) then I would also not be surprised. 

    But if the client is reasonably savvy and has the more level negotiating position (ie, not looking to pay additional rebranding costs if they choose another font) I find it hard to believe that you've had clients tell you that retail fonts were more expensive than custom fonts. 
  • James MontalbanoJames Montalbano Posts: 934
    edited July 2015
    Edit... it is so not worth it.
  • Miles NewlynMiles Newlyn Posts: 135
    edited July 2015
    Retail fonts are very often more expensive than custom fonts: the cost of our custom typeface work (exclusive in perpetuity) is less than our enterprise licenses have been, with only a few exceptions.

    If you look at the custom work I've done, I've managed to avoid it becoming "rather bland, due to the number of people involved in sign-offs," as Nick says. It is unlikely that these fonts would be retail successes because they are very aligned with the clients branding.

    https://www.textpref.com/custom-font

    Designing a typeface that is going to be a retail success in a crowded market is much more difficult.



  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    Retail fonts are very often more expensive than custom fonts: the cost of our custom typeface work (exclusive in perpetuity) is less than our enterprise licenses have been, with only a few exceptions.
    Miles, this doesn't make sense to me. Could you explain why you offer retail type at a price higher than exclusive custom work? Is it to drive sales of the custom work? :) Genuinely very surprised at this!! 
  • Miles NewlynMiles Newlyn Posts: 135
    edited July 2015
    There are couple reasons that come to mind;

    The last retail font i did took me nine years to design, that latest custom font took two months, so we're not comparing like for like.

    The licensing models are different. Custom type is largely costed as a design service, retail type by usage.

    I've had two situations where clients asked for exclusivity on an unreleased typeface. Fortunately in these cases I said that exclusivity was not available, and soon after sold retail licenses that were greater in value than the client was willing to pay for exclusivity. In short, clients don't value custom work highly enough, but I do it because I enjoy designing typefaces that I'd not otherwise have the opportunity to do.



  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 463
    Designing a typeface that is going to be a retail success in a crowded market is much more difficult.
    Now you tell me.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    One should probably spend less time designing it, and more time marketing, to succeed in a large market with aggressive, savvy competitors.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 463
    Custom typefaces offer a lot of advantages but the question was about exclusive corporate typefaces.
    We still don't seem to have dug very deep into the 'exclusive' part.

    I've never understood what exclusivity buys a client.  Apple, VW, MoMA, and American Apparel are among many firms that have built strong typographic identities with off-the-rack typefaces. (Yes, VW and MoMA eventually drew their own versions of Futura and Franklin Gothic, respectively, but that was decades after they'd started using them, not one consumer in 100,000 could have told the custom versions from the retail ones anyhow.)

    Martha Stewart did well with Archer, but it continued to do well for her years after its general release.

    Maybe house faces are like corporate spokespeople.  George Clooney doesn't have to give up his other gigs to be strong branding asset for Nespresso. 

    What am I missing?
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