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John Hudson said:There are different kinds of brands and different kinds of branding, and what makes sense in one brand strategy doesn't make sense in another.
Henning von Vogelsang said:The idea that one font family alone could set a brand apart is neglecting everything we have learned through research in cognitive and behavioural psychology.
Hrant H. Papazian said:
Simply a rational belief. (And no more difficult to "prove" than the opposite.)
Henning von Vogelsang said:I wouldn’t mind researching this if I had the time and the resources. It’d be interesting to find out how many people recognise a brand accurately, based on seeing a font only, out of context of everything else.
[B]y your reconning, using an existing retail font a bad branding call? Would you say AT&T's use of Omnes is bad for AT&T because Huggies also uses Omnes? Or, in fact, because TalkTalk (British telecom) also uses Omnes? Or is Omnes not a "branding typeface" because it's available retail? If so then what is it?
Ray Larabie said:
Please don't bash Comic Sans and Papyrus here; they're both excellent typefaces.
Miles Newlyn said:
I've tried to use Plex on two corporate identity jobs, both clients disliked it.
Hrant H. Papazian said:
In contrast, Archer for example might be a toss-up: it's used by Wells Fargo, so was it best avoided in an exhibition I attended last week about the ever-likable dog? Good question.(That "íb"? Another thread... :-)
IBM would have been much more supportive of type design by giving away only some mass-appeal part of a family, while keeping some part of it exclusively for its branding. Like sister designs, with complementary approaches to branding.
I don't think this makes any more sense as a general or universal rule than Hrant's insistence that giving away a branding typeface necessarily undermines its branding power. There are different kinds of brands and different kinds of branding, and what makes sense in one brand strategy doesn't make sense in another.
Let's not beat around the bush simply because this particular client is filthy rich and/or this particular design studio is part of the High Priesthood: if we agree that type helps to brand (although I can see that some people sadly don't, or are pretending they don't) it simply comes forth that –as a rule, all else being equal– giving it away erodes that power, eroding our power.
To the general public, our main audience, fonts are associated with brands within their environment of applied brand materials. For decades, the look of print ads by Volkswagen was defined by the use of Futura, up to the point where advertising agencies tried to avoid Futura because it was associated with VW. But that was in an age with not even 10% of the amount of visual information we are bombarded with today.
Ironically, not the restriction to a set of a handful of fonts used by most companies, but the abundance of new font releases (in combination with similar looking layouts and typographic treatment) has led to “sameness” – the phenomenon that everything graphical we see looks more and more similar.
I say this as someone who has developed brands and has worked in identity design studios for several years: We perceive brands as a unique set of visual hints that all together build a summary that is more or less recognisable as personality (of a product, company or institution). But uniqueness is not necessarily all there is to personality. It is and has always been the combination of every aspect of a brand, how its products or services perform, how it acts and approaches things, how it communicates, its advertising as well as its PR, its internal corporate culture as well as how customers perceive it – all this together forms a stream of brand perception.
The idea that one font family alone could set a brand apart is neglecting everything we have learned through research in cognitive and behavioural psychology.
Our domain is type. Let's not be complicit with its usurping.
Well, claiming that it's best to avoid an over-used typeface for branding is one of the most mainstream opinions I have. :-)
It's a balance of suitability for the brand versus over-use (and notably, by whom). Helvetica? Fogetaboudit. In contrast, Archer for example might be a toss-up: it's used by Wells Fargo, so was it best avoided in an exhibition I attended last week about the ever-likable dog? Good question.
(That "íb"? Another thread... :-)
But something like Plex is beyond that question. A retail font has a natural cost barrier that attenuates over-use; unlike something like Omnes, Plex was a commissioned typeface used for branding the entity. Then you give it away?! That's even worse than using a Google font for branding, because you paid for a custom design for chrissake. If you want to curry popular favor by giving away a typeface, at least don't use it for your branding.
Does IBM care? That's moot. Let's care less about appeasing corporate ideology and more about the health of our craft.
It makes Vignelli look good.
I don't think Plex will achieve a fraction of the ubiquity of a Verdana or Arial. The public won't recognize it as Plex. That's not due to the typeface itself but the overcrowded free font market. In the end, its effect will be negligible.
That was close.
Vignelli: worse than the worst font pirates, who at least care enough about the craft to steal.
But the typeface itself nicely evokes our general perception of dogs, and kids are enviably unfettered by the two other users above, so I think I actually like it.