Font naming - Foundry prefixes

Erin McLaughlinErin McLaughlin Posts: 45
edited May 2018 in Type Business
Hi peoples. :)  I've been trying to get out of my type designer bubble and into "beginner" or "typical-user" mode, thinking about ways I can make font-finding/buying/using easier for my future customers. Here is one of those thoughts/questions that many of you have probably already considered:

What are your thoughts on adding a foundry prefix to font names? (ITC Souvenir, Adobe Garamond, GT Haptik etc)

I know some people might think it's heavy-handed, but in my imagination, it seems like it'd be helpful for customers who are searching for your fonts in a font menu, or online, and it would help to build brand awareness/loyalty? Isn't that why clothing companies put logos on all of their stuff?

Why do you think that most foundries aren't doing this?

(I found this thread interesting, but it mainly discussed the issue of name trademarks:

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    I think it helps find the font.  I am more likely to remember the foundry name than the font name.  It also helps with copyright.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,127
    edited May 2018
    It’s always seemed to me that prefixing a typeface name suggests there are versions by other foundries, alternatives which might be considered. That’s a mindset I’d like to avoid, for various reasons. 

    However, if one is publishing versions of the classics (Bodoni, Garamond, etc.)—which both ITC and Adobe, that you mentioned, have done—it may make sense.
  • I much prefer foundry suffixes to foundry prefixes since the latter affects sorting.
  • @André G. Isaak can you elaborate on sorting? :)  you just really want all designs in alphabetical order of the font name?

    I have heard advice from many people to name your fonts "toward the beginning of the alphabet" for the reason I think you're implying. I have very often forgotten the names of fonts I'm looking for and have played the font menu scroll/preview game many times. But I wonder if the visual "hiccup" in the list of fonts, created by a block of prefixed names, would act as a sort of bookmark/point-of-interest for someone scrolling through their library? Might be a good thing??
  • Jess McCartyJess McCarty Posts: 97
    edited May 2018
    Minority opinion, I'm sure. But the prefix sorting can be a bonus, as all of your fonts will appear together within app font menus. (If you're wanting to loop in beginners.)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 786
    edited May 2018
    I've always understood the primary reason for foundry prefixes (or suffixes) to be getting around the problem of finding available words for font names.  We don't like it because gets in the way of the poetry of the name and have always seen not using them as a luxury we may some day need to live without.  Perhaps I'm being simplistic?
  • As a font man I prefer short or strange font names. As a user I believe in short font menus.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 786
    edited May 2018
    @Thomas Phinney We all know that naming is the episiotomy of font design (would legitimately be torture under other circumstances but in context is just one more indignity).  So you're right about the scenario you describe and you're also right that I wasn't being clear.  I'm guilty of short handing.  

    Here's the context I was thinking of:   One of the many concerns in font naming is abandoned marks.  For instance, as once happened to us with a trademark search, someone in the 90s might have made a free font packaged in with thousands of others under the name you want to use.  That someone went out of business ages ago and they aren't maintaining the font (any court would say they've abandoned it) but it can still be found online.   The fact that 90s font can still be installed on computers is a problem because it can mess with installations and caching and so on. 

    We found another name.  But my understanding is that one of the reasons for the suffix is to make it possible to just keep your name in this situation where it is legitimately available but there are technical concerns.    
  • This thread seem to be dominated by mostly reasonable yays, yet here's an emotional nay: To me it feels cheap. Is the font not good enough to stand on it's own name? Is the foundry more important than the type? Why would I even care what foundry made the font once I've bought it?
  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 262
    As I’ve read through all these responses, it’s made me think about why I do. So, here’s a philosophical question for you: Why does any company put their name next to their product’s name? While a consumer will usually know which company the thing came from, I think we can all agree that a company’s reputation, for better or worse, changes the way we think of that product. There’s always the quality level associated with the company that it hints at. I’m not saying a font name can’t stand on its own, I’m saying that maybe a foundry may want their fonts to be remembered a certain way, possibly from a quality standpoint, maybe from the unique approach they always take, maybe for the extensive character set, maybe because they always awesome specimens, maybe from their customer service. I guess what I’m saying is there are lots of reasons, including just so people know better who made it in hopes others will find them easier and they can get more sales. Or maybe it’s nothing more than the foundry struggles to be creative with their names. I know I’ve been there.

    My 2 cents.
  • Roel NieskensRoel Nieskens Posts: 182
    When it did come up, front-end/web developer peers just accepted it as part of the font name. I don't think most developers realise this is some kind of indication about the foundry.

    I must admit I realised it myself only when I was pretty far into "font territory".
  • Erin McLaughlinErin McLaughlin Posts: 45
    edited May 2018
    Thanks everyone for all of the comments so far!!

    I like what you said, @Roel Nieskens - in my early computer years, I totally do remember assuming that ITC meant something technical about the font (like a Pro suffix) before I knew that it was the name of a foundry. This sort of "newcomer" perspective is totally what I'm interested in hearing. Thank you!

    I was definitely expecting a lot of negative reactions toward it, from the classy type designer perspective, along the lines of what @Johannes Neumeier just said. 

    I really do like the comment by @AbrahamLee, about it seeming like a mark of quality (if that's the case), and a branding feedback loop, like what @Jess McCarty said.

    To @JoyceKetterer's point, if unique names for fonts are getting harder and harder to find, I wonder if prefixes/suffixes are inevitable? I was just scrolling MyFont's best sellers list, and I see "Averta", which I thought said "Alverata"... to me it's just so confusing. I am struggling to figure out why a foundry wouldn't try to further brand their font? It's like a free logo stamped onto your product!?

    So are we thinking that companies aren't doing this because type designers are naturally averse to aggressively marketing their products? That most of us aren't comfortable with that side of the business??

    FWIW, I just took a tally, on the MyFonts best sellers page, 30/50 of the fonts have a ™, ®, or a foundry prefix. I definitely think that foundry name/prestige, and the appearance of being an authority on typography, must have a big impact. Yes yes, I know it's because everyone wants Helvetica and DIN because they are "standards", but I really think there's a correlation there...

    Any thoughts?

    * edit:  and on the "Hot new fonts", 12/50 had 
    ™, ®, or a foundry prefix. 5 had "Pro".  So... 1 in 4 fonts had some sort of visual cue like this...  
  • LOL ok, not the reply I was expecting! You did warn me! Thank you, Dan!

    Luckily I will have lots of Indian-language words to draw from for my future releases... but what do people see as a long-term solution for the "running out of names" problem for Latin fonts, if not foundry prefixes/suffixes? More invented words? More foreign words? Numbers? Multi-word names?  "Low-Sodium Balsamic Vinaigrette Sans"?

    And, yes I did shift subject matter slightly, but the whole  ™ ® symbol thing... to me is  some visual indicator of  "we have money for a lawyer, don't steal this font" or "we have money, therefore we make high-quality stuff" or something...  what do people think this might indicate to consumers? I'm just curious.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,373
    Someone tried to convince me to add a prefix/suffix to my typeface names a long time ago but I didn't like the look of it. It seemed to compromise the clean look of the name like The Mission UK, Bush-X, Charlatans UK, The English Beat, U.K. Squeeze etc.
  • At least with FontFont® (sic!) it is (or maybe was?) also important to consider that something like FF Legato is a “marketing name”, while the actual font will be called Legato and appear under in applications.
  • People have already mentioned the desirability of a foundry designation in cases like Bodoni, Garamond, and other families which have been subjects of multiple revivals.

    To this, though, I would add that I prefer it when a vendor designation is added to fonts which have been digitized and/or cross-licensed by numerous different foundries and/or vendors. A good example would be Helvetica, which Apple, in it’s infinite wisdom, has included as a *required* system font. This would have been fine if they had called it ‘Helvetica OS X’ or something along those lines, but as it stands it’s a royal PITA if you ever want to use some other version of Helvetica which also lacks a vendor code.
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