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: http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/32236)
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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 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??
As a user, I dislike foundry prefixes (except for "generic" typeface names like Bodoni, Garamond, etcetera, but even then I prefer a suffix). The prefix means that unless I remember the foundry, I don't know where to look in the menu.
I do not mind a foundry suffix, but I don't really find it much of an advantage either. But then again, I use font management, so I have ways of searching by foundry, etc. The average user does not have a font management app these days, I don’t think.
If a font name is trademarked by somebody else, putting your foundry prefix in front of the trademarked name does not normally get you off the hook for trademark infringement. If I trademark a font named “Pretense” and Very Good Looking Fonts tries to release “VGL Pretense” my lawyer and I would be sending them a polite but firm cease-and-desist note.
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.
My 2 cents.
I must admit I realised it myself only when I was pretty far into "font territory".
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...
* 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...
I think that you are correct when, as you wrote on Twitter (generally my favorite place for type discussion, rather than here, sorry!), many fonts look the same, and the best way to differentiate them
from one another is (and will be) marketing. But please don’t reduce marketing to putting foundry prefixes in front of names. You will differentiate FontWala through a number of things, I suspect: your website, they way you personally interact with customers and potential customers, the quality of your fonts’ design (you are probably one of the best graduates the MATD course ever had), your copywriting about the fonts on your website and maybe elsewhere, like on other design websites or in design magazines, etc. And so on.
There are hundreds, of not thousands, of small “foundries.” If even 5–10% of them had foundry prefixes, the world’s font menus would be a total mess! To be honest, I think that what Adobe, FontFont, ITC, Linotype, etc. wrought on the font world in this respect decades ago was too much. Their prefixes are anti-user, and branding of the wrong kind (at least for today). Don’t do it! There are better ways to bind customers to you and establish your products’ names in the marketplace. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’ll be.
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.
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.
There are a few families like "PT Sans" that were added before this policy position, and it isn't clear to me what to do about them
We keep the GT in our font menu names: GT Sectra is located under G, not under S. We have never had any customer come to us being confused about it – literally not a single support request in the 9 years since we started. Some customers, probably those who are more into design and type, understand that the GT in front of the name locates the typeface as part of our foundry, others might just think it’s a random bit of the name. It definitely, in my mind, creates a stronger coherence of a library versus single typefaces floating around MyFonts etc.
One thing I’d want to stress in contrast with other responses is that what the type industry thinks of your naming scheme (or most other things) should rank very, very low on your list of decision-making criteria*. Your clients aren’t type designers.
*To pre-empt what I expect to be an obvious response, that doesn’t mean you should behave unethically, it just means that the opinions of other font makers aren’t what should drive your decision.