The Pros and Cons of Custom Fonts

Rose Arenas

By Rose Arenas on May 6, 2020

Companies large and small are beginning to understand the importance of fonts as part of their brand-building strategy. However, that wasn’t always the case. As personal computers and the internet became more popular, typefaces became much more accessible and much easier to produce.

Does that mean having a custom font face is right for your company? Let’s take a look at some details that may factor into your decision.

Custom Fonts: Too Costly or Smart Investment?

Using an established typeface isn’t free. A company has to pay licensing rights to a type foundry every time they are applied. For larger companies, this can end up costing a pretty penny. When companies grow internationally and have to expand their typeface to address different languages, they can incur additional licensing costs.

Creating a custom font can be a good long-term investment and be more cost-effective overall. Custom fonts have a larger upfront cost; branding experts say that creating a typeface can cost anywhere from $50,000 up into the millions, depending on the company’s needs. However, when a company develops its own custom typeface, they can eliminate the recurring licensing fees that must be paid to foundries. Large international companies can save millions of dollars per year by switching to their own custom fonts and add variations and languages as needed.

Does Your Font Work Online?

Typefaces were originally created for printing and many were made years before mobile screens and devices even existed. Because of this, there are some standard fonts that simply don’t render very well on pixel-based screens.

A good example of this is Apple’s switch from the beloved Helvetica to its own custom font, San Francisco. Apple claimed that the switch was due to the font size that was needed for its smallest device, the Apple Watch. Helvetica was originally created in 1957 and was never meant to be used at that small a font size. So, Apple created its own proprietary font that it could not only customize across different devices as they expanded but also applied as the company’s standard font, unifying its entire brand.

Apple Watch – Medium

Alternatively, companies that originally used only typefaces digitally may need to update their branding if they expand into print. Airbnb, traditionally a digital company, needed a font that could carry their identity online and offline. When they couldn’t find one, they created their own typeface and were able to control the legibility and scalability that matched their growing business needs.

Airbnb and Dalton Maag: Airbnb Cereal – itsnicethat.com

Is a Custom Font Right for Your Company?

Over the last few years, large tech companies and small startups alike have moved towards either updating or creating custom fonts. Even brands like Apple and Netflix that have traditionally used licensed typefaces in the past have now jumped on board with their own proprietary typeface.

So, is a custom font right for your company? That depends. Before creating your own font it’s important to know that there are hundreds of flexible typefaces out there and that many companies have used established fonts very successfully for many years. If cost is of concern, weigh the upfront cost of a custom font against recurring charges associated with an existing typeface and the potential impact that a custom font would have on your brand.

Fonts can communicate an emotion and a company’s overall business value if used correctly. The right typeface can also help differentiate a company from its competitors and strengthen its identity as much as a logo can. In a time where brand representation is essential to a business, it’s important that companies put stock into their use of typefaces, whether or not they are custom-made.

Sources:

https://medium.com/@amachino/the-secret-of-san-francisco-fonts-4b5295d9a745

https://www.itsnicethat.com/news/airbnb-cereal-typeface-font-dalton-maag-graphic-design-150518

https://digiday.com/marketing/zazzle-creates-new-font-zazzle/

https://www.arun.is/blog/custom-typefaces/


About Ridge Marketing

Ridge Marketing is an agency that specializes in crafting creative digital assets and using websites, search, advertising and email to ensure that the right prospects interact with your brand and become loyal customers.

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