Why every company has its own font now


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/27/why-every-company-has-its-own.html


Some of these companies have gotten in the habit of giving their fonts away, and I’ve played with a bunch of them. Most are so bland or shitty that there’s no point, but I completely agree with the author that both Ubuntu and IBM Plex are smartly designed, flavorful, and unique. And the IBM font does a great job of riffing off of their logo.


Arguably the custom corporate font rather predates computers.


I didn’t know about IBM Plex and am glad to be introduced to it today. Strangely enough, while I dislike Roboto quite a lot I also have to admit to rather hating Apple’s San Francisco. They can spin it and explain their rationale and talk about their rendering algorithms all day long, but it doesn’t change the fact it looks boring and ugly, with what I feel is very awkward letter spacing across a line of text for anything other than “some small text for a UI element on a screen.” They keep trying to push it on billboards or display headlines and it’s just total crap, IMHO.


It’s 90% the licensing thing. It’s not so much the money as the awareness that another company owns an underlying element of your <Daniel Plainview voice> BRAAAAANNNNNDD </plainview> and we can’t have that can we.


Many common types started out with some form of corporate or government sponsorship. That’s not really new. But it was generally not done unless it was really worth it, because it was so expensive. But if you’re paying millions in licensing, not doing it becomes more expensive. Personally, I don’t see it as being a particular problem if companies want to do this as long as they’re getting a good result.

Edit to add: if anything, it should put some pressure on the licensing fees charged by the foundries.


See also the different fonts used on road signs- for instance, the UK uses the specially designed Transport and Motorway typefaces, while the US uses the FHWA series aka “Highway Gothic”.


Some people on Reddit noticed that The Paper Store’s font is Papyrus

While Papyrus’s font isn’t.



Although the US did have a brief affair with “Clearview” I feel like that should be made into one of those looking over the shoulder at the new girl graphics.


And German number plates


And Times New Roman isn’t actually the typeface used by its namesake, The Times of London, even though it was commissioned for it.




It’s not just the corporate ownership business. I used to work for Charity clients - large charities doing useful work. One board meeting decided that their corporate typeface should be Helvetica. Oops! No-one knew or understood that this was a proprietary typeface and needed licenced. The fact of being a charity did not carry any weight with the typeface licencers, and they lost tens of thousands of pounds over it. Another Charity i worked for announced casually that they also had decided on Helvetica as their Company Typeface, as I was preparing a batch of pre-printed letters. “Oh no you don’t!” I said! Fortunately for them I was able to give them the information they needed, and nip that little idea in the bud. Board members take these decisions in total ignorance. Once they’ve paid through the nose for their mistake, they decide to make a virtue of their experience, and create their own proprietary typeface. It’s not surprising. What IS surprising is that people have copyrighted typefaces and charge others to use them. THAT is an abuse. I hope their copyright expires soon (although the fashion seems to be to extend copyright indefinitely). It’s not difficult to design your own typeface. It is just a shame they are so bland. But that is big companies for you.


When I was doing my art foundation course back in the 80s we were told a salutary tale, which, if I remember it correctly, involved a junior employee at a magazine being told to find a photo of a cloud to illustrate an article. The unfortunate apparently chose a nice photo of a cloud against a blue sky. After the magazine had been printed and distributed, it was learned that the photo had been taken by someone famous, like Chris Foss. The royalties bill pretty much wiped out the profit from the print run.


Aber ja, natürlich Hans nass ist, er steht unter einem Wasserfall.


In my head whenever I see "Apple’s San Francisco" font I think:


Blimey, that’s what I call a hard sell!


Small companies, like ours, wish we could commission our own fonts, as much for the hassle of deploying paid fonts as the cost.


at worst illegal

Am i missing something here? Why would having your own font be illegal?


Hahahahaha! HAHAHA HA HAhahaha… Dream on.