Typeface Library Brand Value
I wonder about the importance of typeface library brand when it comes to purchasing of fonts. Those of us on the inside of type foundries tend to believe that brand is all important – that designers gravitate to a particular type library to look for fonts. True, type libraries tend to have "personalities" – or are collections of certain kinds of designs. The Monotype® library has many typefaces that are ideal for text setting, the Font Bureau® offering contains many nineteenth and early twentieth century revivals, the FontFont™ suite of fonts has several trendsetting designs, and the P22™ type library includes a large number antique and handwriting fonts.
Brand Loyalty – Not
My guess is, however, when graphic designers are searching for a new font, they are looking for a particular design – or a particular kind of design. They may have their favorite online font store where they shop, but whether the font is from the Linotype® library, the International Typeface Corporation® (ITC) library, or the Font Bureau library is of little importance. I'm pretty sure that graphic designers shop for fonts – not foundries.
Come to think of it, graphic designers have always purchased fonts – or typeface designs. Back in the day, designers would create the layout and then order the type. Proofs were ordered from services that set type. Back then, Linotype and Monotype were primarily manufacturers of typesetting equipment. Savvy graphic designers may have bought their typesetting from a type shop that had a particular kind of typesetting equipment because they believed it produced better quality proofs than the competition – but most just purchased proofs of the Gill Sans® or Helvetica® or Century Old Style typefaces because that was the typeface they wanted their copy set in.
The first important typographic brand that was not associated with a piece of typesetting equipment was probably American Type Founders – because it only made handset type. (No machines were necessary to use the type.) The next was ITC. In its first two decades of business, ITC only produced typeface designs, which it licensed to manufacturers of typesetting equipment. ITC did not start making fonts until the early 1990s.
I'm thinking that, today, it is more important for type foundries to invest in creating great new fonts than it is to spend money on brand building. Now, font stores – that's where brand is very important. I'm pretty sure that FontShop is a much more important brand than FontFont.
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.
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