How Did Custom Fonts Come Around?
The concept of custom fonts didn’t actually start off with brands wanting to be different. It was a way of saving money. Since licensing existing fonts can get pricey in the long run, the tech industry decided it would be more cost-effective if they created their own to use about a decade ago. In today’s modern practice, brands use custom fonts as a way to stand out from the crowd; to create their own personality and voice that no one can ever replicate. It is the epitome of “Look at me! I’m Special!” Custom fonts help create a more memorable brand identity, simply because the font is designed specifically for that one brand.
Typeface vs. Font
Before we take a deep dive into the world of custom fonts, let us clarify some important terminology we think you should know beforehand. A typeface, for example, Helvetica, consists of a good number of fonts such as Helvetica Bold, or Helvetica Italic. So a typeface is a family, whilst a font is a child that makes up the family. If you are interested in the role of typefaces in graphic design, check out our other blog post “Typeface Design for Brand Awareness”, we really go deep into information that might come in handy for you in the future. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s dive into it.
Let Me Google That
Everyone in this time and age must have heard of Google. Do you want to search something up? Google is your best friend and your go-to guy. But, under the guise of convenience, did you know that Google has its own custom typeface that is consistent across all their products called “Product Sans”? It is a sans serif typeface based on geometric forms (geometric). Despite its similarities with “Google Sans”, do not get confused, the “Google Sans” that is used for their logotype is different from “Product Sans”, which is designed for use in a wide array of screen sizes.
The new “Product Sans” gives off a rhythmic texture, through a fairly wide and geometric letter shape. The choice to go with a sans serif typeface compliments their company values, as an “unconventional company” and an ever-evolving tech mogul. Without you even noticing it, Google has become one of the most recognizable brands that you’ll ever come across.
Apart from Google, you might also have come across Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Grab, Apple, Airbnb… so, basically all big companies have adapted to creating a custom font to solidify their brand identities. From Netflix’s “Compact Sans”, to Youtube’s “Youtube Sans” along with big-name foundries charging a fortune for custom fonts, this question might have come across your mind at this point. “Is it worth the money?”
So What Now?
There are a handful of considerations you should consider. Apart from the definite stand out in personality and voice, it is not just all about how you appear. The one true purpose of Type is to convey your message. So no matter how beautiful you look, it will be ashamed if people cannot see you. For a company like Google, their brand’s mission is to organize the world’s information whilst making it universally accessible and useful. It would not make much sense if they commissioned a custom font that is in cursive, as it would not allow most people to read information with ease. Along with appearance, their custom typeface must also be consistent on different products or platforms. As Google is a global company, they also have to take into consideration of different languages across the world.
Despite viewing it as a large financial spend, viewing it as a worthwhile investment seems more suitable for custom fonts. When done right, custom typefaces allows your brand to stand out on every platform across all devices. Your brand’s voice is unique like no other. It’s like designing your own clothes you envision to wear that is truly you, and not buying them from a fast-fashion brand.
It’s worth it in the long run. We’d love to discuss your ideas and answer any questions you might have about typography in relation to brand identity. Do not hesitate to reach out to us!