Buying New Fonts for a New Logo Project – Risky Move?


One of the many cool things about Twitter, is that I get ideas for new blog posts almost on a daily basis. This post was inspired such an event, all to do with buying new fonts for new logo projects. Gariphic sent me a DM asking me : “Graham, question. When you buy a font for a logo, what if the client dislikes it, or how do you show it to the client first.”

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I knew exactly where Gary was coming with this question. So I tweeted him back saying I would answer it in detail in a new blog post. So here we are.

The issue here is about risk. The risk of buying a new font only for the client to ‘poo poo’ it. This is certainly possible and has happened to me, but only a few times. There are ways to still try and use new fonts without committing to buying them.

Fonts are worth buying anyway

I would say the first thing to try and focus on is that it’s never a waste of money, buying new fonts. So OK, you buy a new font and the client doesn’t like it. Presumably you purchased this font because you initially like it? So you trust your judgment and chalk it down to incompatible client/designer taste. It’s not the end of the world, you just end up saving it for another logo project. No real harm done.

But as I said earlier, the trick is to get into the mindset that buying fonts is ALWAYS a good idea, and NEVER a waste of money, or a mistake.

Convince the client

So you buy that new font, sets you back say £150. You love it, your friends love it, even your mum loves it. So with all this positive affirmation going on, you casually toss it over to the client, all neatly typeset with that awesome new logomark.

Only for the client to say, ‘I really don’t like that font choice, can we change it.’. Now two things here. And this happened to me, so I hope the client in mind wont mind me mentioning his name. If you take a look at my Joomla Bamboo logo, you will notice a rather nice, but different looking font. I loved this the moment I first saw it, and knew it was a perfect fit for the logo. But Anthony was less than convinced.

So I initially found this a bit of a set back. Why did the client not see it the way I did? How very dare he! :) But after sulking for an evening, I decided to put it back on Anthony’s shoulders. I stuck to my guns and managed to finally convince him that this font choice was indeed perfect for the job. All Anthony needed was a few days to get used to this new font and to hear my reasons for liking it so much. Sure enough, a few days later he came back and agreed with my decision.

So here, always stick to your guns where possible. If you get knocked back by the client, investigate more. Ask why they don’t like it, then give them good reasons why you feel its right for the job. You are the professional, you are the designer, it IS your job to give them the confidence in your design. It is your duty to justify everything you have done.

If Money is an issue

If things are really tight, and you really can’t risk buying a font that the client may not like, then there are ways to get round this. I use this when I have maybe a number of new font styles I would like to present to the client. So not just one new font, but say 6. Buying 6 new fonts, when only 1 will be used is a little extravagant for sure.

This is where you need to be familiar with as many Type Foundries as possible. Each online foundry will usually have a ‘test the font’ typesetting area. Here you can set the logotype in the font and weight you need. This isn’t big news I know. But the trick is to really work the system and get your fingers dirty. You are usually limited to tracking and kerning with these online font testers. And a logo with inappropriate spacing can kill a logo design.

You have a few options here. You can either run with the ‘inappropriate spacing’ in the typeset example and present this to the client. Making sure you stress that the visual is a loose font style idea only. To not focus on details, but just the style of font. Quite often this will be all you need. You can then provide the client with as many new font styles as you want, without buying a single one.

There is always a risk of providing too many options. I have made this mistake a few times, and now I just provide no more than two font styles. It’s for me to provide the winning idea, not the client. So bear this in mind. But ultimately it comes down to the relationship you have with the client and your method for designing and presenting visuals.

The other way

If you want to provide new font styles with perfect letter spacing, then you need to practice the covert art of copy, pasting and slicing screenshots to make up the logotype from the online typesetter.

This is of course not to cheat the system or to avoid buying that new font.

I only mention this method as it’s all down to presentation. I am not convinced that some type foundries make it easy to create typeset samples. They often use copy and watermark protection routines to ensure you can’t use the type on a clean white background. Although I can see a logic to this, it sort of defeats the object when presentation to a client is everything. But with a dab hand in Photoshop, wonders can be performed. You can now present your client with a new font choice, nicely spaced. Once they approve it, you can go back and purchase that font as your good deed for the day.

So I am not condoning ripping off type foundries in any way. I buy heaps of new fonts on a regular basis and support what they do with a passion. These tips are just ways to get round the paranoia some companies have to protect their art.

Any thing you do like this will result in low resolution bit mapped images, and not suitable for final artwork. But that aside, if you are handy in Photoshop, you can create a clean mock up, with reasonable perfectly spaced logotypes from these online typesetters for visual and client approval.

To sum up

Have a healthy and generous attitude to buying new fonts. To me, they are an investment. They form the basis of each and every logo I design. Fonts are the essential key ingredient and should be treated accordingly.

Balking at having to buy fonts should not be on the agenda, and I would even go as far as saying, if you really have a problem spending money on fonts, and you design logos, you might want to consider another job. Harsh, but fair. Fonts create the personality, they set the tone. If you find them a necessary wallet draining evil, then move on.

Enjoy browsing for them, soak up the fascination with typography in general and have a healthy regard for the work that goes into making a font.

You can stamp your individual mark on a logo by choosing extraordinary fonts. Isn’t that worth spending a little money on?



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Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2009/09/15 & Post Updated: 2014/05/09
Filed In Categories: Brand Identity, Opinion, Typography

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