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Believe it or not, there are quite a few Helvetica font alternatives you can use.

A few years ago, we published an article to help designers and typography enthusiasts explore alternatives to Helvetica. The article was a hit! So, we decided it would be beneficial to publish the article again for your reading enjoyment.

Love it or hate it, Helvetica remains one of the most popular, ubiquitous, and enduring fonts of all time. It’s featured in countless corporate logos, remains the go-to choice to convey a certain hipster, ironically neutral aesthetic (American Apparel comes to mind), and is even the subject of its own documentary.

Logos with Helvetica Font

Helvetica is featured in countless corporate logos

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New Year’s tends to bring a few traditions you can always count on. Champagne, Auld Lang Syne—and the inevitable yearly predictions listicles. With 2017 around the corner, we’ve been anticipating these predictions and considering how to categorize and quantify what we’ve seen in the world of typography. Our conclusion for the year: track the technology and you’ll find the trends.

There are an estimated 2 billion smartphone users in the world, and the average American spends anywhere from 5 to 11 hours per day using electronic media. Unsurprisingly, typography trends have been influenced by the challenge to increase readability, aesthetic desirability, and language-accessibility across multiple media platforms. Most people in the U.S., for example, are not only using a laptop or smartphone, but a combination of many gadgets that have access to the ever-growing Internet.

Generally speaking, predictions articles fall into one of two categories: aesthetic trends and industry or functionality trends. We’ve seen technology heavily influence both. Here are five trends that we found particularly exciting to watch this year:

1. Custom Fonts

Custom fonts were a hit this year, as tech giants created custom typefaces for their latest devices. Readability was widely debated among techies, artists, and internet-users alike. Amazon created a typeface called Bookerly to decrease eyestrain for Kindle readers. Google launched Product Sans and Apple created the typeface San Francisco for the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, new tools like Prototypo and FontArk were introduced to help typographers create custom typefaces to meet the marketing, branding, and creative needs of clients who want to keep up technologically and aesthetically with these tech giants.

Amazon bookerly

Bookerly by Amazon

2. Responsive Typography

Another trend driven by increased consumer demand for readability and accessibility, responsive typography went mainstream this year—and with good reason. Not only are we spending more time online, we are doing so across numerous platforms, often simultaneously. Anyone looking to brand, market, or share anything on the Internet is now hard-pressed to ensure that their reader can do so on their desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or any other tool they may be using to access information. Responsive typography has made major strides in solving for this issue, and has become more accessible to designers who must get their message across to large and diverse audiences.

 

Branding for San Francisco’s Social Innovation Week

Aurelio Sanchez Escudero designed the branding for San Francisco’s Social Innovation Week using responsive typography, bold colors, and icons.

3. Personable Font Selections: Watercolor, Handwriting, Script, Grunge, and Caps

So readability and accessibility are essential. But typography is still an expressive art form. Typographers have been tasked with utilizing technology to enhance the practicality of their art, while creating work that is inventive, fresh, and beautiful. 2016 saw an increased use of watercolor, script, retro fonts, grunge, hand-lettering, and titles in all caps.

summer-angela-southern

Most of these trends touch on how we are consuming—and, perhaps, feeling—about the greater technological advances. As we’ve spent more time on our phones and computers, and less time with older, more traditional types and texts, a sense of nostalgia seems to have grown. Some artists have been making their mark with handmade lettering, while others have paid tribute to the bright, whimsical signs and symbols of the pre-internet-boom 80s. In a time when many of us threaten to spend increasingly more time with machines than with one another, it seems that we’ve wanted to humanize our online text and media.

dont-stop-believing

4. Innovative Fonts & Accessibility

The public response to the hand-lettering craze has been significant enough to push many designers to digitize their work. These lettering trends coupled with new font technology and availability has brought the “font game” to a new level. From small foundries to larger corporations, a number of new and exciting fonts were released this year.

noelan-calligraphy

Even more thrilling, artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs were busy inventing and innovating in ways that were both cross-cultural and multi-lingual. A large Norwegian study was conducted on readability for the visually impaired; Comicraft artists took on the ambitious project of inventing hand-lettered fonts in Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese. And two Guinean brothers hit the ground running and invented a script that would make their native language available on every smartphone. As font accessibility grows, we expect this trend in font innovation to continue.

photo-6_comicraft5. Variable Fonts

Apple, Google, and Microsoft teamed up and launched variable fonts this September. The gathering of these tech giants marks the beginning of a new age in typography. Instead of downloading separate files for every font style and width, variable fonts allow developers to place everything in one, highly optimized file. We are eager to see how and when this trend will grow, and whether it will go mainstream in 2017.

Because that, after all, is the question of the hour: What will happen in 2017? What do we anticipate? What will take us by surprise? What trends are you seeing? What have we missed? Where will the technology and our typography take us next? Let us know! And—

Happy New Year from all of us at Extensis.

 

Want to learn more about type trends? Check out Getting Free Fonts From Google Fonts.


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Part Three of Creating a Brand Style Guide

Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

  • Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
  • Part Two: “Defining and Creating Your Logo Uses”
  • Part Four: (coming soon)

 

In the Previous Installment

In the previous installment, Part 2: “Defining and Communicating Your Logo Uses,” you learned to think of your logo in terms of an asset that must be protected through strict usage and placement rules. You created different versions, color spaces, and formats to account for its use in any situation and medium, including print, on the Web, in ePUB and fixed-layout ePUB, video, and other media. You learned how to manage and organize your different logo editions for easy access by any teammate, partner, or client, as well as how to communicate logo usage guidelines and proper treatment for each rendition of the logo right within the logo file itself. You learned to document through text and visuals rules required sizes, placements, and spacing around the logo, alignment of the logo relevant to specific surrounding elements, and other common brand style guide requirements for consistent logo application.

 

Equating Color with Your Brand

Depending on your business, what it does, what it stands for, color may be an important visual element of your brand or the most vital.

Coca-Cola owns several truly iconic trademarks such as the flowy script of its logo, the shape of the classic Coke bottles. As valuable as those pieces of intellectual property are, none is more so than the color Coca-Cola Red. It’s a registered trademark color vigorously protected in every country in the world. Few people on Earth don’t instantly connect and equate that unique and almost ubiquitous shade of crimson with Coca-Cola, even when the color is far removed from a can, bottle, or white swoosh.

Where would Barbie be without her signature pink? Mary Kay and T-Mobile are also identified by their own unique, trademarked hues of pink. What could brown do for you if it wasn’t so intrinsic to the UPS brand? Millions of people start their days with the signature green aprons, cups, and wrappers of Starbucks. More aprons, this time in orange, even more readily identify the Home Depot brand. The list of brand-crucial colors stretches on, across all industries.
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Font Founders #5: Max Miedinger

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As a young man, Max Miedinger (1910-1980) was trained as a typesetter in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a typographer for Globus department store’s advertising studio in 1936. From 1947-56 he was a customer counselor and typeface sales representative for the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei in Münchenstein near Basle. In 1956 Miedinger went freelance when Eduard Hoffmann, the director of the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei, commissioned him to develop a new sans-serif typeface. His typeface Haas-Grotesk was introduced in 1957. But in 1960, the name of the typeface was changed—to Helvetica.

Cool font, Max.

maxmiedinger-dealwithit


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Part Two of Creating a Brand Style Guide

Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
Part Three: “Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media” (coming soon)

Your logo, the harbinger of your brand and without a doubt the most crucial of your brand assets, must be protected through strict usage rules. What are those rules? Where and when do they apply? How do you best communicate those rules for consistent, controlled representation of your brand herald? You’ll answer these questions—and more in Creating a Brand Style Guide, Part 2: “Defining and Communicating Your Logo Uses.”

In the Previous Installment

In Part 1 we defined what brand means and how important it is to define a framework for the consistent, controlled representation of that brand in all media.

Protect Your Logo

Few assets are as important to your business as your logo. Creating the mark that will be the harbinger of your brand goes far beyond having a great design. Ensure it’s protectable by investigating its uniqueness as an identifying mark in your area of business. Original logo artwork may be protected through copyright, but when a design identifies a brand, as your logo does, trademark protection is far more important that copyright. Your logo must be unique and dissimilar from any other trademark or service mark used within the same class or classes of businesses. If it isn’t, you will be infringing on another trademark or service mark. Copyright allows owners to go after infringers and to license some or all rights to the copyright protected material to be used by, or become representative of, other entitles. Trademark law, however, obligates mark holders to aggressively defend the uniqueness and unapportionable nature of their logos and other marks. Failing to properly vet your logo in the marketplace could cause you to lose all rights to it—and worse.

Learn more about protecting your digital assets. Download our free digital asset management best practices guide.

Before you build a brand style guide for a new or recently changed brand, engage an intellectual property to ensure the originality of your logo and other protectable brand elements. Trademark law falls under the domain of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As such you’ll usually find attorneys who specialize in trademarks listed under “patent law.”

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Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide

Today we introduce a new topic and new guest author to the Extensis blog. We’ve invited Pariah Burke (http://iampariah.com Twitter: @iampariah) to speak about the creation of Branding Style Guides. Pariah is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and the author of numerous books, video courses, and articles covering InDesign, InCopy, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, typography, asset management, epublishing, and the business of design. He is an Adobe Community Professional, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and an advisor to Adobe and other companies. We’re happy to have him join us, and now on to the good stuff!

 

Who Should Read This

Creating a Brand Style Guide is a 6-part series of articles that speaks directly to business owners, brand managers, and graphic designers, in-house or external, who create and work with brands, whether their own or clients’. This series is about understanding the importance of various brand communication elements, solidifying the desired uses of those elements and all interactions the brand will have with any entity, and learning strategies to set down clear, concise rules to ensure control and consistency of brand element usage and every visual representation of the brand across all media. For entrepreneurs, freelancers, and brand managers, the utility of such a series is in understanding what makes up the brands they own and manage, and in establishing their control over brand usage for consistent communications and interactions with the brand that are always on-message. Designers, advertising personnel, and intellectual property workers often create brand elements, and define rules for the usage of those elements, on behalf of their clients. For these individuals, the Creating a Brand Style Guide series provides help in building fuller, richer brand style guides, establishing brand asset distribution systems, and strategies—and a template—to fix brand usage rules and guidelines in a clear, easily distributable form.

 

What Does Brand Actually Mean?

Before we talk about anything else, let’s define the word “brand.”

There are many conflicting laymen’s definitions you’ll find for the word “brand,” many seeking to limit the idea of branding to specific representative elements. Some people define brand as rancher’s do, as the logo seared onto their business card, website, Twitter avatar, and the remainder of their herd of assets. But that’s not your brand; that’s your logo. Even if you are a livestock rancher, the business definition of your brand is far more than merely your logo, whether that logo is on the end of an iron pole or printed on the side of pens you give away at conventions. Your brand is also the iron pole itself, and the arm and cowboy wielding it; it’s the manner, place, and time in which your livestock is seen—on your ranch, where you control the interactions with your brand, and out in the wild, when a rider comes upon a steer bearing your logo when you aren’t around to put that logo or even the cow into context. Your brand is everything about your company, everything visual and visceral. It’s the look and feel of your company to other people.

Let that last sentence sink in. Your brand is “the look and feel of your company to other people.”

How much can you control other people’s perceptions? Successful marketing people will answer, “quite a bit.” They’re right; you can control other people’s perceptions a great deal—never totally, but significantly—if you carefully regulate your persona and consistently present that same persona in every interaction you have with others. Individual people often do create and reveal only specific sides of themselves. Frequent presenters, for example, employ on-stage personas, personalities that are cultivated, slightly better-than-real-life versions of themselves they use during every presentation. Actors, sales people, effective managers, and other successful professionals of any vocation similarly adopt a consistent business persona, leaving out of the office, sales floor, or stage those aspects of their personalities not relevant to the job while focusing on the strengths they bring to the job. They present this polished persona every time they interact with the public, prospects, and partners. Personas adopted by individuals are part of their brands. Steady repetition of those personas during the first and all subsequent interactions is what establishes personal brand identities.

A company’s brand identity is formed by the same simple principal: consistent repetition.

 

Enable Consistent Repetition of Your Brand

Each time your logo is seen, it must look the same—and logo usage consistency is much more than simply choosing the same colors every time. Every document produced by your company must carry a common design and structure, no matter whether it was authored by Human Resources or by a freelance copywriter. Different mediums present color, imagery, and text dissimilarities, so extra care must be taken to enact media-specific compensations for native variances to create designs and publications that match as closely as possible across presentation forms. Every fragment of your company’s visual identity, its every use in every logical medium, must be defined first, then controlled to accomplish consistent presentation that establishes and then enforces the message—the brand—you want to convey.

The best way to create, communicate, and enforce brand consistency is with a brand style guide. Sometimes called a brand bible, a brand book, or simply a style guide, a brand style guide clearly presents the brand identity in acceptable uses with unambiguous instructions that help others replicate those acceptable uses and to present the persona of your company as you, the brand manager, want it conveyed. A brand style guide is a digital repository of all the rules and guidelines, sometimes even the intent, of presenting, of operating as, of being, the brand. The guide, which is distributed to all personnel who touch the brand, both in-house and external, ensures that everyone is following the same rules and presenting the brand the same way every time. With a well-crafted brand style guide, it won’t matter whether H.R. or Marketing authors a document or if a freelance copywriter or hired design agency produces it; every document composed by anyone will look the same and present the same look, tone, and feel of the brand.

With every presentation of the brand, and thus every interaction of the brand with outside entities, governed by your brand style guide, you can control how the world perceives your brand.

 

Build Your Brand Style Guide

Your brand is your communication—every communication, in every form, whether it’s an active or passive interaction. Your brand is how your company speaks for itself when a customer, vendor, or the press gives your company a chance to speak for itself as well as what your company says passively while being viewed from a distance. A brand style guide gives your team the direction it needs to control those interactions, to ensure that every interaction between your brand and someone else, communicates what you want to communicate with as little room for inference as possible.

Over the next five installments of Creating a Brand Style Guide we’ll focus on defining, illustrating, and imparting your visual brand identity. Once you know what your brand is and how to tell others to represent it correctly, you’ll learn strategies for disseminating that information, creating a comprehensive guide that communicates your brand style rules to anyone who works with it. We’ll explore the unique challenges your brand visuals face in the most common modern channels of print, Web, social media, ebook EPUB, fixed-layout ebooks, PDF and other digital publications, and video and broadcast. For each of those challenges will be a solution strategy for assuring brand consistency regardless of the medium.

In this first installment we defined what brand means and how important it is to define a framework for the consistent, controlled representation of that brand in all media. As we move through the rest of the series, we’ll look in turn at the different elements comprised by your brand, how to interpret them, and how to define the rules and guidelines for each element’s correct, consistent and even legal use. The final installment of the series culminates in combining all of the elements and rules you’ve crafted into a cohesive brand style guide document, either one you design yourself or by using the slick, professional brand style guide template I’ll provide in Part 6: “Building a Brand Style Guide for All Media.”

 

In the Next Installment

In the next installment, Part 2: “Defining and Communicating Your Logo Uses,” you’ll learn to think of your logo in terms of an asset that must be protected through strict usage and placement rules. You’ll create different versions, color spaces, and formats to account for its use in any situation and medium, including print, on the Web, in ePUB and fixed-layout ePUB, video, and other media. You’ll learn how to manage and organize your different logo editions for easy access by any teammate, partner, or client, as well as how to communicate logo usage guidelines and proper treatment for each rendition of the logo right within the logo file itself. You’ll learn to document through text and visuals rules required sizes, placements, and spacing around the logo, alignment of the logo relevant to specific surrounding elements, and other common brand style guide requirements for consistent logo application. In addition, you’ll even find a guide to creating CSS code to properly set the logo position, alignment, and spacing within EPUB and Web HTML.


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You might or might not remember typewriters, but their use is responsible for many of the type crimes committed today.

How so?

Typewriters had a very limited keyboard, and did not accommodate many of the typographically correct characters we use in professional typesetting. Quotation marks and apostrophes are one example of this: although different from inch and foot marks, they are all represented by the same keys on a typewriter.

But when setting type in the professional arena (as opposed to just “typing”), they are separate and different glyphs.

Quotations marks, also referred to as smart quotes, typographer’s quotes, and sometimes curly quotes (although they don’t have to have the curly design), are design-sensitive, that is, are designed to match the typeface they belong to.

Each typeface has different versions for the left and right (or open and closed) quotes. Apostrophes, which are use to indicate possession and omission, are actually the same, exact glyph used for the single, closed quote, and therefore are also design-sensitive.

Inch and foot marks, also called primes, are different from quotation marks in that they more neutral in appearance (as opposed to matching each typeface), and are either straight or slightly angled, and usually tapered. The glyphs used to set primes are most often the typewriter quotes (also referred to as straight or dumb quotes) available in most fonts, which are vertical strokes.

Note that true primes are slightly angled, but since they are not available in most fonts, the vertical typewriter quotes are the accepted glyphs for measurements in typesetting.

 

The differences between smart quotes, dumb quotes, and true primes are easy to see in these examples set in Arno Pro.

Straight quotes vs smart quotes. The differences between smart quotes, dumb quotes, and true primes are easy to see in these examples set in Arno Pro.

 

The design of both smart and dumb quotes (sometimes called "straight quotes") can vary from typeface to typeface.

The design of both smart and dumb quotes (sometimes called “straight quotes”) can vary from typeface to typeface.

 

How to Avoid the Wrong Symbol

If the differences between smart and dumb quotes are so obvious, why do we see so many incorrect appearances of these characters in both print and digital media? Part of the fault lies with writers who were taught to type using old-fashioned typewriter conventions, and are not aware of the differences between these characters in proper typesetting.

Either that or they know the differences but don’t know how to access the right character in word processing software. In other cases, copy is lifted from the web, a PDF document, or from an email – all of which can result in quotes and primes being improperly designated.

Even if the copy does contain smart quotes, there are some instances that might still be wrong.

All text should be reviewed for the accurate use of primes in measurements, which might have automatically – and incorrectly – been converted to smart quotes. In addition, be sure to check that abbreviations, contractions and omissions, or all words that should begin with an apostrophe, in fact, do, rather than an open single quote.

 

Take care to use the right glyphs for both quotation marks and measurements.

Take care to use the right glyphs for both quotation marks and measurements.

 

When importing, converting, or typing text, check that the correct glyph is being used for all instances. Primes in measurements can easily appear as smart quotes (upper), while apostrophes that appear in omissions are frequently set as open single quotes (lower). When these errors appear, they need to be manually corrected.

When importing, converting, or typing text, check that the correct glyph is being used for all instances. Primes in measurements can easily appear as smart quotes (upper), while apostrophes that appear in omissions are frequently set as open single quotes (lower). When these errors appear, they need to be manually corrected.

 

But no matter how copy appears, it is up to the designer, production artist, and webmaster/programmer to make it right. Here are some tips to help get it right:

  • Begin with typographically correct copy. The default setting of most design software is to automatically use Typographer’s Quotes when typing, but this is not true for all word-processing programs. Therefore, set these preferences to convert to smart quotes. Another way to correct these errors is to use a utility such as Tex-Edit Plus that can clean up a document in seconds.
  • Import text properly, using the Place command available in most design software. When using InDesign, select Show Import Options where you can choose the Option to Use Typographer’s Quotes.
  • Review imported text and make sure all measurement are set with primes, not smart quotes.
  • Check for apostrophes (and not open single quotes) in contractions.
  • Always proof the final text carefully.
Smart quotes in word. Microsoft Word preferences can easily be set to use “smart quotation marks”.

Smart quotes in word. Microsoft Word preferences can easily be set to use “smart quotation marks”.

 

Tex-Edit Pro is a great utility that allows for quick and easy cleanup of text, including quotes.

Tex-Edit Pro is a great utility that allows for quick and easy cleanup of text, including quotes.

 

Smart Punctuation in Digital Media

The same rules and standards for printed matter apply to digital media as well, but the process of applying them might be different. If the copy is formatted correctly, smart quotes might appear automatically when inserted in digital media such as web sites, but in other cases, they will need to be replaced with HTML codes to appear correctly.

When using content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal, the ability to set these special characters (as they are often called) is often controlled by preferences in the back end. But even when set to display smart quotes, you might loose the ability to change them back to primes or apostrophes. Additionally, not all email clients (such as Constant Contact) support “smart” punctuation.

Setting type like a pro requires close attention to these – and many other details. No matter what role one plays in the process, it is important that all involved know the proper usage of quotes and primes, and review for their correct appearance.


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Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations joins us on September 14th for a live webcast to share SANDOW’s font management success story.

During a recent interview Michael talked about the critical role font management plays at SANDOW, and how finding the right font management solution has helped him and his team improve their efficiency and productivity.

Join us live on Wednesday, September 14th, 10:00 a.m. Pacific; 1:00 p.m. Eastern, where he delves deeper and shares best practices he used from planning to implementation.

Michael will talk about

  • the importance of brand consistency and font license compliance
  • challenges that led to the need for a font management solution
  • the most critical components to SANDOW in a font management solution
  • learnings in preparing for and implementing a font manager
  • SANDOW’s continuing journey with font management

Michael will be available for a live Q&A session after the webcast. After the webcast a recording will be emailed to everyone that registers.

To register, please follow this link.

Hope you can join us!


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The next installment in our Font Founders series is Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), an Italian type designer who is responsible for many of the typefaces we still use today. You may not think often about Bodoni, but he was looking ahead to you. As he said:

No other art is more justified than typography in looking ahead to future centuries; for the creations of typography benefit coming generations as much as present ones.

bodoni

 


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Dir. of Creative Ops at SANDOW talks about font manager.

 

Font management plays a key role at SANDOW, a rapidly growing global publishing and media company with brands spanning design, luxury, fashion and beauty. SANDOW’s rapid growth not only brought an ever expanding list of brands, but with each brand their own sets of fonts. This skyrocketed SANDOW’s font collection into the tens of thousands making the need for effective font management critical.

SANDOW recently joined the Extensis family. They were using a different font management solution, but when they experienced limitations in their ability to manage groups effectively, instability with other key applications and technical support that was non-existent, they made the switch to Universal Type Server.

We sat down with Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations at SANDOW to get a deeper look into his experiences with font management.

 

To hear more of Michael’s story live along with best practices he used to prepare and implement a font management solution, sign up for our webcast on Wednesday, September 14 at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern.

 

Extensis: Can you tell us a little about your role as Director of Creative Operations?

Michael: When people ask that I tell them that I’m a former creative director, which evolved into a creative operations role. I don’t design too much anymore. In my life before SANDOW, I worked for the Village Voice’s corporate entity as their design director. I gained lot of experience there with managing art departments and production work flows across the country in 15 locations. So, I had some creative operations experience with setting things up for a lot of users, across remote locations, and adding governance and things like that.

As SANDOW evolved, they brought in a Chief Operating Officer that was looking at everything and trying to combine it into more of a universal workflow where we could gain greater efficiencies. My role at SANDOW naturally evolved as well from being involved strictly with the creative and design teams to where I now I report to our COO. I’m in charge of “creative operations,” but I have a lot of things that involve just straight up operations now.

 

Extensis: Why are fonts and managing them so important to SANDOW?

Michael: Being a publishing and media company with magazines and websites that span the globe, fonts are a key component to our business. Brand consistency and license compliance are at the top of the list where fonts are concerned.

Each brand has its own fonts, which they should be able to manage. Even though the brands are well separated, there’s a lot of synergy and cross-pollination between brands. There are separate design groups, but at the same time there is some overlap.

One of the biggest problems our designers had is when they were asked to do something across brands.  They had to load the other brand’s version of the font, and may have conflicted with other fonts on their system. Sometimes they had to spend a good deal of time trying to work through the glitches of having font conflicts which wasn’t productive or efficient. Now, with a centralized system that manages our fonts, we’re able to identify the font right away and make sure everyone is using the same version. It’s one less thing for everyone to manage. We now know across all brands which font is needed, where it is, or where it should come from and if we’ve got enough licenses. I don’t see many emails anymore saying “this brand is using this weird font, and I don’t know where to get it from”.

Designers and art directors are half of our font users with an understanding and familiarity with font management. The other half are editors, brand leads and such. Typically, the second group is where we’d find we had issues because they had the access to install fonts on their machine without the understanding that fonts are software requiring licenses to adhere to. For about eight years, it was pretty common for an advertiser to send in a font that somehow landed on one of our servers, and no one knew whether they could use it or not. It became time to think about licensing and the legal implications of using these fonts. Now, I can have a lead in each brand, usually a design director or art director, who manages the fonts for that brand by adding or taking them away. It’s allowed the non-design teams not to worry about fonts. They’re there for them.

We’ve done a couple of redesigns here in the last year. We made sure we bought enough font licenses for the brand. The nice thing is I could say, which I wasn’t able to before- when we had that redesign, the brand spent money on these expensive new fonts for their redesign purchasing the correct number of seats, and then was able to remove anyone else from being able to see or use them to maintain license compliance.

 

Extensis: What were the biggest challenges that lead you to implement a font manager?

Michael: As the company grew and became a little more corporate – taking on more and more smaller companies and brands – we had to integrate everyone. One of the problems we realized pretty quickly is, like so many startup companies, we had buckets of fonts. They were either on servers or people’s desktops, or you’d find 15 copies of the same font, or 30 copies of Helvetica but they weren’t the same. I’d venture to say we had tens of thousands of fonts. That’s including things people pulled offline from free font sites, or got on discs or from the different brands. If some designer was asked to put a cowboy style ad together and they grabbed a Giddyup, it ended up on our server, along with whatever else they grabbed at that time. Any designer here, could just get what they needed and move it somewhere because it wasn’t really locked down.

It was really causing a lot of havoc with the design teams, and it was also causing concerns about compliance.

 

Extensis: Why did you choose Universal Type Server as your font manager?

Michael: The font manager we had been using previously fell short in critical areas, in particular control in setting up users and groups, serving out fonts to them and in addition lack of technical support. Universal Type Server has given us the control we need and has excellent technical support.

 

Extensis: What are some of the features that are most critical for SANDOW?

Michael: We have a lot of remote editors in different parts of the country. A big feature for us is the ability to provide remote access to our Universal Type Server so editors can synchronize and manage fonts locally lessening the traffic load to our network. The Universal Type Client synchronizes with the Server automatically so an IT person doesn’t have to remotely access each system. This makes the process extremely efficient and saves hours of valuable IT resources.

Managing users in Universal Type Server is easy. With the way the admin console is set up, and by allowing us to tie it to Active Directory; it’s easy for our users to login with the same credentials they use for everything else. While I’m not doing full group mappings, because our security groups are a little different, using Active Directory does allow me to see any new users in the system, and to pull them through.

So more efficient access overall, and less taxing on our system, because we don’t have a bunch of people logging into the VPN to get their fonts.

 

Extensis: Where are you today with fully implementing font management at SANDOW?

Michael: Our first phase was basically to replace the other font manager for every user that was on it. We’re replacing it all now and we’re pretty close to being done. That would be at least three of our main brand groups.

 

Extensis: Looking a bit into the future, what are your next steps?

Michael: The next phase is going to be adding additional groups and users that weren’t using the other font management software, they are literally using folders of fonts. Our goal is to get Universal Type Server Clients installed across all brands. I’ve actually already built out a system to support the new users.

I have a feeling the next part of the project will be doing a lot of licensing and auditing. Utilizing the reporting features in Universal Type Server will help us sort that all out.

 

Extensis: Any parting advice for someone who needs to solve their font management challenges?

Michael: I’d carve out time to set it up for success on both the technical level and the user adoption level. There may be pain points in figuring some things out but it can be simple. I think a lot of companies, if they thought they had to go all in at the beginning, it would be too daunting. I realized early on in the project, it doesn’t have to be all in at the beginning. It’s been an ongoing project.

 

Extensis: Michael, thank you for your time and sharing your story with us.

 


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