The Extensis Community Blog
January 28th, 2017 by Extensis
How did a global media & publishing firm save 30% in spend with a font management solution?
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 came their own sets of fonts. This skyrocketed SANDOW’s font collection into the tens of thousands making the need for effective font management critical.
We sat down with Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations at SANDOW and asked him a few questions about his font management challenges and how they were resolved.
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.
Michael: 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”.
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.
It was really causing a lot of havoc with the design teams, and it was also causing concerns about compliance.
SANDOW already had a different font management solution in place, 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. Since making the switch, they have experienced 10,000 fewer fonts, a reduction in IT Requests by almost 60%, and a 30% reduction in spend.
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.
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.
For more on font management best practices, download our font management best practices guide.
January 24th, 2017 by Jim Kidwell
Got font management needs? We’ve got answers.
Want to learn more about all of the font management applications that we carry? Here’s your chance to see them in action.
Join us for a detailed webcast where we will go through how you can use FontGenius, FontDoctor, Suitcase Fusion and Suitcase TeamSync to help speed your workflow.
- How to identify unknown fonts
- How to protect your fonts from corruption
- Effective font organization, activation and usage efficiencies
- Techniques for font sharing across multiple machines
If you register but can not attend, a recording will be emailed to you.
Part Four of Creating a Brand Style Guide
The 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 Three: Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media
Design is how you look. Type is how you sound. The tone of voice used by your type is your brand’s fonts. They need to be carefully selected, faithfully synchronized, and rigorously protected as the licensed intellectual property they are.
In the previous installment, Part 3: “Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media,” we discussed the importance of color as a brand asset and identifier. You learned how to start off selecting brand colors for matching rendering in all media, using print colors as the foundation. With print-ready colors in hand, you then converted them to screen-ready RGB and ultimately hex color codes for Web- and mobile-applications. Your brand colors defined, you then learned to communicate the values and formulas of those colors, and their roles within the brand, via your organization’s brand style guide.
Fonts Give Your Brand a Tone of Voice
I’ve been quoted as having said: “People respond more to how you look and sound than to what you actually say. Design is how you look; type is how you sound.” The last statement is an axiom to keep in mind as you consider the typefaces—fonts—that represent your brand. Another aphorism I’m found of is “a typeface is the tone of voice in which the mind’s ear hears your written message.” Printed text is how your brand is represented when you aren’t there to speak for it. The fonts you use to set that text provide the tone and emotional context for your printed words. As the brand manager, you should be as meticulous in choosing and controlling the fonts used to represent your brand as the colors and imagery.
Commission a Custom Font
To truly make your brand unique you can commission a custom font. A bespoke typeface would be yours and yours alone, giving your brand a unique voice. If the idea sounds far-fetched, it isn’t; it’s quite common. Adobe, British Airways, Buccellati, Domino’s, Dwell Magazine, General Electric, HarperCollins, News Corp., Sony, Southwest Airlines, and Zazzle are just a few companies who wanted signature fonts that were genuinely signature—unique and designed to the brand. Even humble Times New Roman, the ubiquitous typeface pre-installed on every computer since 1992, was a custom font commissioned in 1931 to give its purchaser, the London newspaper, The Times, an exclusive and highly readable typeface.
Typekit is a great service that Adobe provides for their creative cloud subscribers. It allows you to do two main things:
- Use a wide variety of fonts in the Typekit collection for text on websites
- Synchronize some of those fonts from Typekit for use with your desktop apps
Font managers like Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server are designed to manage your own collection of licensed fonts. They take your entire valuable collection of fonts and put them into a central location that is easily accessible by you and your team.
Typekit does not manage fonts that you have licensed or downloaded from locations other than Typekit.
@beatkat Typekit is not a font mgmt tool. You can sync TK font selections on your own machines, but you can’t share fonts with other users.
— Adobe Typekit (@typekit) January 5, 2017
There are spots where you may hear the term “font manager” in relation to Typekit. The Adobe documentation for Typekit does at times refer to the web tool that controls the download of fonts to your desktop as a “font manager.” This web tools only manages fonts in the sense that it pushes fonts from the Typekit database down to your machine, that is all.
When those Typekit fonts are available on your desktop, Suitcase Fusion and other professional font management tools automatically detect the downloaded fonts and make them available for use.
Because the average designer has over 4,000 fonts in her collection, keeping all of those fonts available for use, while not necessarily active on the system is critical for speedy, error-free design work.
If you are interested in testing a professional font manager in your workflow, all Extensis font managers are available for use in free 30-day trials.
January 4th, 2017 by Jim Kidwell
@TerriMarsh11 Weird…Had no idea of this man’s Existence. Is it possible to copy-write Type face⁉️
— Cher (@cher) December 22, 2016
Type designer Moshik Nadev created his work Paris Logo back in 2011 and claims that the design used on her album cover is a rip-off of his. They do seem to be quite similar, it’s pretty plain to see.
Now, does this warrant a $5 million dollar lawsuit? That’s an interesting question.
While I’m not a lawyer, from what I understand, typefaces themselves can’t be copyrighted, but the software used to deliver then can.
So, did the person who drew Cher’s logo draw everything for themselves? Or did they take the “shortcut” and digitally copy Nadev’s work?
Most of us know that you can’t copy, share or rename a font file and sell it as your own. Maybe this type of use falls into a gray area. It depends upon how the final artwork was created.
Of course, I would not recommend that you pirate, steal or illegally download any creative work that you don’t have rights to use. As creative professionals, we do ourselves a disservice if we choose to ignore the right that others have to fair compensation for their creative work.
If you need help keeping your team on the legal straight and narrow when it comes to fonts, take a moment to check out Universal Type Server. It’s built from the ground up to help you manage font distribution and keep your team’s legal worries at bay.
Celebrating 2016 & the beginning of an exciting 2017: Extensis style
An Extensis celebration means blackjack and roulette with Monopoly© money, booze, a photo booth, and karaoke. I mean, that’s all you really need to have an exciting holiday party, right? Well, that and remarkable co-workers that help round out the year and start a new one with a bang! That final ingredient was definitely on point at the Extensis Holiday Party.
The party delighted employees with great food and unlimited spirits at Cooper’s Hall, a winery and tap room. Cooper’s Hall is one of a kind with a charming, festive ambiance and wine on tap for patrons to enjoy. Yep, wine on tap.
Besides unlimited beverages, employees relished fine apps, and entertainment.
…however, a few ended the night in a big way. While many had a blast playing blackjack and roulette with faux dollars, a few actually won big! Congrats to our first place casino winner, Brooks Brown, Sr. Software Engineer and our second place winner, Don Johnson, Technical Writer. Both turned the most “fake money” by the end of the night.
There were also many raffles prizes and winners, but Kris Hurrle, Support Technician, took home the biggest prize of the night: an Ipad Mini!
Congrats to all the winners and the Extensis crew for another stellar year…and many fabulous photo booth pics to share and be proud or embarrassed of!
Here, at Extensis, we develop font management and digital asset management software and we have a blast doing it. To learn more about what we do and our company culture, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Interested in joining our team? Check out our careers page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This year we had the pleasure of interviewing type designers, foundry founders, art directors, educators, calligraphers, graphic designers, hand-letterers, and more. Our 4 Questions 4 series showcased these ultimate typographical innovators and some of their stories. We asked each artist four questions, and they shared what led them to typography, which trends they were admiring, the projects in which they took the most pride, and their dream projects.
As 2016 draws to a close, we want to celebrate the project by thanking our 4 Questions 4 contributors, and sharing a few of their excellent responses.
1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?
“I used to make little teen magazines as a kid – tiny folded spreads about the Jackson 5 and the Partridge Family.” – Gail Anderson
Many of our interviewees are like Anderson; they’ve been involved with art and typography since a young age. Going back through all of our 2016 interviews, we are inspired by the number of grandparents, teachers, and friends who encouraged our budding type-stars.
Roger Black’s dad was an architect. “While grounded in history,” Black said, “my father was an individualist, and he said that good designers should have their own styles.” Alejandro Lo Celso’s father and grandfather were architects, too, and his grandmother was a calligrapher. Of his early influences, he said: “it came naturally.” Even for those designers who did not necessarily have artistically inclined families, early exposures and positive encounters with art were important motivators. Dan Rhatigan recalled: “Although I thought I wanted to draw comic books when I was growing up, my time helping with my high school newspaper really exposed a much greater love for design and playing with type.”
2. What typography trends are you loving these days?
“Hand lettering…. We live in such a digital world nowadays that anything made with evidence of the human hand has become something special.” – Alexandra Snowdon
Many of our 4Q4 artists expressed a sentiment similar to Snowdon’s. The rise of hand lettering has been an exciting trend to follow, admire, and practice. Some of our interviewees explained it as a response to the internet boom; others cited improvements in web type and technology. “Web typography is no longer just trying to imitate print, but is developing into a culture of its own,” said Shoko Mugikura and Tim Ahrens. And Ludwig Übele rejoiced in aesthetic and functional typographic innovations. “The quality of use releases creative energies!” Übele exclaimed. Jackson Cavanaugh also acknowledged that graphic designers have been more committed to creative type. “Designers are looking for more expression and authenticity,” Cavanaugh said, “and this is opening the door for some people doing really interesting (and great) work.”
Our foundry founders and type makers chimed in as well. As a font creator, David Berlow considered his relationship with trends. “As a tool maker,” Berlow considered, “I love what I’m making for others to use, and when I let it go, I love the next one.” According to Berlow, trends are for those consuming his work to decide, while he moves on to the next creation. Alejandro Lo Celso summed up Berlow’s ideas saying, “A typeface you publish is like a daughter that leaves home and makes her own path. One day she comes back home with a boyfriend… and who knows if you’ll like him.”
3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?
From window displays to experimental multicolored designs, our interviewees had ample projects to be proud of. The range of creations were impressive, and the reasons to consider them fondly were even more endearing. A few of our artists were proud of the project that most challenged them. Kyle Bean described a highlight of his career by saying: “It was an amazing experience, but also kind of terrifying.” Bean wasn’t alone in embracing fear to create an unforgettable product. Chank Diesel is most proud of his Liquorstore font, which was used on the cover of the Hunger Games and Zodiac Legacy books, “because it’s taken a long time to mature but it looks stronger than ever now.”
The struggle and the pride that comes with tackling a challenge were echoed throughout many interviews. Laura Worthington talked about Charcuterie, which she designed in 2013. “Very few collections were out at the time, and the concept of a collection was still very new,” Worthington said. She described Charcuterie’s launch as a huge risk, but one she continues to take pride in.
Artists are innovators, and innovation is driven not only by talent, but also by a willingness to take a risk, and step into the unknown.
4. Describe your dream project.
“Hi, it’s Costa Rica calling. Would you mind coming over for some weeks to design a new typeface for our tourist board? We have a beautiful apartment for you at the sea.” – Ludwig Übele
Our artists’ dreams ranged from redesigning the information system on Germany’s highway to working with the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Other artists were nostalgic, dreaming of finishing the first typeface they ever designed. However, on the whole, most were either content in the present or eagerly looking forward to the future. Roger Black was especially enthused about his present work. “It’s always the current project!” he said proudly. Mark Simonson felt similarly saying, “I don’t think I have a ‘dream project.’ I’ve always tended to follow my interests wherever they might lead.” David Carson mentioned enjoying projects that give him creative freedom, or a new topic or audience, but he agreed that he’s done some of his “dream jobs” already. Our future-facing artists dreamed of working with large design-conscious brands and good-hearted non-profits alike; they were excited to produce work across a series of platforms, and to get into the details of typesetting.
Others dreamed of travel, guided by their passion for type. “My dream project starts with: ‘And so we’re sending you to Italy for a few months…’ Enough said.” We think so, too, Anderson.
We wish each of our 2016 interviewees good luck on their current projects, dream projects, and beyond. From those who felt “inside the dream” to the artists on the brink of the next best thing, we are grateful for your tenacity and creativity and look forward to all that you will accomplish in 2017!
Vincent Connare was trying to fix a communication problem: He was working on a computer program called Microsoft Bob that was intended to appeal to children—but the Times New Roman typeface being used in the word balloons felt too serious for the unsophisticated, cartoony artwork. He needed something more whimsical and silly to make the design feel coherent.
Connare created a brand new typeface (based on the lettering style of his favorite comic books) that he felt would be more appropriate for the target demographic.
And that’s how Comic Sans was born! To achieve visual unity, to properly convey the right feeling to the right audience. (Oh, the irony…)
Comic Sans quickly became popular with educators and parents as the go-to typeface for everything kid-friendly.
That was 1994. Fast-forward to 2016 and no typeface has been used more frequently to convey the wrong message to the wrong audience than Comic Sans.
You’re probably heard of the EPIC DESIGN FAILS. Comic Sans at the Dutch war memorial. Comic Sans on printed materials giving advice to rape victims. The salty Comic Sans letter that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote when LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland in 2010.
TragiComic Sans, indeed.
The internet went meme crazy with snarky delight. Artists everywhere created intentionally crappy designs with Comic Sans as the centerpiece. The much-maligned typeface (“most hated” by countless surveys) became such a punchline that eventually designers banded together to speak out against it, some even (semi-seriously) calling for its demise.
Here’s a witty excerpt from the BanComicSans Manifesto:
“Like the tone of a spoken voice, the characteristics of a typeface convey meaning. The design of the typeface is, in itself, its voice. Often this voice speaks louder than the text itself. Thus when designing a “Do Not Enter” sign the use of a heavy-stroked, attention-commanding font such as Impact or Arial Black is appropriate. Typesetting such a message in Comic Sans would be ludicrous. Though this is sort of misuse is frequent, it is unjustified. Clearly, Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.”
So naturally there was a rebuttal from “defenders of Comic Sans” who imagined an entire Comic Sans world because “Helvetica is so 2011.”
It’s really fun to ridicule Comic Sans. We’ve all done it. But if you’re designing some artwork for a very casual event—a kid’s birthday party, school function, or lemonade stand—you might be considering Comic Sans. Or wondering where to find alternatives to Comic Sans that won’t incur the wrath of your judgmental designer buddies. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our friends at Identifont, Fontspring, Typewolf, and MyFonts recommended several similar typefaces to help you broaden your design palette:
Lexia (or Lexie) Readable
Lexia was designed by Ron Carpenter in 2007 as an alternative to Comic Sans that had maximum legibility and clarity but without the comic book associations. The non-symmetrical letter forms are widely believed to assist dyslexic readers, though no official proof of this exists.
Designed by James Greishaber in 2011, this “low contrast, semi-geometric typeface” is a suitable Comic Sans replacement that works well for medium-large text sizes.
Craig Rozynski designed Comic Neue in 2014 specifically to be a modern, more refined version of Comic Sans.
“Comic Neue aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone, including the typographically savvy. The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of CS have been beaten into shape while mantaining the honesty that made CS so popular.” -from ComicNeue.com
I hope these suggestions are useful in making your design elements feel more connected and complete. There’s a time and a place to be silly…and you need to be armed with the right typefaces to make sure that nobody takes those moments too seriously.
Vincent Connare didn’t create Comic Sans to be the laughingstock of the industry. He was simply ensuring that the message of his work wasn’t being lost because of a disconnect between visual and text. FWIW he also designed Trebuchet and Magpie and has a reputation as an excellent graphic communicator.
Looking for alternatives to Helvetica next? Check out my previous post here.
As designers, we all love having a wide selection of tools to get the job done. My obsession, and probably yours as well, is fonts.
Whether you’re just starting out as a designer, or have been in the industry for years, tapping into a new source of fonts is desirable, and when that source of fonts is FREE, well, hey, it’s almost a requirement!
And this is where our hero, Google Fonts steps through the door.
Originally conceived as a fast and easy way to use new and interesting fonts on the web, the fonts are all open-source and available for download and use on your desktop.
Want to download all of the Google Fonts quickly and automatically as they are added? Suitcase Fusion can do that. With the connection enabled, all of the current Google Fonts are always, automatically downloaded to your machine.
To enable the Google Fonts connection in Suitcase Fusion:
- Launch Suitcase Fusion
- Choose File > Enable Google Fonts
- A new Google Fonts library is added and the font collection is automatically synched to your machine. The fonts can be activated and deactivated like any other font.
- At any time, you can check for new Google Fonts. To do so choose File > Synchronize Fonts.