The Extensis Community Blog
It was recently reported that free font site DaFont.com was hacked.
Hackers gained access to almost 700,000 usernames, passwords, forum posts and private messages.
The site hosts a very large collection of free fonts. While some of these are original creations, there are some fonts where an unscrupulous person has slightly modified, renamed, or outright pirated professional, paid fonts and uploaded as their own creation.
Using fonts that have unknown origins like the second case poses a real risk to any professional designer. If discovered in use, the type foundry who created the original work can go after the designer for use of unlicensed fonts. This can cause embarrassment for you, your clients, and even lead to legal entanglements.
Extensis recommends only working with legitimate type foundries and retailers who are creating and distributing fonts for sale.
If you choose to work with “free” fonts, be sure that your fonts are coming from a reputable distributor, such as Google Fonts, or directly download fonts from the type foundry itself. For example, many foundries like FontFabric give away some weights of their font collection for free use.
Of course, you will always want to consult the End User License Agreement (EULA) to ensure that your intended use is covered. For example, many “free” fonts are free for personal use only, and if the intended use is commercial, you will be required to purchase a separate license. If you’re in doubt about usage restrictions, contact the foundry to clarify.
When you are managing your font collection, we highly recommend that you track your purchases, and ensure that the right number of licenses are purchased for your intended use.
Extensis font managers can help you track your collection, usage and ensure that fonts are properly distributed to your entire team. Take one of our font managers out for a spin and see for yourself with a free trial:
- Universal Type Server – for teams that want efficient font distribution, synchronization and complete font license management compliance and control, provided by an on-premise server.
- Suitcase TeamSync – for small teams that need fast font distribution through a cloud-based font server.
- Suitcase Fusion – font single users who want to manage fonts on up to two machines.
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.”
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May 11th, 2017 by Jim Kidwell
Font expert, Jim Kidwell, rolls the dice along the famous Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas!
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a new conference for Extensis, IAITAM ACE. This conference covered everything from managing the hardware of workstations in worldwide organizations to the license compliance management of fonts across teams.
The session that I presented covered the risks that fonts introduce into organizations who aren’t properly managing and tracking their font licenses. If you weren’t able to attend, or missed the session, you are welcome to check out the slides from the presentation.
While I was in the Las Vegas area, I would have been very sad if I didn’t make a trek to the Neon Museum and most importantly, the Neon Boneyard. As a typography nerd and sign enthusiast, it’s been on my list ever since it opened.
If you are able to make it to Vegas, I highly recommend scheduling a visit. In the meantime, I’m happy to share a few of my pictures as a bit of enticement. Definitely worth a visit, don’t you think?
Do you want some more font entertainment? Check out our interview with type designer Mark Simonson. He discusses his type design expertise and why he loves what he does.
Tags: font compliance
Comic Sans: The Problem, The Solution, The Alternatives
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.
Learn more about the latest trends in typography. Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll learn all about what’s hot and what’s not straight from graphic designers and art directors from around the globe.
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.
Want to learn more about Type Trends? Check out what’s hot and what’s not in our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll learn all about the latest trends in typography.
Tags: Comic Sans
We published this article last year and it was hit. So, we thought we would publish this article again as a refresher. Enjoy!
Learn how to get free fonts via Google Fonts
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.
Want to know more about which typefaces are currently the “most loved” or “most hated” by experts in the design industry? Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography.
April 18th, 2017 by Jim Kidwell
Helvetica is one of the world’s most recognizable typefaces. Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica was created in 1957 by designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffman (its name was changed 4 years later when it was licensed by Linotype). Helvetica quickly rose to prominence because of its legibility and versatility. 50 years later, it’s still going strong. In 2007, Gary Hustwit released a critically-acclaimed feature-length documentary (called “Helvetica”) about its impact and influence on the world of design.
What’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography? Our Type Trends Survey Report will tell you just that. Download the report and learn the latest trends.
But familiarity often breeds contempt.
Erik Spiekermann said “People use Helvetica because it’s ubiquitous. It’s like going to McDonalds instead of thinking about food.”
Wolfgang Weingart went a step further: “Anyone who uses Helvetica knows nothing about typefaces.”
Other well-known designers were not quite as harsh.
Steff Geissbuhler called Helvetica “still the most versatile, classic, and readable of all typefaces.”
And Hamish Muir joked that “We hate to like Helvetica.”
So…if you’re a designer, you might be looking for fonts like Helvetica that aren’t so overused. Good news! Our friends at Identifont, Fontspring, Typewolf, and MyFonts recommended several similar grotesk sans-serif typefaces that we’ve assembled here to help you broaden your design pallette:
Created by the URW++ foundry in 1995 as an alternative to Helvetica, Nimbus Sans serves as an effective Helvetica doppelgänger.
Identifont did a side-by-side comparison of the two. Have a look for yourself!
Inspired by Helvetica, Pragmatica was designed at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1989 by Vladimir Yefimov (later styles were developed by Olga Chaeva, Alexander Tarbeev, and Manvel Shmavonyan with participation from Dmitry Kirsanov).
Again, practically identical to Helvetica and Nimbus Sans.
Designed by Jeremie Hornus, Volkart is a Latin-script typeface that was published by Indian Type Foundry in 2015.
Looking for some options that aren’t so close to the vest? Extensis wrote this great piece about Helvetica alternatives that feel “modern, classic, and universal” without being quite so similar.
Helvetica alternative recommendations:
Stag Sans (Commercial Type)
Open Sans (Google Fonts)
Proxima Nova (Mark Simonson)
Effra (Jonas Schudel)
Aktiv Grotesk (Bruno Maag)
LFT Etica (TypeTogether)
Franklin Gothic URW T (URW++)
News Gothic (Bitstream)
So there you have it—several typefaces that are remarkably similar to Helvetica and a few that deviate a bit but still serve the same purpose.
Want to know more about which typefaces are currently the “most loved” or “most hated” by experts in the design industry? Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography.
Extensis Breakfast Donation Drive
How does free breakfast help our community?
Don’t they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Not only does food fuel inspiration, but it’s also great leverage to garner support for a good cause. Jennifer Grebil, Extensis Customer Service Supervisor, knows this better than anyone. She also knows how to prepare a mean breakfast and wanted to do something good for the local community. So, Jennifer and her team did what they do best (other than support our customers!) and cooked a breakfast feast for Extensis employees in exchange for a cash donation that benefited not one, but two charities:
Family Dogs New Life
FDNL is a no-kill dog shelter dedicated to saving dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds because, like their motto says, “…all dogs deserve a second chance.” They provide shelter for dogs that need it. They also offer adoption services for people interested in giving these animals a loving home.
Free Hot Soup
Junko Suzuki, Extensis Graphic Designer, and a few of her compassionate and generous friends started Free Hot Soup. This isn’t your typical non-profit organization, but simply a group of everyday people with a desire to help the homeless during this unusually cold winter. They use their own resources to make and deliver soup to the homeless population in Portland. Free Hot Soup also delivers blankets, coats, and gloves. Their slogan: “200% effort made for houseless folks.”
On Thursday morning, Extensis employees were lured into the lounge as soon as they stepped off the elevators by the scent of French toast and the sizzling sound of sausages on the griddle. The customer service team concocted quite a spread that included French toast, sausage (vegetarian as well), eggs, potatoes, all the fixings to make a breakfast burrito, and of course, OJ. All this was available to team Extensis in exchange for a donation of any size.
Extensis raised 800 dollars, which was split between both charities! The power of breakfast is real!
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.
Tags: Extensis employees
April 6th, 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.
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.
What happens when Rights Management & DAM join forces?
First of all, what is Rights Management?
Well, Rights Management is a method organizations use to ensure proper usage of licensed content. For instance, an ad campaign has a plethora of moving parts that need to be managed. From images to music and everything in between, each element can have contractual usage rights based on geography, layout, timeframe, etc. Having to navigate through complex contracts and legal documents to track down content rights for all of those parts can create a bottleneck in the creative process – sometimes bringing the whole process to a costly standstill. Rights Management software removes this bottleneck; saving time and cost.
What is the connection between Digital Asset Management and Rights Management?
If we know that Digital Asset Management gives organizations the capability to categorize, securely share, and organize assets so they can be used efficiently, then we can see how Rights Management provides critical rights clearance information to users so they know what assets they can and can’t use. The marriage between digital asset management and rights management allows organizations to be more effective in managing their content while reducing the risk of violating copyright regulations.
FADEL© ARC meets Extensis Portfolio and Voila!
Coming this summer, the FADEL ARC Connector for Extensis Portfolio will directly align DAM with Rights Management, so users can quickly see and understand the usage rights their assets have. This allows marketing teams and agencies to deliver rapid-fire campaigns without the risk of exposing their organization to litigation due to using unapproved assets.
“As organizations’ digital asset libraries grow exponentially, we are committed to introducing new innovations that enable our clients to more effectively manage their content,” said Toby Martin, Vice President of Development & Strategy at Extensis. “The need for rights management has never been greater.”
FADEL recently spoke at the Extensis Font Management and Digital Asset Management event in New York City.
To listen to their presentation and other partners who spoke at the event, please visit our Future Tech for Creative Teams resource page.
To learn more about how Digital Asset Management software can streamline your organization’s workflow by categorizing, securely sharing, and archiving content, download our free Digital Asset Management Best Practices Guide.