The Extensis Community Blog
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.
1. How did you get into the business of type design?
I got interested in the idea of type design when I was studying graphic design at college in the mid-seventies. My first fonts were published by FontHaus in the mid-nineties. But I wasn’t really “in the type design business” until the early 2000s, when I started selling fonts on the web. I had quit a full-time position as a graphic designer in 2000 to go into business for myself, hoping to get freelance work doing design, illustration, lettering, and type design. I did do a bit of each of those at first, but my fonts started selling well enough that by 2005 I dropped all other work except type design.
2. What fonts or type design trends are you loving these days?
I was rather dismayed by the grunge and deconstructionist type design of the nineties. It went against everything I knew about design. I didn’t really get it, and I definitely couldn’t do it without pretense. It seemed very reactionary and anti-design. So the trend I’m happiest about is the return to well-designed, well-made fonts.
3. Which of your designs are you most proud of, and why?
Probably Proxima Nova, just because it has become so popular. You always hope when you design a typeface that it will catch on with designers, but you don’t seriously expect it to happen. I feel incredibly lucky.
4. What’s your dream project?
I don’t think I have a “dream project.” I’ve always tended to follow my interests wherever they might lead, without necessarily working toward some big goal. And I have a lot of different interests, mainly in the arts—cartooning, animation, filmmaking, music, graphic design, writing, type design. It’s not really the best strategy. You end up being kind of a dabbler, not really doing anything significant in any particular area. Better to focus on one thing and stick to it if you want to be successful. But somehow type design got traction for me. It wasn’t my only dream job, but, realistically, you’re lucky to get even one of those in life.
Learn more about Mark Simonson and check out his fonts at www.marksimonson.com.
Want to learn more from other font experts? Check out our interview with Kyle Bean, a London-based artist who creates one-of-a-kind designs, distinct illustrations, and playful, concept-driven imagery for a variety of editorial and commercial projects.
What’s hot and what’s not in the font world? Find out by downloading our Type Trends Report. We surveyed thousands of graphic designers, art directors, and creative people from around the globe and combined their thoughts in our most recent report.
Polish your brand management and your image will shine
As a creative professional, you know how important image can be. Whether you are a designer, illustrator, writer, developer, photographer, project manager, or a member of an account team—helping elevate the identity of your clients is a daily task. But have you taken a step back and thought about your own brand management? As a busy professional, developing your own brand often gets pushed aside. But polishing your professional identity could be the difference in progressing your career or gaining a new client.
In this post let’s dive into the art of self-promotion and brand management. I’ll explore some tips about branding for creatives and pose questions to get the ball rolling in your professional development.
Most designers know Helvetica & Arial are not the same, but hard pressed to tell you what the differences are.
So Here’s The Inside Story!
A Bit of History
Helvetica, one the most widely-used typefaces for decades, has a long history. It was originally designed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger for the Haas Type. It was commissioned by Eduard Hoffmann, managing director of the Swiss foundry, to compete with other popular sans serifs of the day, particularly Akzidenz Grotesk.
This new design was therefore named Neue Haas Grotesk (translation: New Haas Sans Serif) to reflect this lineage.
The name was changed to Helvetica (an adaptation of Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland) by the Stempel type foundry, the parent company of Haas, to reflect its Swiss heritage. Its popularity soared in the mid-1980s when it was included in the core fonts for the Apple operating system and laser printers, alongside Times Roman and Courier.
Over the years, the Helvetica family was expanded to encompass an extensive range of weights and width variants.
Arial, on the other hand, is often viewed as the “poor man’s” Helvetica by designers. Although designed to compete with (and therefore be similar to) Helvetica, it has its own individual history and backstory. Arial was designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for Monotype.
Although created for use in an early IBM laser printer, its roots lie in the 1926 Monotype Grotesque design. In 1992, Microsoft licensed Arial to be included in the suite of fonts supplied with the Windows operating system.
The family has since been expanded beyond the original weights, and now includes 28 versions: six weights plus companion italics for the regular width, four condensed, four narrow, four rounded, and four monospaced versions.
What’s hot? What’s not? Learn more about the latest font trends by downloading our Font and Typography Trends Report.
Many of the differences between these two popular typefaces are related to their intended usage: Helvetica was designed for print, while Arial was designed for laser printers and then adapted for use on computers, both being lower resolution environments than print.
Helvetica has sharper, crisper, and more stylish details, such as the leg of the cap R, more curvy diagonal spine on the numeral 2, and horizontal or vertical end strokes on many characters.
In addition, Helvetica has a slightly higher waistline and an overall less rounded appearance than Arial. Arial, on the other hand, has a less elegant, blander appearance, most likely so that it prints well on the laser printer it was intended for. These traits also make it better for other lower resolution environments, including the web and other pre-retina and other hi res display digital environments.
Arial has softer curves and fuller counters, as well as a characteristic diagonal terminal on the t, and a curved tail on the cap Q.
Helvetica and Neue Helvetica
In 1993, D. Stempel AG, Linotype’s daughter company, released a reworking of the original Helvetica entitled Neue (New) Helvetica.
This freshened up version includes the refinement of some characters, strengthened punctuation, cap and x-height adjustments, widened cross bars, and a new numerical system to identify the weights, similar to Univers and Frutiger. It also has additional weights: eight upright versions plus italics for the regular width, obliques for the expanded versions, as well as nine weights plus obliques for the condensed.
There is also a bold outline version for the regular width. The resulting total is 51 weights in all – many more than in the original family.
Two of the most popular new weights are Ultra Light and Thin, which are intended for display usage.
For this reason, the spacing of these weights is a lot tighter than the heavier weights. The problem arises when they are used for small text (which has become a common usage), where their tight spacing makes the text look very cramped and hard to read. The solution is to open the tracking as needed to give the text more “breathing” room.
This will expand the usable size range of this still extremely popular typeface.
Not ready to quit reading? Take your font expertise to the next level. Check out our recent blog post about Abbreviations in Font Names and crack the code to various font abbreviation mysteries.
For more information on font trends, check out our Font and Typography Trends Report and get up to speed on the latest typography trends.
Part Six 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
- Part Four: Defining Brand Typography
- Part Five: Using Photography, Imagery, and Video in Your Brand
The 6-part Creating a Brand Style Guide series culminates in this final installment where you will create your brand’s style guide using this free brand style guide template.
Defining Your Brand Style
Creating a Brand Style Guide is a six-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’.
In parts one through five of the series you got to know your brand, evaluating, and defining each component from logo to colors, typography to imagery. You learned how to tell others to represent your brand and its constituent elements correctly. We explored 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 there was a solution strategy for assuring brand consistency regardless of the medium. All these parts logically come together here, now, unified into a comprehensive guide that communicates your brand style rules to anyone who works with it.
The Brand Style Guide Template
Series author Pariah Burke created a brand style guide template to help you create your own style guide. Of course, you are free to create your own brand style guide, but for those who need a little guidance or hints here and there, or even a complete turnkey template, Extensis and Pariah Burke offer you this sleek, easy to edit template free of charge.
The brand style guide template is a ready-to-edit InDesign document in both INDD and IDML file formats, making it usable in all recent versions of InDesign, including all editions of InDesign CC as well as older CS4, CS5, and CS6 versions. Download it here. Graphic designers, brand managers, and others are also welcome to use it as a foundation from which to erect brand style guides for their clients. The template is royalty free.
The template is yours to use for your own brand. Graphic designers, brand managers, and others are also welcome to use it as a foundation from which to erect brand style guides for their clients. The template is royalty free, and no credit to either Extensis or Pariah Burke is necessary in style guides used for actual brands.
For ease of use and to avoid font licensing concerns, the template employs fonts exclusively from Adobe TypeKit. The fonts are included at no additional charge in your standard CreativeCloud or CreativeCloud for Teams subscription. All linked assets in the template, including logos and images, are included strictly for demonstration purposes; they may not be used in final designs or redistributed and are protected by copyright.
To use the template, open StyleGuideTemplate.indd or StyleGuideTemplate.idml in Adobe InDesign and begin editing the text, imagery, colors, and styles as necessary to reflect your brand or the brand of your client. Use as many pages as necessary; the format and structure of the template, including the page count, is flexible and should be adjusted to the needs of your specific organization.