If you’re designing a new brand identity for a small business (<10 employees), do your client a massive favour

Use a typeface from Google Fonts. If you want to use something else, have a damn good reason.

My rationale behind this broad and blunt statement:

  1. Most small businesses will not understand font licensing, even if you try to explain it to them. They simply don’t understand that once they buy a font they’re still severely limited in how they use it. In many discussions I’ve had with a client, I may be able to impress upon them not to use Desktop-licensed fonts on their website until they’ve purchased a Web license, but once I start talking about only installing the font on one or two workstations in their company, or monitoring the pageviews and adjusting their license accordingly, the eyes glaze over and I know as soon as I walk out the door the OTF files are being attached to an email. As their brand consultant, knowing they are likely to breach their license and wilfully ignoring this likelihood doesn’t sit right with me.
  2. When a business comes to their website, Instagram, blog, etc. — even if they insist they’ll never have one, they eventually will, trust me — trying to ensure they have the right font license for Web can be very difficult. They may not even be in contact with the original designer at this point, and this situation normally results in them having to purchase a font license they may have already purchased.
  3. Often the client will have no idea what the typeface on their letterhead/business cards/etc is called. Enter services like WhatTheFont and the like, and a few hours of your precious time, often unbillable, of scrolling through lists of typefaces trying to find a match.
  4. Most importantly, most themes designed for popular front-end CMS systems such as Wordpress, Shopify, Wix, etc. will only provide typography customisation using Google Fonts, ostensibly for user-friendliness. So even if you have the web license sorted, if the client is bedded to a particular theme they can’t use it, or rely on custom CSS replacements that make their page typography flicker on load. Not a good UX.

Yes, sometimes tying in Google APIs creates privacy/GDPR issues, as well as the obvious issue of limiting the typography options to those widely used by everybody else, but until more theme developers support other services, or until foundries reform their licensing models, sadly Google Fonts should be the go-to default for small enterprises. Ultimately, a client will not care about licensing and privacy as much as they will care about their brand identity matching across channels. Save them the grief.

TLDR: If you’re not creating a medium size or larger corporate identity, stick to the Google Fonts family.

Here endeth the rant. Thanks for listening.

Started work on a new brand identity for a new start-up clothing business in Melbourne. Stay tuned…

Getting back to work

I have recently (17 March) undergone a lumbar spinal fusion surgery, which has necessitated some bed rest and limited my time in a sitting position. Of course, this restriction coupled with the few months of injury that required the surgery in the first place, has meant I haven’t been working much in these first months of 2021.

Approaching six weeks post-op now, I’m able to spend a lot more time at my workstation, which as you can imagine is a very welcome development. The time off has enabled me to get a handle on my own websites and blogs, pare down my workflows and set up some exciting new projects, this ‘professional’ or ‘work-based’ microblog being one of them.

I have a few very minor projects lined up but otherwise I am very open to new clients and projects, get in touch with me via the professional arm of my blog.

Welcome to my professional micro.blog!