Two roads to procuring fonts: Online vs offline.

Two roads to procuring fonts
Buying fonts offline through a conversation with the font provider, seems longer. But is it?
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If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Accompanying you on your company’s branding journey, this guide is designed to support you as you decide which path to take when it comes to font license acquisition.

The first path, buying font licenses online, is likely the most traveled for a reason: it’s fast! You can speed through the purchasing process, buying your font licenses on standard terms in just a few clicks. The second path, buying fonts offline through a conversation with the font provider, seems longer. But is it? Like asking a local guide for directions, this path includes the same basic options as the first but provides protection and flexibility that isn’t available through online purchases. Let’s illuminate both paths so you can better envision your font acquisition mission and avoid unwanted surprises arising on your branding journey.
 

ROAD 1: PURCHASING FONT LICENSES ONLINE ONE AT A TIME.

Most creatives will, at some point in their career, purchase font licenses on a one-off basis from an online source. This is sometimes known as the ‘pay-as-you-go’ path to font acquisition: You find a font online and, if it matches your current needs, you buy the license, download the file from the font provider’s website and insert the font software onto your desired project. Highly useful when you need a font fast, but did you spot the hazards?

 

HAZARD 1: Not reading the font EULAs

For artists thriving on impulse decisions, this strategy can feel liberating, but they still need to keep an eye out for speedbumps and pitfalls. Being vigilant on the online one-off font path requires reading font End-User License Agreements (EULAs) and checking if the permissions match your business needs.

How to prepare: Explore educational content about the importance of reading licenses before buying fonts (such as this guide, our terminology or our video on how to approach font EULAs). Don’t forget to share them with your product and marketing teams.

Every font you use is a piece of software entitled to copyright protection through licensing; Whether free or paid, acquiring a font means accepting a licensing contract on your organization’s behalf. This begs the question: Should individual employees be making these decisions on their own?

 

HAZARD 2: Not working with legal teams

This leads us straight into the next hazard: forgetting to tag in the legal team! Fonts are often seen as designer’s domain, but most organizations have protocols against accepting contracts on the company’s behalf without first consulting with legal teams. Buying font licenses online one at a time means these crucial digital assets may end up improperly licensed for the company’s needs, then require renegotiation down the line. And if teams are buying font licenses often, the issues can quickly compound into a serious gap in legal oversight. 

How to prepare: Consider the size of your organization. Legal teams weigh the risk of online purchases offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis against the benefits of the offline route with a custom agreement. The larger the organization, the more likely legal teams will advise against standardized contracts. 

The main benefit of font EULAs approved by legal teams is that it gives designers the peace of mind of knowing they are using their digital assets legitimately.

 

HAZARD 3: Losing track of font licenses

With the pay-as-you-go method, an encroaching danger needs to be considered: Over time, font licenses accumulate and the process of sharing digital assets across teams evolves, making it increasingly difficult to maintain consistently good practice. Like overpacking for a trip, juggling too many EULAs can morph into a key source of anxiety, weighing you down on your brand journey.


How to prepare: The more complex your font needs, the more likely your font files will require a complex infrastructure to help different teams find fonts and interpret licenses. From internal training to auditing, this road requires a lot of introspection.  

ROAD 2: PURCHASING FONT LICENSES OFFLINE WITH A CUSTOM SUBSCRIPTION

With the kaleidoscope of creative decisions that designers need to make when shaping a brand’s visual identity, it’s all too easy to forget to stand by administrative decisions on these fundamental digital assets. Before a project begins, too many businesses resort to the short-sighted strategy of one-off purchases that, as we’ve seen, can result in frustrating U-turns when a license management challenge arises. Luckily, there’s a more strategic and forward-thinking road.

How to prepare: Simply reach out to a trusted font provider and enquire about a custom agreement. Each font foundry offers their own unique packages with specific customization. With Monotype, Bespoke Agreements are recommended for medium and large organizations that require add-on features such as a Company Desktop License to share certain usage permissions with third parties, or more production fonts than available with online bundles. Learn how to spot signs of having outgrown existing font coverage here.

The benefit of reaching out to a font provider like Monotype for a Bespoke Agreement is self-evident: Your font coverage will fit your business needs and the agreement will give you security and predictability. But there’s a secondary benefit that also goes a long way – a single EULA covering all your font licenses. Taking a holistic approach on how to solve your font needs in the present as well as the near future compiled into a single, accessible, and comprehensive solution, takes huge administration pressures off creative and legal teams.

One of the main benefits of an Agreement over a one-off purchase is the automatic renewal features. Without needing to worry about your licenses expiring, a subscription includes replacement fonts and opportunities to upgrade rather than purchase a whole new font bundle, fueling that peace of mind that frees the creative spirit.

How to prepare: Decide if your brand goal includes a long-lasting visual identity. Connecting with a font provider like Monotype opens a dialogue about what you want from your branding journey and results in a custom-built road map to get you there. You benefit from the font provider’s expertise of the font licensing landscape, making them the ideal partner to help prepare you for any obstacles that are specific to your desired font use in the long term.
 

Although the online route seems faster and simpler at first, it’s clear that the offline route can be more flexible, offer more peace of mind, and free your creatives from administrative burdens. For medium-to-large businesses with long-term branding plans, working with reputable font providers to create custom agreements is clearly the path most travelled for good reason.

If you’re ready to make the transition towards offline font purchases with Monotype, reach out to us at [email protected] and let us lighten the load of licensing fonts with a single EULA that fits and keeps things simple so your branding efforts don’t fall apart at the ‘seems’.

Two roads to procuring fonts: Online vs offline.
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