Good Type part 10: Good type can stretch.

Choosing a typeface to represent a brand’s voice isn’t an easy decision, and it becomes more complicated when companies have to factor in the future. Type offers brands an immense amount of value, but it needs to be able to stretch.

This means designers and companies should be thinking longterm when choosing fonts, and understand how the demands being made on them may change in years to come.

“We need to be careful that our font choices don’t paint ourselves and our clients into a corner,” says Monotype Director of Product Design Jamie Neely. “The use cases of today may be different from the use cases of tomorrow. That means asking questions that aren’t about the design itself. Who designed this? Will they be around in five years if I need to extend this? Is it worth it? Will I regret this?”

One thing that can help designers plan ahead is understanding licensing, and the various options that offers them. It helps to compare the different models available, and see how they work with the brand’s needs, and future plans.

As well as the longterm value of fonts for brands, it’s worth bearing in mind the time that’s gone into creating each design. Fonts are often labors of love, taking months or years to complete. It’s reflected in the end product, which has the ability to fundamentally change how a brand interacts with the world. Consumers expect consistency across every experience they have of a brand, and type is a major part of that. Many designers will be familiar with how type can become a consistent touchpoint, particularly those that have spent years, or even decades, becoming familiar with one typeface.

“That relationship is valuable, and it speaks to what I think is different about type,’ says Neely, who says our interaction with letterforms goes beyond TV series, movies or photography. “For me type is different. It gets better over time. Type is a raw and vital ingredient in any brand, that can be remixed over time. It embeds itself in the aesthetic of products, services and everything else we know.

“To me type should be valued in a different way, and that really speaks to the investment in it, and the amount of time designers spend looking at it, rationalizing it, describing it to clients and helping them understand its value.”

Good type can stretch.