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How much does typography cost?

Short Read

Typography is something that’s not often considered or factored into the cost of a branding project yet is essential in how a business communicates and is an integral part of a brand identity.

A typeface, or font family, is essentially that; a family of fonts. When we talk of a typeface, we’re referring to its aesthetics; it’s unique characteristics, style and design. A font refers to a specific cut (or weight) within that typeface. For example, Helvetica is the typeface, and Helvetica Light, Regular or Bold are all fonts within that family.

Typefaces and fonts will cost as much as you are willing to pay for them. As with most things, the more you invest in them the more unique, special and relevant they will be to you and your brand. Selecting one that’s right for you can be tricky, however there are many options out there for a range of budgets and needs:

Free

There lots of great resources available that offer free fonts for use, Google Fonts being one of the key players that instantly spring to mind. They aim to ‘make the web more beautiful, fast and open through great typography’, and collaborate with a lot of great Type Foundries – because of this, the range of available typefaces has increased rapidly from when they first started. It’s good news for designers, as it’s one of the easiest ways to make digital designs look great, and good news for you guys, as it’s really cost-effective. Win-win, right?

Well, yes and no. ‘Free’, despite being incredibly appealing, isn’t always best. Because free fonts are so easily accessible, chances are a lot of people (and brands) are using them, which could, in turn, dilute your unique offering.

Pros

  • Very cost-effective
  • Widely and easily accessible

Cons

  • Lack of stand-out
  • Minimal available characters (for example, Cyrillic, Greek)
  • Choice and variety
  • Check licensing and usage agreements – they may restrict where and how fonts can be used

Paid-for

Paid typefaces range hugely in price. There are some great reasonably-priced resources available out there, along with a plethora of type foundries that cater to more generous budgets. When it comes to cost… it’s hard to give precise ballparks. Single fonts can cost from anything between £5 to £80. Purchasing whole font families can turn out to be more cost-effective than a weight-by-weight approach, however also range significantly in price; you could spend anything from £70 to £750+, dependent on the size of the family and how you’re planning on using the font.

Pros

  • Can turn out to be quite cost-effective
  • Choice and variety

Cons

  • Lack of stand-out
  • Additional licensing requirements can significantly increase prices

Bespoke

A bespoke typeface requires more investment, both in time and money. They are what they say on the tin – bespoke to you and your brand. This is a great option for brand recognition and market stand-out. Lush is a really good example of how essential a typeface can be to a brand, and how that brand can totally disrupt the aesthetics of a sector. British type foundry Dalton Maag worked with Lush and their design agency to create something totally unique – something that would have been hard to come by had they opted for an off-the shelf typeface.

Pros

  • Bespoke to your brand
  • Specialist advice and high quality output

Cons

  • Costly
  • Time-consuming

Whichever payment tier you’re considering, you must have the correct licensing and usage agreements in place.

There are often additional charges to use typefaces on digital applications or platforms (and other channels such as digital advertising), so make sure you double-check your requirements. Cost can also depend on the number of monthly views on a website or the number of users who have access to the typeface. Again, double-check your requirements before buying – most allow one license for up to 3, but they do differ from foundry to foundry.

It may seem like a lot of money but remember that a typeface is as much of an investment to your brand as the rest of its visual identity.

 

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