Blog, Branding, Graphic Design, Print Marketing, Web Design

3 Ways Free Fonts Can Cost Your Business

Imagine Apple taking all their websites, packaging, and even their commercials, and replacing their signature font, Myriad, with… Comic Sans. Would Apple still ‘feel’ like the Apple you’ve come to know and love?

Your choice of font can say a lot about what you and your business stands for. Type purists go as far to claim that you can’t even BEGIN to design without type – and really, there’s no arguing against it. In order to create a logo, construct a solid brand identity, or produce an amazing print design, you have to know your typography.

But don’t expect them to come cheap – polished typefaces can take years to develop! In the commercial market, single-style fonts (such as Regular or Italic) usually range from $20 to $100 EACH, and large families of these styles can cost up to $600!

Because of that, you’ll often find designers and businessmen searching for “free fonts” on Google. Once they do, they’ll likely encounter a huge list of websites that offer their favourite fonts for free.

But remember that old adage, “when something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is?” Tread lightly, because relying on free fonts in your marketing pieces can cost you dearly, in more ways than one!

1. Ad-ware Central

In reality, free fonts don’t come as easy as you think. You’ll find that many of the websites that supposedly provide free font downloads usually contain a lot of ads – many of which aim to click-bait you by disguising themselves as download buttons. These ads may direct you to spam pages, or even download unwanted programs and pesky mal-ware to your machine!

And don’t go thinking you’re lucky if you succeed in downloading an actual font file. There’s a fair chance for it to be corrupt, which may threaten the stability of your system if you install it onto your database.

2. Free Fonts Can Be Licensed

Let’s say you made it past all that nonsense and obtained a free, legitimate download of your desired font. Unfortunately, there’s more bad news: many free fonts aren’t really free.

Here’s the deal: typefaces are creative works. Think of them the same way you think of movies, music, or any other artistic creations. When you purchase a Blu-ray, you’re not actually buying the ownership of the content itself. What you’re purchasing is the right to watch the creative work on that Blu-ray disc.

The same story applies to when you download fonts! Even if you do get a font for free, the typeface itself belongs to the type designer who created it! So when you do find a legitimate ‘free’ download, you’ll find that they’re usually packaged with a very strict licensing agreement. For instance, have you ever noticed a text document that came compressed with your font file? That document probably contains legal text explaining that the font is free for personal use only.

Many ‘free fonts’ out on the web are licensed, so you’ll have to pay a fee to use them for commercial purposes. And if you don’t, that’s fine too. Just be aware that you’re playing a dangerous game – NBC Universal was hit with a $1.5 million copyright infringement for the use of unlicensed fonts!

3. Inferior Bootleg Fonts

And sometimes, the font you end up downloading may just be a ‘bootleg’. It might seem great, at first, to the untrained eye – who cares about authenticity, when it looks the same as the original?

In reality, bootleg fonts lack the precision and detail that you’d find in the originals. If you look closely, you might find that the letters are fragmented and the edges are rough! To top it off, you’re probably going to be missing special letters, symbols and ligatures. In the end, the bootleg font you installed won’t do much for anyone.

When you create a logo, you want to be mindful of your choice of font. That’s because fonts communicate more than just words – they evoke certain associations, moods, and feelings! With that said, would you really want your brand design to be associated with all the negative connotations of a bootleg?

Don’t Take The Easy Way Out

Free fonts can be anything but free! They’re products of years of meticulous designing and testing, wrapped by layers of licensing agreements and restrictions. Why risk all the effort you put into your marketing pieces, and jeopardize your brand identity you worked so hard to construct?

Just do your business a favour, and go for legitimate fonts from reputable suppliers. Adobe and MyFonts are great places to start looking!

With that said, we hope you’ll make a wise and safe choice when it comes to choosing fonts for your next marketing project!

Do you need assistance with designs that reflect your business? Our graphic design experts can help you design brand essentials for your company, such as your stationery, direct mailers, posters, website or other marketing pieces! Contact a Print Three office near you to get started.

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