Font Brands are as Distinctive as the Fonts They Publish

It goes without saying that fonts are as critical as colors, designs or markers in conveying the value and promise of a company’s brand. Research has shown that type font characteristics have been shown to influence consumers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality through the use of naturalness, harmony, and flourish.

But how do those fonts, as products, confer meaning upon the companies that publish, sell, and distribute them?

A recent survey was conducted on the Font Purchasing Habits of creatives around the world, which included 1,377 of you, our Extensis customers. Among many insights provided via the results of this survey, one set measured the brand associations of a small set of font publishers:

  • Adobe
  • Monotype
  • Google Fonts
  • MyFonts
  • Creative Market

Specifically, the brand associations measured in this query included:

  • Accessible
  • Authority
  • Cutting-edge
  • Democratic
  • Elite
  • Friendly
  • Historic
  • Monopoly
  • Trendy

Analyzing these data to understand the brand perceptions Extensis customers have regard to these brands, a type of mapping analysis was used to visualize the relationships of these brands to their associated attributes, and to each other. In fact, branding research is a great application for principal components analysis and the kind of maps it produces. When assessing alignment of the brand perceptions to the brand, measuring both emotional and reputational attributes in a competitive context as was done here, a brand map visually portrays how a brand is currently perceived through its attribute associations vis-à-vis where the client wants the brand.


To interpret this map, some guidelines include:

  • Attributes near the center differentiate least among brands. In this case, while cutting-edge and democratic associate well with Google Fonts, they differentiate less well compared to brands and attributes toward the periphery. Hence, they tend to be indistinct within this competitive context.
  • Cardinal directions have no meaning; only distances between points matter. For instance, Monotype and historic associate very well given their proximity, as does Creative Market and trendy, but no meaning can be inferred by the fact that both pairs are on opposite sides of the map, other than the two brands associate very poorly with the attributes across the map from each other.
  • Brands that share attributes in common will often bookend attributes, regardless of the distance. For instance, Adobe and Google Fonts share associations with monopoly and authority between them. But while Google Fonts shares other associations that pull it toward the center, Adobe differentiates on these two attributes only which results in its position toward the periphery.

So when considering how to successfully merge brands, as Monotype did with MyFonts when it acquired Bitstream in 2011, a couple strategies emerge:

  • Monotype, given its distinctive brand profile separate and apart from MyFonts, can internalize MyFonts as a distinct entity, allowing the MyFonts brand to maintain its perception as accessible and friendly, thus expanding Monotype's own brand portfolio while not changing either specific brand perception with customers.
  • Monotype, given its historic brand perception, can attempt to share or extend its brand by branding MyFonts or internalizing it completely, thereby blending the attributes MyFonts brings with its own in an attempt to augment or broaden its own brand perceptions organically.

Success is in the execution, and thankfully Monotype executed the former strategy rather than the latter in 2011, because brands matter. Whether they are represented by the fonts used for the name, the colors or the markings, brands and their representation connote the promise made to customers and the company’s ability to execute on that promise.


DarrinHDarrin Helsel – Sr. Customer Insights Manager

Darrin Helsel has been working in market research, in service to the technology industry, for over 15 years. As Sr. Customer Insights Manager for Extensis, his mission is to leverage his expertise to collect and channel customer insights in support of customers getting more from their digital assets, fonts and images. When he's not asking questions or analyzing data, he and his family are exploring all that the great Pacific Northwest has to offer, either on bicycle or motorcycle. And during the wet months, as a self-reported comics geek, you may find him home reading or in the movie theater consuming the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.