Why do premium brands use free fonts?

Jean Louis's picture

I actually like Montserrat, Lato, Raleway, for what they are. But why do brands like D&G and Armani, who can certainly afford custom fonts, stick with Google fonts?

Is Lato really the font that comes to your mind for a bio of Lionel Messi (D&G site)?

riccard0's picture

For the same reasons they all had horrible flash sites until yesterday.

Thylacine's picture

From personal experience, I've run into clients while designing websites that specifically request certain Google fonts. They can afford better, but for whatever reason, they regard Google fonts as the "in" thing, the latest in technology or something they decided upon because they were able to easily research it themselves.

I've also run into situations where previous designers (both contract and in-house) have chosen free fonts for the simple reason that they're easy and don't involve the hassle of an extra client charge or running a purchase order though their company's fiscal people. Or maybe they tried a free font at first as sort of a place holder, then decided they actually liked it.

Jean Louis's picture

Thanks both for your reply. Makes sense Thylacine, it doesn't seem like it's all very thoughtful.

Si_Daniels's picture

I'd guess there are performance reasons too, as these fonts are likely cached on users machines, they are almost like web safe fonts, in terms of perf.

Jean Louis's picture

Yes, performance is a point, Si_Daniels. But I'd guess premium brands would have the means to invest in some well crafted (web)fonts.

Often, among hotels and resorts, for instance, Google fonts have become the go-to solution. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing. Most people won't notice a big difference anyway.

JamesM's picture

Most CEOs aren't font experts, they use fonts recommended by their web designers. Custom fonts may not be a financial problem for a big company, but in the company's bid specifications they may have given a tight timeline.

Plus I could imagine web designers thinking, "If we spend time and money on a new font and the company doesn't like it, then we get blamed. Safer to use an existing font."

riccard0's picture

Yet another reason could be the relative novelty of webfonts licenses and how to pass them along to clients.
(or, for the less honest ones, the fact that pirated webfonts are much more likely to be exposed as such than non web ones)

dberlow's picture

Well, if your corp id involves the use of Bodoni or Didot-like font substances, in print you can do what you like, but on the web... you are best off with graphic images or a font distant from your id.

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