Is LL Brown worth the hefty price tag? / Alternatives?

LooselyKerned's picture

Looking for font suggestions/general insight.

I'm currently working on the website & art direction of a soon-to-be-launched women's online fashion shop. The feel of it is supposed to be "up scale" and kind of exclusive (not cute or kitschy at all). I have been trying out logo sketches and other things with Lineto's "Brown" typeface and LOVING the way it looks and how it communicates the brand.


The only problem is the price being nearly $200 for one single weight, which the sole starter of this business is not crazy about. She does very much like the font as well, but is suggesting I try and find a free alternative. I've been looking far and wide and I simply don't think anything free can hold a candle to Brown's strong, geometric form.

So my questions concerning this are:
- Does anyone know of any free (or at least cheap) alternatives to Brown that I simply haven't stumbled upon yet?
- Is buying Brown a good investment for the company and should I try to convince her of how important it is?

- And additionally, I'm looking for some basic insight into if anyone has experience using Lineto's typefaces as webfonts, and knows which format(s) would be the best to buy and how I would go about hosting them.

hrant's picture

I'm personally not a fan of Lineto in general and this now-trendy style in particular, but if you think it's just right do invest the money instead of saving a few bucks on something that's not as right.


sevag's picture

have you seen Campron or Radikal?

LooselyKerned's picture

I saw Campton right after making this and I was thinking that may be the best alternative. Although I'm now being swayed a bit by the pointed capital letters in Radikal (and that cool "k"), the only thing that bothers me slightly is the way the lowercase letters are more oval-y rather than perfectly circular, but in general Radikal looks like it has a lot more flavour to it.

Any suggestions on decent pairings with Campton or Radikal? I was hoping to go with a Mac-available font like Adobe Garamond for body text but I'm not so sure it fits.

Fatype's picture

If you go for a cheap alternative, what you will get is a cheap alternative. It will not look "up scale".
Brown is a stronger design than the alternatives proposed here.
But my guess would be, if your client is asking you to look for a free alternative, his concern is not about quality. I would respond to such a client "should I look for free alternatives of your fashion?".
I can understand a client not wanting to spend 200$ on a font to set a poster, but for the brand, this seems like a cheap price to get it right.

Jean Louis's picture

This font looks cute and trendy, somewhat like Gotham, not exclusive. Tom Ford makes Gotham look ok, but then he's Tom Ford.

Saint Laurent uses plain Helvetica. LV logo is close to Futura. It's all about the "right" proportions, thickness, kerning, etc

LooselyKerned's picture

I agree that Brown is still much stronger than Campton but I think for now I'm going to go with it. I'll be using it pretty sparsely on the site so it doesn't draw attention to some of the weirder glyphs (the C is a real bother to me) and I've edited it a bit in the logo so it looks more like Brown. I think once the business starts making money then maybe I can suggest purchasing Brown for use on posters, and lookbooks etc.

If I'm willing to do a little bit of editing here and there though, I can bring back some of the "Brown" feel to Campton:

(obviously this isn't feasible for web, but if I'm feeling like being a bit tedious for display copy in print I could do this)

riccard0's picture

I think there are several not pricey alternatives which require less editing:

tmac's picture

Here are a couple of other options:

FF Mark (fontshop)
Post Grotesque (Village)
Sharp Sans (Village)

LooselyKerned's picture

The lowercase "a" being the way it is is really important to me & that it be a perfectly circular design. FF Mark, Sharp Sans and Nexa come pretty close but I don't think they are as exactly circular as I'd like and in terms of the logo at the very least Campton still looks better.

hrant's picture

You will need to make your modified "C" wider (harder than it might seem to do well).


LooselyKerned's picture

Would there be any way of modifying the actual font file for desktop use? Or would that be breaking contract...

hrant's picture

Open up the EULA, do Find-s on "modif", and read...

That said, I'm one of a rare breed of type designer that believes a no-mod clause should be freely violated, as long as the results are not redistributed (intentionally or not).


dberlow's picture

Hooo. Rare, nay — perhaps a singular combination of huge opinion, and little IP.

Also, BTW, IYDM, as long as you are recommending font piracy, would you possibly have a legally reviewed EULA that demonstrates the exact language for use of an undistributable mod version? And, also, if you don't mind, a list of some of your fonts licensed this way for (un((re)distribution)))?

hrant's picture

So you're saying it's common –even these days– for a type designer to recommend violating a font EULA's no-mod clause?

Non-Gollum EULAs can be found in large (Adobe), medium (Shinn Type) and small (Monokrom) places.

BTW, lawyers? Knock on wood, I've lived in the West since '86 and have thankfully managed to avoid paying one.

And piracy? You mean revivals?


Nick Shinn's picture

Just out: my Neology®. Here is the Deco version.

hrant's picture

I enjoyed the Neology specimen in the TypeCon goodie bag; its raison-d'être is fascinating.


riccard0's picture

Nick, for those of us who weren’t at TypeCon, do you plan to release a writeup a bit more extensive than the two lines on MyFonts?

5star's picture

Amusing stuff Nick, well done!

riccard0's picture

Ah, thanks Hrant, interesting read.
(by the way, isn’t there a FontFont typeface with similar alternate styles, minus the automatic randomisation?)

grahamcoupe's picture

Have you thought about using the Gill Sans ? After all LL Brown is based on it.

Martin Silvertant's picture

I would respond to such a client "should I look for free alternatives of your fashion?".

That's a beautiful question. I will have to remember that next time I'm being asked to compromise quality because of a limited budget. Why do people expect quality design but not have the budget for it, anyway?

Martin Silvertant's picture

And very nice typeface, Nick. It would be fun to set text in the mix and see how long it takes before anyone will notice that it's in fact a mix of two styles.

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