IKEA goes with Verdana

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Raumschiff's picture
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IKEA goes with Verdana
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It's true.

IKEA abandons ~50 years of Futura and Century Schoolbook for … Verdana.
In an interview with swedish design magazine CAP&DESIGN the reason for the change is to be able to use the same font i all countries, including asian countries. Also they want to be able to give the same visual impression both in print and the web.

For me it's a sad day.
What are your thoughts on this matter?

Sandro Dujmenovic's picture
Joined: 21 Mar 2007 - 3:20pm
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Stingy owner (Ingvar Kamprad), stingy solution :D.

_

Sandro

Raumschiff's picture
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Here are some images to show before and after:
From [[http://pleasecopyme.blogg.se/2009/august/nytt-ikea-typsnitts-val-forvana...|Please Copy Me]]

David Berlow's picture
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>For me it’s a sad day. What are your thoughts on this matter?

At least they are tracking it.

Cheers!

Raumschiff's picture
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Well, even if I'm no big fan of Verdana, I don't hate it. It's a well designed font for texts on monitors. But for a full out print catalogue, signs, print ads etc?

Raumschiff's picture
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ravel: He he! :D

Sandro Dujmenovic's picture
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Font for monitor use should stay on monitors, generally speaking. It has its purpose and this applying to whole wide spectrum of use for print is pretty disputable.
_

Sandro

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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I got the new catalog last night and I was quite surprised at the change. It didn’t occur to me that they were actually using Verdana, I thought it had to at least be a custom knockoff. Futura looked much better.

Paul Schalck's picture
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For those of you who read German, same discussion [[http://www.fontblog.de/ikea-katalog-2010-verdana-ersetzt-futura|here]].

J-Gray's picture
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I wonder if they are going to start selling furniture at Wal-Mart now too...

Simon Daniels's picture
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Verdana is the new Univers too ;-)

http://fontfeed.com/archives/typographic-relaunch-for-audi/

>I thought it had to at least be a custom knockoff.

It's the real thing. The agency working on the re-design checked in with us on this.

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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I really like Verdana...as a screen face...for body text.

No so much as a display face.

Nick Shinn's picture
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...they want to be able to give the same visual impression both in print and the web

At least they didn't pick Helvetica.
However, they are undermining the uniqueness of their brand, and given the emergence of "@fontface", this solution to print/media divergence may soon be obsolete.

Blank's picture
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No so much as a display face.

That’s what made me think it had to be custom work. I just couldn’t imagine a serious catalog design employing a screen text face for printed display work. I really think that this is a nasty case of a business being cheap. Ikea is one of the world’s largest and most successful corporations; the only reason the founder’s family are not among the world’s wealthiest billionaires is that Sweden’s progressive taxation encouraged them to transfer ownership to a charity. For Ikea commissioning a complete international Futura family with optical styles would still be a drop in the bucket. For a company that constantly touts it’s own staff designers to go this route is pretty pathetic.

Simon Daniels's picture
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It's natural for members of this forum to want to see companies employ type designers to make custom fonts, rather than the bundled stuff they get for free. I actually referred the agency on to Ascender with a suggestion that they work on custom styles. But can we be critical of a company wanting to save money, and pass on those savings to their customers? That seems like the IKEA way.

Blank's picture
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But can we be critical of a company wanting to save money, and pass on those savings to their customers?

There’s a difference between financial pragmatism and just being cheap. The value of the Ikea brand has got to be tremendous, and they’ve spent decades and billions of dollars getting there. Changing to Verdana has given Ikea’s catalogs a very different feel—Verdana at large sizes simply does not have the warmth and cheer of Futura, a reaction that seems important in selling furniture to young people with tight budgets. I would argue that making such a dramatic change to the visual identity of such a valuable brand has potential costs that are much higher than the cost of extending Futura to cover more languages. If Ikea has to do one big ad campaign in the US and Europe to reinforce the new identity they might spend more than they would have to extend Futura.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>Changing to Verdana has given Ikea’s catalogs a very different feel—Verdana at large sizes simply does not have the warmth and cheer of Futura, a reaction that seems important in selling furniture to young people with tight budgets.

I'd have hoped they would have done some kind of study on that. But if not I'll be interested to see if their downward sales spiral is ever associated with the font change, and they change back, or change up. A grand experiment, to be sure.

Bert Vanderveen's picture
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James: … the only reason the founder’s family are not among the world’s wealthiest billionaires is that Sweden’s progressive taxation encouraged them to transfer ownership to a charity.

The founder has moved to Switserland years ago, to one of these cantons where taxation is based on the value of your house and not on your income. Plus the brand has been put into a separate company that is also based in the land of chocolate and friendly bankers. The individual branches of IKEA have to pay for the use of the brand, which is just an inventive way to skim profits.

Mr IK has some other quirks: he was quite enamored by Hitler and Nazism, but that is not unique amongst Swedes. As a country Sweden profited immensely from trafficking in WW2 and trading natural resources and industrial products with the Nazi-regime.

And then there is the policy of this company that chokes suppliers for the lowest possible prices and everything that results from that: pseudo-slavery, exploitation of natural resources in ecologically weak environments, etcetera.

NOT a nice company. Too bad that they are giving Verdana a bad rep.
. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Blank's picture
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Thanks for the information, Bert.

Mike Diaz's picture
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Savings? So it’s Simons fault— LETS GET HIM!!!

;op

Kidding. But why didn’t they just extend the Ikea Sans further? They already own it. Instead go through another process to license and customize Verdana for the whole corporation?

Verdana is wrong on so many levels. UGH! Its less readable, prone to more clotting on the press or looking clotted and forget about elegance. Myriad, Avneir, even Lucida or Vera would look much better. And if your think about standard Windows fonts shouldn’t Tahoma been the main choice as Verdana is the extended version of Tahoma?

Sorry Nick, Helvetica would have looked great. Tho Akzidenz would have been better.

I’m highly disappointed with the new change. But hey, maybe they’ll release their old stuff.

Bert, I agree with some the of the criticisms lodged against IKEA, however Ingvar Kamprad has gone on the record saying that regret being involved with the Nazi movement and that he cut off all ties in 1950’s:
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/15415/swedish-goulash-and-sofas-whet...

I hate Nazism with a passion, but if Volkswagen made actually reliable cars I would buy one.

Mikey :-/

Mike Diaz's picture
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As another little point here:
Image if Volkswagen decided to switch out VW Futura for Verdana... that would put the VW brand in crapper wouldn’t it?
Somethings need to remain the same if you’re not going to make them better.

Mike :-)

Simon Daniels's picture
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>Image if Volkswagen decided to switch out VW Futura for Verdana

I think I made that point earlier. Here's the new Audi logo VW just rolled out...

http://wot.motortrend.com/6546262/marketing/audi-unveils-updated-logo-fo...

And the earlier link to the branding font...

http://fontfeed.com/archives/typographic-relaunch-for-audi/

Chris Lozos's picture
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If really being cheap was there intention, why change at all? Surely, the cheapest way was to do nothing different and never hire the rebranding firm.
I really like Verdana for what it was meant for. It needs so much handwork to be used as a print display face that it is counterproductive. They would have been better off to have hired Matthew to make a corporate version for them that looks respectable as a corporate display face.

ChrisL

Bert Vanderveen's picture
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Could be that they are phasing out the print catalogue (this year surpassing the Bible in print run…) and aim for a web presence only. Makes sense in a way: more trees for Billy’s, less for paper …

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Craig Eliason's picture
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Changing to Verdana has given Ikea’s catalogs a very different feel—Verdana at large sizes simply does not have the warmth and cheer of Futura, a reaction that seems important in selling furniture to young people with tight budgets.

On the other hand, the web-immersed among those young people might feel subliminally quite at home in a store filled with Verdana.

Blank's picture
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On the other hand, the web-immersed among those young people might feel subliminally quite at home in a store filled with Verdana.

Interesting!

Jan Schmoeger's picture
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Yes, Craig. Spot on.

Patrick Carter's picture
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Seeing Verdana in print makes me cringe for some reason. This seems to be a poor descision at a glance.

Colin M. Ford's picture
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I had thought someone had lost the font, honestly! Like they sent the catalog to the printer and didn't package the font... Until I went inside my local IKEA and saw Verdana on displays, pamphlets... I wonder if it will be replacing the Futura on the famous IKEA instruction manuals...

And for what it's worth, IKEA was using its own Futura, discussed in this thread www.typophile.com/node/18852

Dan Hall's picture
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I tend to think that the reasoning that Verdana doesn't look good in print is far more subjective rather than objective. I think that as it is used more in print it will grow on designers. Is this a classic case of referring to a font as "grotesque"?

Simon Daniels's picture
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>far more subjective rather than objective

That comes back to my suggestion that maybe IKEA (or the agency) did some kind of research (focus groups etc.,) that did not involve a disproportionate number of graphic designers, web engineers and type designers.

I'm far too close to the font to judge how well it works.

Chris Lozos's picture
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I am not saying it can't work but you need a lot of tracking and kerning to make it respectable as a display face. Is all that labor worth it?

ChrisL

Jean F Porchez's picture
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Ikea don't used a customised Futura and Century before this switch? I have heard this somewhere, 2-3 years ago? Not sure.

David Berlow's picture
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What's tracking and kerning again?

Cheers!

Bruno Bruno's picture
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I think the reason is sad.

Blank's picture
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I tend to think that the reasoning that Verdana doesn’t look good in print is far more subjective rather than objective.

I think that it works just fine in print at text sizes. At larger sizes some of the features that make it work well small start to look really horsey, such as the terminals of C, G, J, Q, and S. When it gets blown up and used vertically that kind of stuff just looks weird.

Nick Shinn's picture
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I tend to think that the reasoning that Verdana doesn’t look good in print is far more subjective rather than objective.

Rubbish.
It's a screen font, not graceful at display size, and lacking in subtlety.
It's like using an agate font for headlines.

Chris Lozos's picture
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"What’s tracking and kerning again?"

The laborious act of retrofitting a typeface to do a job for which it was not intended--or maybe a typographic trainwreck :-)

ChrisL

nerdski's picture
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I got it the other day and was a bit confused. I used to love their catalogs, now not so much. Page 192 is my favorite...

Mili Carr's picture
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Page 192… fantastic – in my copy it has white text on yellow, pretty hard to read.
I miss their Futura.

I have a client who insists on using Verdana for everything (their logo is based on it, too). I'm not enjoying it in small newspaper print ads.

Alessandro Pascoli's picture
Joined: 25 Aug 2009 - 2:06am
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Ikea wants same visual impression in print/web so why not Verdana on screen and Frutiger in print? Carter designed Verdana clearly inspired by Frutiger face, but Frutiger has not wide character as Verdana...

Mike Diaz's picture
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...Carter designed Verdana clearly inspired by Frutiger...

Really ’cause I see it as a competitive design with Lucida.

Turiddu's picture
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It's sad of course, particularly for me, as I have been using Century Schoolbook for many years now in all possible ways -- sadly my blog at Typepad doesn't support it.

Though coming to think of it, it makes my other publications less Ikea-like without having to change anything...

Dan Hall's picture
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"Rubbish. It’s a screen font, not graceful at display size, and lacking in subtlety."

It's lacking iron and fiber too.

I know where you haters are coming from. I still cringe at the thought that people used Chicago as a display face before more fonts became available for the masses to abuse. I'm loving this use of Verdana though. Who knew that using such a plain looking typeface as Verdana could be so subversive? You grandpas have me feeling like I can shave twenty years off my age just by using Verdana for a tradeshow header.

Sandro Dujmenovic's picture
Joined: 21 Mar 2007 - 3:20pm
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Why do you think this is subversive? It is subversive for people who understand typography, and who will discuss it; end-user, customer will hardly even notice. For most of end-users it is just letters.

_

Sandro

Chris Lozos's picture
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"For most of end-users it is just letters."

Then why change from the original or why not everything in the world in Arial?

ChrisL

David Holman's picture
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in my opinion, Verdana at this size is visually disruptive.

to reiterate what Nick said above, this seems like a 10-years-old solution to the problem of fonts on the web. not only does @fontface look promising but, I'd argue that the public at large is well adjusted to seeing a unique face in web text.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>Really ’cause I see it as a competitive design with Lucida.

I think you're one generation off. Although Lucida existed (and was bundled with various Microsoft products) well before Verdana was created, I don't think anyone was using it as a UI font. Verdana was conceived as a UI font, and with bitmaps created first (before having the outlines wrapper around them and then hinted to produce the desired bitmap patterns) it owes more to say Chicago, than Lucida. In fact at ATypI I showed some of the preliminary Verdana bitmaps which were very Chicago-like.

For those getting hung up on the “it’s a web font” complaint, I really think you should get out more. There’s a whole world beyond the computer screen! Do you complain when you see Frutiger used in print “That’s an airport signage font!” or Gotham used on a sign, “that’s a magazine font!”? ;-)

John Butler's picture
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Although Lucida existed (and was bundled with various Microsoft products) well before Verdana was created, I don’t think anyone was using it as a UI font.

Si, I'm almost certain that Lucida Sans was the default UI font in Slo-aris' X11 window manager. Back in their pink and purple days before Larry Ellison showed up and turned them orange. Or Tan In A Can, if you will.

One of the first things I do when I get a Windows box is turn off the candy theme, switch to the Windows 2000 theme and make all the UI widget fonts a small version of Lucida Sans. Very efficient and pleasant.

darrel's picture
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@James:

Just as an aside, the founder of Ikea is the 5th richest person in the world. I don't think Sweden's tax system has hurt him much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingvar_Kamprad

But yes, you'd think one of the biggest and most successful companies on the planet could afford a better typeface. ;)

isokon's picture
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I wonder what Carter thinks about this...