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IKEA – From Futura to Verdana

ikea-signage

IKEA had been using IKEA Sans, which is a customised version of the Futura font, for 50 years. In late August, it was announced that the Futura font has been replaced by *gulps* – the Verdana typeface. There’s even an online petition to stop IKEA from using Verdana, which i feel will eventually proved to be fruitless, just look at the numbers. To be honest, I am not a big fan of Verdana either even though I used it for most of my body text for websites. I personally think they look best when they are in size 10/11px. Anything bigger, they look horrible and yes, definitely not on print.

ikea-typefaces

Majority of those who signed the petition are probably typeface/graphic designers or even web designers (like me). But to the rest of the world (most importantly, the regular IKEA shoppers), do they really care about this new typeface as long as the prices of furniture remains low and affordable? Probably no.

As I was reading this post regarding the new IKEA typeface on Brand New, I spotted one of the comments, apparently a staff from IKEA.

Today IKEA can not use existing fonts through all channels. This new font allows us to continue to be efficient in our operation to a lower cost. The change strategy will be to change fonts following normal change cycles, to avoid any extra cost. Verdana is a standard font, functional, free of charge to be used through whole IKEA.

Why change?

Since end 1970 IKEA has used two fonts primarily; New Century Schoolbook and Futura. To use these fonts, IKEA always paid licence fees, as they are not free of cost.

In 2001 IKEA decided to develop unique IKEA typefaces to avoid these license fees, to have a continuous development of a unique visual identity and not to have the majority of co-workers to consider what typeface to use. The specially designed and unique IKEA fonts are mandatory to use and are owned by Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

Today the IKEA typefaces (IKEA sans, IKEA serif and IKEA script) can not be used through all channels. This means we can not use same fonts throughout all channels and media, present and future.

The solution – One font for the whole IKEA

As a low cost retailer IKEA needs a long term strategy for what font to use that is sustainable and consistent, and cost efficient to meet the today’s market and the coming 10-20 years. The solution is therefore to have one standard font, Verdana as the only font for IKEA. The value for IKEA to use this font is to integrate existing and new media channels where we can secure the output being consistent and make all co-workers focus on the important thing, the content.

It is a functional solution – readability in all media. It is a simple solution – one font in all media, in all languages (Today IKEA has 18 languages, 13 new ones in pipeline and another 8 in plan). It is a cost conscious solution – one standard font, free of charge. The mandatory fonts for IKEA will be changed into IKEA Verdana and replace IKEA sans, IKEA serif and IKEA script.

Ugly? You decide.

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This entry was posted on September 20, 2009 by in Design and tagged , , .
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