Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Evil Empire got IKEA's soul

Just a few weeks ago, SAAB was recovered from the hands of the amis. Just look at the "all new" 9-5 and how GM turned it into an abomination! It looks like a "pimped" impala. No wonder things were going really bad for GM (and SAAB). Now IKEA has slipped into the hands of the Evil Empire (I'm talking about Microsoft, although King Henry VI would say : "what a coincidence!").

IKEA changed the typeface of their catalogue and advertisements to Microsoft's Verdana from their long time trusted customized Futura font, which has been part of their strong branding for more than 50 years. This change has generated a global outcry... a lot more tweets for Verdana/IKEA than Ted Kenneddy! I don't think they researched the public's reaction, and this could become like the infamous "coca cola classic" story.

I may be wrong, but I remember that the whole issue with the Verdana and Arial typefonts was about copyright. Microsoft had to pay royalties if they wanted to include them in windows. So they asked for something similar for which they could have all proprietary rights. MS argues that their modified typefaces are more legible on computer screens... it may be true, but it's like comparing pepsi with coca-cola (with all due respect to all albañiles). Verdana would be even worse than a pepsi... probably like "home brand" or RC cola! Can you imagine what would happen to McDonald's if they suddenly decided to change to RC cola just to save a few bucks... they would probably go bankrupt in a week! The IKEA Catalog is the 3rd most printed publication in the world after the Bible and Harry Potter, so it is a similar problem with proprietary rights for IKEA, as it was for Microsoft.
“I think it’s safe to say we were surprised by the response,” says IKEA spokeswoman Monika Gocic. In order to avoid expensive licensing costs, in 2001 IKEA abandoned New Century Schoolbook and Futura (which had been in use since 1970) in favor of IKEA Sans, IKEA Serif and IKEA Script which they had had developed for their exclusive use. However, these fonts are not available across all marketing, advertising and information channels, so IKEA was left with inconsistent branding at best.

IKEA states 3 reasons Verdana is the solution:
I'm sorry Mrs. Gocic, but replacing something with a cheaper version, will give "cheaper looking" results most of the time. Just pay the extra bucks, and send copies of the necessary fonts along with the graphic identity manual to your advertising agencies around the globe. It's not like the company owned by the 3rd richest man on earth can't afford it... or does he?

Using the reverse rationale of Microsoft: if they substituded Furura/Helvetica with Verdana/Arial so they could look OK on the old CRT computer screens... it means they are not made for printed media! In fact, they look awful!

And for the love of God, get someone who actually speaks spanish to translate (and correctly accentuate) the spanish catalogue in the US! Or is it that IKEA can't afford that too?

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home