Buying correct font licences

When you’re pricing a branding job and you produce a style guide and just say for examples sake:

You’ve specified Helvectica for the copy - Font Family Page
And your logotype is written in Bodoni - Font Family Page

Do you purchase a licence for your client and supply them with the font and allow for that in your budget or do you point them to where they can purchase it for their requirements and just show it in your style guide?

Potentially you’d have to run the costs by the client for this.
Helvetica has about 500 different variations.
Bodoni probably has less.

Typically - the client needs to buy them - it’s them who will hold the license.
The license may or may not stipulate how many seats it can have, or if it’s transferrable for artwork/print etc. uses.

You’d need to run the costs by the client though - some fonts are extremely expensive.

Have they outlined a budget for fonts?

Are they going to be on a server?
Are they for Apps/Epubs/Websites/Publications or everything (font licenses)?
How many seats do they need?
What’s the budget?
Have you cheaper alternatives?

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None of the above - it’s all purely hypothetical and out of my own curiousity.

How does it typically work for you and your clients?

If it’s brand guidelines from scratch we have to build into the budget what the fonts cost.

The more seats you have the more expensive it potentially is.
Then figuring out if the fonts are transferrable for artwork/desgin/print purposes.
Can they be used in Apps/Websites etc. - do they need this. Is it cheaper without this for now and a possible add on later on with some type of commercial extended license for the font.

Think of it exactly like Software - that’s all fonts are - software.

You wouldn’t buy MS Word for a client to install on their computer.
They’d buy it themselves. And how many do they need.

It’s a pretty open ended question. Best thing to do I find is pick 5 or 6 fonts and do a mini-guideline with samples of each font in stationery and other marketing material.

Start with a small teaser guide - and then at the end of each presentation, you can include the price guide for purchasing such fonts.

Where it’s bought from - how many licenses they need.

You’re basically going to have to do some leg work for them.

If that’s what is agreed - all this takes time and patience to build up - and time is money. So they will be paying you for this work.

Or they can go take a look at some fonts themselves.

But you’ll need to guide them.

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I agree with everything Smurf2 said, so I won’t repeat it.

Unless they’ll be using Bodoni for more than their logotype, they wouldn’t need a license. You might need a license to the font to create the logotype, but you’d typically outline the type before handing over the logo. If for whatever reason, the type was live, they would, of course, need to buy a license to obtain the font file.


Thanks so much @Smurf2 and @Just-B - both answers, answer my question perfectly!

As a follow up, do you typically use fonts from Adobes Font library when deciding on what font to use for a given project and producing the brand guidelines?

Rented fonts from Adobe are great for one-off projects, but my experience with them hasn’t been perfect.

I’ve had a couple of times when one particular weight in a family deactivated and refused to be reactivated.

For longer-term branding projects, where font availability is required, nope, I wouldn’t use them. Clients might not have CC, and I wouldn’t trust the fonts to be there in a year or two.

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@pluto Adobe font library was purchased from TypeKit and then ported to the Adobe suite - it was originally a 3rd party add-on but Adobe has bought it and integrated it.
I gave the links below on using Adobe fonts and what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. And also how you could buy the perpetual licenses rather than activate them through Adobe Fonts. You might actually get a better license more suited to your needs by going directly to the foundries.

Rented fonts is a bit misleading - you have license to use them with the Creative Cloud subscription - you can purchase a perpetual desktop license from the foundries.

As with using any font they come with a set of rules you agree to the - the EULA

Can I keep using files I created with these fonts if I cancel Creative Cloud?

Yes and no. Any file which embeds the font data, such as PDF or image formats, and any text that has been rasterized or outlined, will continue to display correctly. These types of files may be reproduced and distributed independent of your subscription status.

Documents that reference fonts on your computer, such as an InDesign or Word document, will show a missing fonts warning and use a default font from the program in place of the one from Adobe Fonts. You would need to purchase a new font license and install the fonts on your computer to continue to display and edit these files.

Are these fonts available with a perpetual desktop license? What if I need a custom license?

Perpetual desktop licenses, as well as extended licensing, for Adobe-owned fonts are available from the following resellers:

MyFonts or
Type Network

You may contact one of our resellers if you require customizations or multi user licensing for Adobe Originals.

Perpetual desktop font licenses and custom font licenses for third party fonts can be purchased from the font foundry’s website or from the foundry’s authorized reseller.

As for fonts not staying active or trouble reactivating them Adobe do have support for that.

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Thanks so much for clearing all this up guys, was a bit stressed about the legal side of things :grimacing: and wanted to make sure I do the right thing and price for it accordingly!

It’s a bit surprising that they stop supporting some fonts - there’s a trap for young players!! I guess it makes sense that if you’re going to be doing a long term project to purchase them so as not to get caught out though!

I don’t know that they do, but I don’t know that they won’t either. Many of the fonts available through Adobe fonts belong to independent foundries, and I’m reasonably sure those foundries could remove their fonts. It’s also possible for a foundry to update a font to a new version where the metrics are slightly different, which could cause a reflow in a document.

I suppose what I’m saying is that for something as critical and long-lasting as a corporate brand, the client should own all the pieces of that brand package instead of relying on a third party and hoping that they don’t do something to cause problems. As Smurf2 mentioned, sometimes it’s better to own the license and physically possess the font.

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You can of course use Adobe Fonts to find pairings etc. - I gave all the links to the foundries that Adobe use/have and you can buy them directly from there.

Adobe fonts is just part of the CreativeCloud Package - allows you access to use them as you see fit (within their guides).

But I’d 100% price the fonts and send then links/pricing etc. to the client for them to purchase themselves. It’s 100% better that they own and control the font licenses.

It’s part and parcel of having a brand, having guidelines, and controlling your brand image.

You can even contact a foundry and ask them can you have exclusive rights to a font - you’ll pay handsomely for it. But pharma companies or car companies do this all the time. I think there’s a BMW font - it’s based on Helvetica I believe. But BMW bought a specific license and own the BMW Helvectica font - that’s unique to their brand and they can share that asset with who they like.

BBC commissioned their own font called Reith, named after the first Director.
Google, Youtube, Samsung, Nokia etc. all created their own fonts.

But these are extreme cases.

Others have bought fonts from foundries and have alterations done to the glyphs or unique glyphs they need - and the font gets the company name - but it’s based on another font.

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It’s not quite as extreme as it seems. Once or twice each year someone will contact me about designing a bespoke typeface for their company. More often than not, they’ll underestimate the cost by about 20 times, but every now and again, they’ll go for it.

They’ve typically been companies whose unique brand or product depends on unique typography. They’ve ranged from small hobby companies to publishers to big multi-nationals needing a typeface that includes glyphs from various alphabets where they do business.


In the past, I’ve had the client pay for the license and send them the link to do so.

I avoid using paid or Adobe CC typefaces and stick with opensource typefaces such as Google Fonts.

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From the Google

*Can I use these fonts commercially: to make a logo, for print media, for broadcast, ebooks, apps, or sewing machines and apparel?
You can use these fonts freely in your products & projects - print or digital, commercial or otherwise. This isn’t legal advice, please consider consulting a lawyer and see the full license for all details.

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