The Font Feud

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It could be a scene from the movie “Helvetica.” People around the world are in an uproar at the Swedish furniture store Ikea, not for the quality of its workmanship, or the prices, but the new typeface used to display its four letter namein its catalogues.

The company is switching from the tried and true Futura to what is sees as a more effective typeface – Verdana. So what’s the big deal? And why the change in the first place?

Evidently Ikea wants to make its global image more consistent, and that means using a font that will work in all languages, and with asian characters. Verdana is also the typeface of choice on the web.

But for many Futura is a classic. And Ikea has been quite happy with it for the past 50 years.

While the typophiles are in a heated debate over the move, the bigger question is how (or whether) it will affect the store’s brand reputation. It’s hard to imagine that a store with such a recognizable image (four blockish yellow letters on a bold blue building) could take a hit from a slight change in font, but comparisons have already been made to the launch of New Coke back in 1985.