Free Fonts Aren't Free


Many years ago, a woman explained to me why she only buys her clothes (shoes, accessories, etc.) from luxury brands. It’s not that it was a status symbol, nor was it all about quality, but more about her personal brand. She said, “I shop here, because I don’t want to see duplicates of myself out there.” It’s about exclusivity. The more expensive an item is, the less of a chance there is that you’ll run into someone who says, “Hey! I have that exact same (insert article of clothing/accessory here) at home.”

The same goes for fonts. Sure, you can use as many free fonts in your brand identity as your heart desires. However, keep in mind the millions and millions of people have access to those same free fonts, and have (or will) used those fonts for their logo, or their website (aka, their identity).


By Tré Seals

An identity is supposed to make you stand out, so consumers can IDENTIFY your brand in a crowded marketplace. And your font selection says a lot about who you are and what you represent. But when you use a free font, you’re no different from anyone else.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who do not see the value in purchasing a font, which is why I’m writing this article. However, if you pay for a font, your identity just might survive the test of time.


Paid Fonts

There are hundreds of thousands of fonts for you to purchase. Unless it’s on sale (most likely on, a font of quality should start at a minimum $30 per weight/style.

But what do I mean when I say quality? Let’s say you want to buy a font for your website. If you want your product/service to reach people throughout North America, South America, and Europe, then the font you choose has to include the necessary characters for your site to be translated into those languages.

A font of great quality ($45+ on average) will also include Greek and Cyrillic (i.e., Russia, Bulgaria, Serbian, Ukrainian, etc.) characters.

There are many more criteria for a font of excellent quality, but I won’t go into too much detail. In short, you’ll know it when you see it, and they can cost at least $60 per weight/style. Sometimes the level of quality can be seen in the level of detail and execution.

However, there is always an exception. The two most expensive fonts in the world are JHA Bodoni Ritalic and TEFF Lexicon for grand total of $5,000. Beyond the exception is Yeezy Display, a typeface designed with the hopes that Kanye West would purchase it for a mere $100,000.

Custom Fonts

Type design is a practice that has been around for centuries, and will always be around. To think that every single word you’ve read for your entire life, someone spent hundreds of hours toiling over, just so it could be legible and intriguing to you.

Custom fonts have become extremely popular in the last decade, with companies like Coca Cola, Google, and IBM commissioning their own set of fonts.

Depending on whether you want a single font, a font family, or a super font family, the price will easily surpass $10,000 (for a single font). But if you want to own your identity, and make sure that no one can take it from, this is the cost of individuality and exclusivity.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to reiterate why you should pay for fonts. Type designers spend hundreds of hours (sometimes years) developing a font family, and deserve to be compensated. It’s a craft that few can do, and fewer can master, and it should be respected as such.