Thursday, September 10, 2009

Futura vs. Verdana : The IKEA dilemma

IKEA released recently his new 2010 catalog. It's usually a no (big) news event even though it happens to be the 3rd biggest publication in the world, just after the Bible and Harry Potter.

But this year comes with a small change from the previous version : the type font has changed from the traditional Futura to Verdana. Did it increased sales ? To early to draw conclusions but the fact that it was a shock for the brand lovers who began to protest in forums and even launched a petition (5500 signatures up to date) on the web asking IKEA to get back with the Futura font.

As Edward Rothstein writes in the NYT, "they should have first taken everything out of the carton and made sure nothing was missing and that they weren’t mixing up" ! The reasons of the change said an IKEA spokesperson is the ability to use the font in all countries (including Asian ones) but also to be consistent and use the same in the print and the web.

Futura font was created by Paul renner in 1924, inspired by the Bauhaus movement, using basic geometric proportions and getting rid of any serifs or add ons, reflecting simplicity and effectiveness. It's also the first font to be present in the moon with this commemorative plaque

Verdana is a Microsoft font designed in 1996 especially to fit with websites.

We all remember the trauma Coca Cola provoked when they intended to change the Classic Coke formula or the protests after a packaging re-looking from Tropicana (a Pepsico brand). What's the problem with Verdana ? These reactions shows that the font is truly part of the brand appeal and covers insights and history for the customer. It created a lot of buzz on twitter.

- Mc Luhan was right : the medium is the message
- The print in spite of 50 years of tradition from IKEA, has to adapt to the web and not the contrary
- Design matters

PS: this blog is written on the Georgia font and I promise won't change...:-)

1 comment:

Nicolas Schriver said...

I really like this post, because it shows how important the Internet has become in a multichanel retailing approach. The Internet strategy leads the other ones.