Choosing your foundry name is the first step to building a strong brand and seeing success selling fonts. Your foundry name will help shoppers immediately recognize your products and will become associated with the style, quality, and category of fonts you sell. Your unique point of view as type designer and entrepreneur should shine through in everything about your foundry, especially your name!
So, what is a “foundry” anyway?
“Foundry” is the term used for a business that makes and sells fonts. This is because long ago fonts used to be made in metal for use on printing presses in a metal foundry. You can think of a foundry like your shop or brand. This is the brand under which all your fonts are published.
Brainstorming your foundry name.
When coming up with a name for your foundry, there are a few exercises that can help you pick a great name:
- Shift your worldview.
Font making is often a very solitary process, and you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what you want as you’ve been creating your fonts. Take a moment to put aside your personal preferences, preconceptions, and biases. Don’t think about other foundries and how you compare with them. Imagine instead that you are the customer, and start to think about yourself as a business rather than a designer or artist.
- List out descriptive words you want customers to associate with your fonts.
Get creative and write a list of words that evoke feelings that would make sense to a customer who is looking at your fonts. Think about things that you really like and have influenced your craft. (These words can also be used as tags for your fonts later, so this isn’t a wasted exercise!). List out abstract concepts (trendy, edgy, high-end, accessible, wedding, crafted, tropical, etc), and words specific to things you love or influence you (doughnuts, mid-century modern, Eames, Chanel, Paris, ferns, waves, seaside, coffee). Choose expressive words that reflect your style. If your fonts are whimsical and cute, use words that have that feeling. If your fonts are serious and modern, brainstorm words that reflect that sentiment. Once you have a big list, start narrowing it down to the ones that stand out to you.
- Think about your brand as a whole.
Now that you have a list of words, you have a great place to start. Now, create another list with a draft of the other aspects of your brand. What colors will you use to market your foundry? What kinds of fonts will you sell? What can customers expect in your character set and OpenType features? Don’t worry, these things can change later, but it’s good to have an idea going forward in your mind of what your shop and foundry will look like as a whole.
There are a few handy formulas you can follow to create a foundry name:
Option 1: Expressive word + Descriptive word.
Combine an expressive word plus a descriptive word that lets the customer know what kind of business you are. The expressive word can relate to the emotion or feeling you want for your brand, or the kinds of products you sell. A few examples: Latinotype, Sunshine Studio, Comicraft, Set Sail Studios, Luxfont, Deartype, Positype, or Good Java Studio. If you only sell fonts, you can use descriptive words like “Type” or “Foundry” or “Fonts” as the second word. If you are a more broad design studio and may sell other kinds of products elsewhere, use “Studio” or “Shop” or “Designs” or “Co.” or something else more generic as the second word. Caution! With this strategy you must ensure that your first word is unique enough to be recognizable without pigeonholing you into a category. For example, the foundry name “Wedding Fonts” would not be accepted: a) it’s not unique - “Wedding” is a font style not an actual brand name and b) it would pigeonhole you into only releasing wedding-style fonts in that foundry brand.
Option 2: Your Name.
When in doubt, simply sell your fonts under your name. Many very successful foundries use this strategy, like Mark Simonson, Laura Worthington, Mans Greback, Rene Bieder, and more. This is great as it is flexible and will allow your brand to shift over time if you decide to change things like the style of fonts you sell, the branding of your foundry, the market you’re going after. Know that this can present challenges as it is related specifically to YOU - your name and reputation is on the line, and you become your brand. If you use this strategy, you should be VERY good at type design, and have or aim to build an international reputation for creating good products.
Option 3: Abstract word or words.
Make up an abstract word or combine words to create a unique brand name. Some great examples include Fontador, Resistenza, Tegaki, The Northern Block Ltd, Sudtipos, Haksen, Sinfa, Hanoded, Fontop and more. While we don’t know what these names mean, they’re easy to pronounce, recognizable, and memorable. An interesting word or phrase that is meaningful to you can add depth and be interesting to customers who find your foundry. Make sure you write about it in your foundry description! One of the main advantages of a name like this is that it should be totally unique to your business, making it easier for customers to find you online.
Test your foundry name.
Once you have a few good options, test out the names to see if they hold up across the internet.
- Make sure it’s not trademarked or too similar to another foundry’s name.
You can search the database of trademarked names on the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the US and on TMView in the European Union and beyond. Consider consulting an attorney if you need advice. We’ll reject foundries who have names that are too similar to existing foundries names or that violate a trademark. In addition to complying with the law, you want to avoid any potential confusion for future customers who may be searching for your fonts and find someone else’s!
- Google the name.
What results show when you Google the name? Look for anything that would confuse a customer or that you wouldn’t want to be associated with. What does the word translate to in other languages? Make sure to avoid any words that may have embarrassing meanings in other languages.
- Check to see if the name is available on other platforms.
Is the social media handle available on Twitter and Instagram? You’re going to need it, as using social media to grow your business is necessary today. Is the URL available? Check a site like godaddy.com to see if you can purchase the domain name. If it’s available, go ahead and secure the domain and handles, even if you don’t plan on creating a site or having an active social media strategy right away.
- Talk to your friends.
Get feedback on your foundry name from family and friends. Tell them your potential names and see what they associate with them. They may think of things that you haven’t! Ask them what kind of brand they think a business with this name would have or what it would sell. If you can, talk to people of different backgrounds, genders, ages, and locations. Diverse points of view are valuable and will help you to become better.
- Say the name out loud.
Your foundry name should be easy to remember, write down, and say out loud. This means you should avoid combining words and numbers in all lowercase that would make a name very hard to read and understand. In general, try to avoid gibberish, username-style names (i.e. first initial, last name, numbers - Jsmith98), and anything else that could look like spam. Don’t use numbers instead of letters (like B3tt3r Type, L8r Studio, or Co0l F0nts) or anything else that could be hard for a customer to write down if they heard the name spoken out loud. The customer doesn’t have to understand what the name means, but it should be recognizable as a word to someone in any language. If you are concerned about readability, try putting spaces in the name to separate the words to make them easier to read, especially if you’re combining words that have the same letters next to each other (for example, “gekoonedesigns” -> “Geko One Designs”.)
Things to avoid
The items below are common errors in foundry names we receive. Check them out so you don’t make the same mistake!
Do not use “Std” to mean “Studio”.
We have observed some foundries using the abbreviation “Std” to represent “Studio”. Historically in the type industry, “Std” means “Standard” and is a common term for categorizing fonts based on language coverage or character set. Outside of the font world, STD stands for “Sexually Transmitted Disease” so in general we do not recommend using it at all.
Avoid periods, dashes, or other symbols.
In general, we reject foundry names that contain dashes, periods, or other unusual symbols. Your foundry name should be simple, clean, and easy for a customer to type out. We will accept Foundry names that use “&” for “and” and other special situations where special symbols make sense.
Don’t use ALL CAPS.
In general, typing in all caps makes it look like you’re screaming. Avoid making your foundry name in all caps unless there is a specific reason to do so, for example, if your foundry name is an acronym.