How do organizations successfully manage their corporate identity when their brand guidelines incorporate non-standard fonts? In particular, external-facing materials that are not developed by the marketing department.

EXAMPLE Company XYZ decides to use Akzidenz-Grotesk as a key part of their visual identity. This is not a font that comes preinstalled with Windows. How do they manage collateral not produced by the marketing team? Examples include contracts, order forms, PowerPoint presentations.

Marketing can convert company logos to images, and drop them into Word or PowerPoint templates as a starting point, so that's consistent. What about the core content (i.e. body text, bullet points) that's developed by employees at a large?

I've identified two paths:

  1. Purchase a company license for the fonts. Have IT install it on every machine. Attempt to train employees on the use of appropriate fonts. Depending on the font, this could get pretty expensive. Getting non-technical employees to apply consistently will be difficult.
  2. Identify a fall-back font that comes preinstalled with the OS (e.g. Arial). Accept that bullet points in PowerPoint, text on forms, etc. are not going to match the logo, and thus not completely align with corporate identity.

I can see merits and drawbacks to each. Are there other options not occurring to me? Does anyone have experience with additional pros and cons of one versus the other? Thanks.


2 Answers 2


Ideally all collateral material is designed, formatted, and created by those that know design and would therefore have the brand fonts installed. Just because a piece is not "exciting" or visually important, such as a contract, it doesn't mean a designer should avoid it. A well designed, branded contract carries a solid message with it.

Forms which employees may need to complete digitally can be done via PDF forms so general users have no control over appearance or layout.

Often interoffice items aren't of any concern. It's only the external collateral that should be properly branded.

If a company allows any assistant or intern to create collateral materials they aren't that interested in maintaining overall branding. In those cases, a general substitution is commonly used - serf or sans serif.

  • You speak of the ideal. When it comes to (Powerpoint) Presentations suddenly there are a lot of designers in a company :) In my opinion control over this is the hardest! From small to very large businesses...
    – Rockbot
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:29
  • 3
    I agree, it is. For PowerPoint, there should be a "company theme" which is created by a designer and then distributed for use. In this case, the designer would choose the substitutions. And for PowerPoint, it's honestly just better to use standard MS fonts installed and branded imagery to overcome the shortcomings of PowerPoint. In an ideal world, standard workers would not be allowed to create any collateral material. They'd only be allowed to create content which the designer then uses.
    – Scott
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:30
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    I know that everybody and thier brother thinks they are a designer, but really design should be left to designers rather than salesmen, account managers, assistants, etc. This is what solid branding entails.
    – Scott
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:35
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    To add a point: CI should not only be the visual thing, it should also embrace a "philosophy" which is represented by the employees. (So that everybody knows WHY NOT to touch the design tools...)
    – Rockbot
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:40
  • Okay, I personally accept the idea of templates. This however is not entirely problem free. It took the design department 3 years to make usable powerpoint templates. Which happened Only because we did better ones ourselves and they copied ours. Still most users dont use the template correctly. And yes its internal communication of sorts, but since im a teacher all my internal memos are going out to target audience. Anyway its hard to find designers that can design powerpoint decks well. Yes thats because microsoft office is retarded. It should still work out.
    – joojaa
    Jan 24, 2015 at 0:07

The massive 150-page Design Guidelines I worked on used a variant of option 2. There was a section in the Guidelines about PowerPoint, which stated that branded, designed templates existed (with company logo, colors, and layout) and were to be used, but within those templates, standard system fonts (Arial and Times, probably) were used in place of the corporate fonts.

This was the simplest solution, and allowed the client to create as many decks as they liked and still more or less stay on brand.

  • Since you mentioned PowerPoint, can't custom fonts be embedded within a template?
    – JohnB
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:40
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    That's more trouble than it's worth im most cases @JohnB
    – Scott
    Jan 23, 2015 at 16:40
  • @JohnB I have no idea; I don't work in PowerPoint. And with very good reason. :) Jan 23, 2015 at 20:45

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