I was recently invited by global trend forecasting, consumer insight and brand innovation consultancy The Future Lab to talk and share information about contemporary typeface design. Quite a challenge!
The Future Lab is partnering with iconic font specialist Monotype to develop their strategy for 2015/16, and my expertise was called upon to help Futurelab gain insight into the state of the industry. The process was very interesting, and helped me to rethink and evaluate the nature of the whole industry and profession in general, as well as what I need to do to ensure the future success of OSNS.
A few thought provoking questions i was asked to reflect on are:
What major changes are you seeing in the typographic industry? What is driving these changesWhat are the main trends and innovations that you are noticing in the typographic industry currently?What is everyone in the design industry and typography getting excited about?What are the most innovative companies in the typography industry doing?
From the perspective of one of the World’s largest Typeface Libraries and leader in Typeface design for over 125 years answers to these questions hold the key to their very survival. How can they maintain market share, when companies such as Grilli and Colaphon produce such highly desirable fonts? Topics I touched on are the difficulties designers face when trying to purchase and trial new fonts. Usually we are in such a hurry, and don’t have the time or head space to read complicated legal documents related to licensing. And who is “everyone” ? is there such a thing as “everyone” any more? Different designers are getting excited about the expressive capabilities of customisation via hand lettering. As audiences crave authenticity, this one is important!
The key finding I have taken from this process is the word “disruption”. I think the future is all about being disruptive. Big complacent giants are struggling thanks to the speed and agile creative communities of practice facilititated by the introducton of web 2.0 around 2007 (ish). Have you noticed that since its inception, you have never been busier and more nervous? Web 2.0 has enabled facebook, twitter, pinterest, i phone and all its countless apps which keep us all so busy and hooked to technology.
We are all so busy! connecting and making stuff.. and reading less.. Just one great example of the disruption enabled by this technology is Uber Taxi service. Empowering drivers who really care to do a great job thanks to its rating system, and also empowering passengers. We took an Uber the other night and what a difference! Key take aways from the experience was customer involvement, and genuine care and service. The whole business depends on the drivers doing an excellent job !
You can expect more of this disruption in the future, as new tastes and knowledge emerge, new products and markets will develop super fast, and old ones have to die when they become obsolete ! Overtaken by new thinking ! New visions!
It’s very easy to be complacent. I can see many of our well trusted brands have become complacent, and they will fall. Those who connect personally with their end user, will remain relevant.