[Posted by Ron Rogowski]
At the end of last week I read an interesting article about Ikea’s decision to change its catalog typeface from its version of Futura to Verdana in order to be consistent across geographies (and to save some cash). Among the design community, the change has led to a backlash culminating in an online petition to change the font back. I doubt that Ikea will change its font back though I could be wrong. After all, the power of the consumer has always been strong, even without all of the social tools we have today (see the last paragraph of the Time article that references New Coke).
Still, while changing the font may upset some of the brand’s biggest fans in the short run, it’s not necessarily a customer experience killer in the long run.
In response to the online unrest over the change, a spokesperson for Ikea points out that it’s mostly the hard-core design community that’s up in arms over the change, and that most mainstream consumers won’t notice the difference. Indeed, I think that’s correct – most people won’t notice at all, especially because the change is not as radical as, say, switching from a san serif to a serif font. Here are some before and after images that show the difference. (Keep in mind that most users won’t be doing side-by-side comparisons.)
Ikea 2009 Catalog