This isn’t a recent phenomena. Corporations have been creating their own typefaces since the beginning of type. But, lately, I’ve noticed more and more that they are using it in their marketing efforts or because the scale of these corporations make it cost prohibitive not to make their own typeface.
Let me pull these two things apart.
Corporations will often choose a typeface, or set of typefaces, to use in everything they do. Jujama, as an example, uses a variation of DIN in most of our work so far. This way materials made by them will all be unified and recognizable. However, in this age of enormous scale some typeface licenses make it nearly impossible to use one off-the-shelf.
For example, Netflix recently created their own font called Netflix Sans, saving them millions of dollars in licensing fees. Even if their design team spent 18 months making this typeface (which they likely did, or more) the savings would far outweigh the investment.
But then there is the less pragmatic reasons for creating your own typeface – such as Arby’s Saucy AF (which is an acronym I will not dissect here). It fits their brand, is fun, and likely doesn’t not impact the bottom line much.
Other recent examples I’ve seen include Airbnb’s Cereal (which, if you know the company history, is a fitting name), IBM’s Plex, and eBay’s Market Sans.
I seem to see at least one corporation per week updating their identities with all-new, custom-made, typefaces. I think it is great. And what fun to work on! I do not have the skills, yet, to make my own typeface but I can imagine a time where I give that a try.