Archive for February, 2010

by Allan Haley

Type is one of the most important aspects of any branding solution. Type can easily differentiate an entity. It can unify diverse documents and products. It can also build powerful brand recognition. These are the issues that faced the creative team responsible for the branding of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The team was, however, aware of the three general guidelines for choosing a typeface to help create a brand identity.

  1. If you can afford it, have a custom font created that is explicitly for your brand. If you can’t afford a custom design, choose a typeface that is both distinctive and versatile. The key is to pick something that walks the fine line between a bland design that is versatile and a distinctive design that will not be appropriate for a multitude of uses.
  2. Chose a type family with several styles. Roman, italic and bold versions of a family are almost never enough for a large branding system. Perhaps not immediately, but sooner or later the client is going to run into instances where condensed, very bold, or even other styles may be required.
  3. Use typefaces that have legs. There are more than 200,000 fonts in the world to choose from. Many have a short life – and then become about as fashionable as tie-dyed t-shirts. Brands are supposed to last a long time. Pick a typeface that will not look out of date in a short time.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee took all three of the guidelines to heart when they chose the Neo® Sans typeface design as part of the branding for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ali Gardiner, vice president of brand and creative services for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, sums it up perfectly. “We selected Neo Sans,” she recalls, “because it felt contemporary and would represent Canada as a modern, progressive country, but it also feels like it will ‘age well’…which is important for Olympic design because it’s seen for decades and even centuries after the Games themselves. Neo Sans also has many weights, which made it practical across the tens of thousands of uses for which it would be required.”

To add a little more distinction to the use of the design, the Vancouver team requested that a special custom font be developed by Monotype Imaging. According to Gardiner, “We thought that a unicase font (one that had several lowercase characters designed to the height and proportions of the capitals) could be used for display text in a way that felt both warm and friendly as well as contemporary and cool, which was how we wanted to represent Canada to the world. It also had the potential to become a unique, recognizable typeface for Vancouver 2010, which was important as we established our own look and feel and brand identity leading up to the Games.”

Sebastian Lester, the designer of Neo Sans and the custom unicase font, is delighted that his design was chosen for the Winter Games. “I’ve always sought to design appealing, useful and versatile typefaces,” he says. “The face that the design was chosen for the Winter Games confirms that I met my goal with Neo Sans.”

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

From retro showcard display designs, to modern reworkings of classic typefaces, to virtual clones of antique fonts, there are more typeface revivals available to graphic designers today than ever before. Maybe Fred Goudy was right, “The old guys stole all our good ideas.”

Although Goudy had nothing to do with this project, ITC just released an upgraded and enlarged version of the ITC Stone® Sans typeface family. The original plan was to add some condensed designs to the existing family, and call it a day. Once Sumner Stone, the designer of the original ITC Stone Sans and the new revival, got into the project, however, he realized that more extensive design improvement were called for. The end result is a completely new addition to the ITC Stone super family, consisting of 24 typefaces in the OpenType™ font format.

A little over two years ago, ITC also released an enlarged and improved version of the ITC Franklin Gothic™ typeface family. Called simply ITC Franklin™, the new design, created by David Berlow, has 48 designs and is also available as OpenType fonts. The new designs range from the very willowy Thin to the robust Ultra – with Light, Medium Bold and Black weights in between. Each weight is also available in Narrow, Condensed and Compressed variants, and each design has a complementary Italic.

Prior to these two designs, ITC had not released upgraded or improved versions of typefaces in its library. It has, from time to time, added new weights and proportions to existing families but never reworked the basic designs from scratch.

My question to you is: would you like to see more ITC typeface re-released to higher standards of design excellence – and would you like to seen existing ITC typeface families enlarged to contain a broader range of weights and proportions?

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

E-books are the hot new electronic device. For those unfamiliar with the frenzy of these new electronic marvels, an E-book, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a personal computer or hand-held device designed specifically for this purpose.” An E-reader is a lightweight device specifically developed for downloading and displaying these materials page by page. Amazon’s Kindle™ E-reader was the first on the market, Barnes and Noble followed with the Nook™, and there are now over thirty more in one stage or another of development.

These devices, however, are not books. They are readers. Books have pages that turn, they have a heft and a smell, you can dog-ear their pages, you can press flowers in them – and they are put on a shelf when you are done with them for the time being. E-readers will not replace books – at least not all books.

First, because E-readers, at about $200, are relatively expensive – and you still have to purchase books for them. Eventually, the price will come down, but there will still be many people that cannot afford the devices and would like to continue purchase their books from a bookstore or borrow them from a library.

Next, there are some books that cannot be replaced – at least with current E-reader technology. Children’s books that you read to your nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, and grandchildren when they snuggle up next to you on a sofa, come to mind. Art books will continue to be published in traditional form. E-readers will probably not replace books on graphic design – and certainly not books on typography. (He wrote with tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

E-readers, however can be a strong competition to books for entertainment. You may eagerly anticipate Dan Brown’s next novel. You may thoroughly enjoy reading it. But, when you are done, what do you do with it? Put it on a shelf where it will sit until you decide to throw it out. Unless it’s a signed first edition, Dan Brown’s new novel will have little value once it is read. That’s where e-readers come in. When you are done with an E-book, you can simply delete it from the E-reader and it will be stored in the cloud for you for future use.

You can also put over 1,000 E-books – or many very big E-books – on a single E-reader. Required reading for scholars, educators, students and professionals in the technical trades is today satisfied by many – heavy – books. E-readers can be a godsend to these folks. One E-reader has to be better than carrying 30-pounds of traditional books in a backpack.

To become more mainstream, however, E-readers will also need to improve their typographic presentation. One or two fonts are simply not enough. Kerning, line spacing, paragraphing, column alignment, and all those other typographic details we sweat over as designers, and appreciate as readers, will have to be addressed in a much better fashion. Technology has done a pretty good job of putting words and letters on digital substrata. It will, however, take the knowledge, skill and, yes, the passion that we put into traditional graphic communication, for E-readers to make much of a dent in real book sales.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

Great type makes sites stand out