“Mobile First” is an indispensable approach for designing digital experiences. The idea is to first consider the restrictions and expectations of the handheld browser, and thereby identify and distill our very best ideas. For designers working on broader identity systems, I propose a parallel rallying cry: matchbox first.
A matchbox might be a charming memento of an evening well spent; a matchbook an ersatz way to share a phone number or jot down an idea. But materially, these tiny pieces of cardboard are usually the most reduced manifestations of an organizations’s visual identity. Only the best parts of a resturant’s front window, its menu, or even its business card will make it to the matchbox, so it’s here that both design and designers must be at their best. When it comes to working with limited resources (both space and budget), it’s often typography that comes to the rescue, and sometimes typography is the only ingredient. One de-prioritizes the mission statement and thought leadership/heritage backstory right off the box, and discovers the freedom to also leave them off the website, the billboard advertising, and the rest of the business. If the matchbox doesn’t need them, nobody does.
Today at Discover.typography, thirty-nine small-scale identities reduced to their very essence. We love the way these tiny tableaux rely on the smallest type to do the heaviest lifting, and the joy of seeing how the right fonts can communicate all the essentials at a single glance. —JH
Every organization should brand its custom collateral: the proposals, statements, presentations and reports through which it communicates the most. Office Fonts from H&Co can help: they’re specially designed for users of Microsoft® Word, Excel®, Powerpoint®, Pages®, Numbers®, and Keynote®, the business software that runs typography’s last mile.
You know this company: their logo’s in Gotham, their website’s in Gotham, there’s Gotham in their outdoor advertising and their television spots. There’s Gotham in the window of every branch, and inside, Gotham on the in-store displays and the printed brochures. And then the estimate you’re given from their sales associate will be in Arial, your sign-up contract in Times Roman, and your next two years of monthly statements in something someone picked at the lettershop. Typography can be the least expensive and most effective way of reinforcing a brand, or the quickest way to dilute it.
Meet Office Fonts.
Office Fonts from H&Co allow everyone who speaks for the brand to use the same consistent voice. They’re adaptations of some of our most popular typefaces, specifically created for use in the applications that generate personalized communications. They allow an organization’s branding to extend beyond the projects that designers themselves create, to include the reports, proposals, statements, and presentations prepared by non-designers — often the bulk of how any organization communicates.
How They Work
People use the fonts that are easiest: the ones that live in their font menus, work in their software, look good on screen, and behave in familiar ways. H&Co’s Office Fonts are designed for people who use word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation packages, allowing them to participate in the brand typography.
All Office Fonts from H&Co feature:
— Familiar Families. No one looking for “regular type” should have to choose between Book and Medium. In place of the more detailed palette of styles that can be confusing for both businesspeople and their software, H&Co’s Office Fonts are provided in the customary four-style arrangement of Regular, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic. Bold and Italic styles are mapped to the standard keyboard shortcuts B and I, to avoid the artificially “smeared” and “sloped” romans for which office documents are notorious.
— Enhanced Clarity. H&Co’s Office Fonts have a larger lowercase, a more generous fit, and clearer gestures, making them easier to read both on screen and in print (compare the A columns, above.) They have a heightened contrast between regular and bold styles, to make boldface type unambiguous (A1), and are engineered with ScreenSmart™ technology to render crisp and clear text on Windows.
— Friendly Features. Only a designer should have to contend with old-style figures, lining figures, or tabular figures. Office Fonts from H&Co include one and only one set of numbers, built on a fixed width to ensure that columns of numbers align neatly (B). Numbers are designed to the same width across all styles in a family, ensuring that highlighting text in boldface won’t disrupt the grid (C). And all Office Fonts feature numbers that coordinate with both lowercase and capital letters, making complex syntax easier to read (D).
— Compatibility. Office Fonts from H&Co are produced in TrueType format, to support even the simplest (and oldest) business applications. The same font files can be installed on either Mac or Windows, making asset management and deployment easier.
Today we’re introducing twelve families of Office Fonts, all of them available for purchase and download. Some coordinate with our best-known typefaces (which serve the world’s best-known brands), Office Fonts for Gotham, Archer, Whitney and Sentinel. We’re also introducing Office Fonts for some of our newest releases, including this year’s Whitney Narrow and Operator. Below is just a taste of what Office Fonts can do.
The Whitney typeface has always been an adroit multitasker. Having grown out of a commission from New York’s Whitney Museum, the typeface was designed to serve two masters: the museum’s publications department, which needed a design both compact and energetic, and the facility’s public signage, which above all required legibility and sturdiness. A later addition designed for headlines, the six-style Whitney Condensed family, made Whitney an even more valuable tool for both publishers and brands.
But one challenge that Whitney has never confronted is the narrow column. As editorial designers know, narrow columns are the bugbear of typography: they’re hostile to wide typefaces, perverting text with overzealous hyphenation, and often demanding that headlines be craftily written. Designers, developers, publishers, and brands now face the challenge of narrow columns every day in the form of the mobile phone: with the ascendancy of apps and the mobile web, fonts are routinely set on a two-inch measure. For these applications — as well as the narrow columns that permeate magazine sidebars and captions, paper packaging, data visualizations, and product literature — we’ve created the compact and economical Whitney Narrow®.
Whitney Narrow was designed to thrive at sizes both large and small. At small sizes, it excels not only in text and informational typography such as charts and graphs, but for rendering the growing universe of fine print that’s often required but infrequently read: the ingredient lists, nutritional information, regulatory notices, disclaimers, and copyright legends that attract compact typefaces. In print, Whitney Narrow renders this fine print with clarity and warmth. For the screen, we’ve created the companion Whitney Narrow ScreenSmart family, a collection of twelve screen-optimized typefaces that’s designed and engineered to perform at sizes as small as nine pixels.
At headline sizes, Whitney Narrow makes a hale companion to the regular-width Whitney. It preserves Whitney’s angular motif (originally inspired by the iconic geometry of Marcel Breuer’s Madison Avenue museum), and features an option to disable these details when they’re not wanted. Above, Whitney Narrow Bold in two different moods: jaunty with its angled stroke endings, and sober without them. These gestures appear in 231 different characters, but can be quieted with a single setting in any application that supports OpenType Stylistic Sets, such as Adobe InDesign, and the Cloud.typography webfont dashboard.
Now you can use Cloud.typography to style email campaigns with your favorite H&Co fonts.
Designers who love type want to use it everywhere. And that’s an obsession that perfectly aligns with what clients need: why not brand all of a company’s communications consistently? Subscribers to our Cloud.typography service, who use H&Co fonts for their web and mobile communications, have recently begun asking about extending their typography to email as well. So we’re delighted to announce that starting today, all Cloud.typography subscriptions now include the ability to use fonts in email campaigns. We’re pleased to offer yet another way to use the power of typography to extend a brand’s voice.
A distinctive, high-quality typeface helps email stand out.
For many companies, email is the most direct way to communicate with their customers. It’s a critical part of any marketing strategy, but still a tough puzzle to crack: while people check their email constantly, and one-third of marketers say their subscribers read most of their email on mobile devices, nearly two-thirds of companies are looking for new ways to improve email personalization. It’s harder than ever to make email stand out — which is where the right typeface, chosen with care, can help. Now, your email campaigns can take part in everything that makes your brand unique, including its typography.
With Cloud.typography, readers of email can experience the same high-quality screen typography that they’ve come to expect from H&Co fonts on the web. Because email uses type at text sizes — and often, features so much text — email campaigns are the perfect place to use H&Co’s ScreenSmart fonts that are optimized for reading at small sizes. Take a look at our growing collection of ScreenSmart fonts specially tuned for text sizes, and then log in with your Cloud.typography subscription, where you’ll find an option for “email campaigns” included in all of your webfont projects.
Now, your email campaigns can share the same branding as all of your other communications.
Email is still a new frontier for typography. On the reader’s side, support for fonts is limited, but growing: many desktop and mobile apps like Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook support webfonts, but most browser-based clients like Gmail don’t. In other words, a branded email sent to a gmail.com address will render with webfonts if it’s being read in an application like Mail or Outlook, or on the mail app on the owner’s iPhone, but it won’t show the branded fonts if it’s being read inside a web browser. But as always, Cloud.typography won’t interfere with your message getting through: when someone reads a branded email in an application that doesn’t support webfonts, they’ll simply see it appear using the same system fonts that you’re using today.
Cloud.typography uses your available pageviews to satisfy email opens, with each open counting as a single pageview. You’ll find more information in our email FAQ, and some best practices for using fonts in email in the Cloud.typography user guide. If you’re using H&Co fonts in your other communications but aren’t yet a Cloud.typography subscriber, join today and you’ll have instant access to all the H&Co fonts you’ve ever purchased in the past, without the need to buy them again. Subscriptions start at $99/year.
We’re excited to offer designers a new tool to both elevate their typography and expand their reach. Fonts are the foundations of so many memorable experiences, and we’re glad to see H&Co fonts playing yet another role in the ways that successful and timeless brands communicate. —H&Co.
Somehow we’ve let the election season come to a close without thanking both parties for making this an 100% H&Co election. Continuing the signature voice of its 2008 campaign, Obama for America kept Gotham as its typographic keystone, this year adding our Sentinel typeface as a companion slab serif. The GOP chose fonts from us as well, the Romney campaign settling on Mercury for its serif and Whitney for its sans.
We’d especially like to thank the teams at Obama for America and Blue State Digital for making us a part of their outstanding work on Barackobama.com. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that webfonts from H&Co made their first appearance on that site earlier this year, an especially meaningful milestone for all of us. It’s not often that your first beta tester is the President of the United States.
If the coming days bring a bitter electoral challenge, or the next four years bring the nation continuing deadlock on Capitol Hill, Americans will know exactly who to blame: typeface designers. According to this study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, bad typography may be useful in softening the stance of the politically extreme. The theory is that awkward or uncomfortable typography disrupts a reader’s “confirmation bias,” one’s tendency to only see things that are agreeable. What amateur typography might do for a candidate’s credibility is anyone’s guess, and whether the study’s choice of Times Bold really counts as an acceptable control for “good typography” remains an open question. But I look forward to the 2016 election, in which the honorable grunge candidate will face off against his esteemed colleague using Comic Sans. —JH
It took a visit to Finland in 1996 to realize that Nokia the cellphone company and Nokia the tire company were one and the same. Apparently these are merely the latest stops on a very long journey: Nokia was founded in 1865 as a wood-pulp mill, on a channel of rapids between two Finnish lakes, all of which goes to explain why the company’s original logo was this slightly alarmed salmon.
Neatorama is running a very entertaining look at the evolution of tech companies’ logos, which includes such well-known corkers as IBM’s grand typographic globe, and the short-lived Apple logo (that still makes me hear strains of “Carry On My Wayward Son.”) Less publicized, with good reason, is the original Canon logo — néeKwanon — which had all the worldly sophistication of a Charlie Chan movie. I’m gravely concerned for the Motorola logo, though: it’s memorable, distinctive, and typographically lovely; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, which means it’s probably next in line for the ax. (Xerox, I’m looking at you.) So I'm adding this one to the H&Co Endangered Logo Watchlist, and offering 3:2 odds on a tragic redesign before the decade’s out. —JH.