• Transform magazine
  • November 19, 2017

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The type writer: BBC's typeface rebrand

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Bruno Maag discusses the development of the BBC’s new organisation- wide typeface, BBC Reith

Public sector institutions are under constant scrutiny whenever they spend money, and under intense pressure to show return on investment when they rebrand or update their visual identity. The launch of the new BBC Reith fonts addresses exactly this as the corporation invests in its own property and saves money by reducing its spend on licensed fonts.

The BBC is a globally recognised brand, and the world’s leading public service broadcaster. But its use of Gill Sans, Helvetica, Arial and others created problems for its visual communications with a lack of distinctiveness, and problems with on screen clarity.

Creating visual cohesiveness across all output by the BBC is the remit of the Global Experience Language (GEL) team. The disparate application of typography was an important issue that needed tackling, and with the help of stakeholders from across the organisation, requirements for BBC Reith were established. By involving the stakeholders that will be responsible for the implementation, the brand can gain internal acceptance for this new part of the visual identity and secure its successful application.

Besides aesthetic qualities, the BBC also has a clear responsibility to be accessible to a diverse audience across diverse media. Recent neurological research assisted in de ning the design features of the new font suite to facilitate the ease of reading and comprehension, and possibly even assist people with disabilities. A deep understanding of today’s technological needs ensures that the fonts display optimally across a diverse range of devices.

The new font suite, named BBC Reith, debuted across BBC Sport in August 2017, and a staged rollout for the rest of the BBC will follow. The design and its implementation are owned by the BBC, allowing the corporation ultimate exibility as they continue their mission to inform, educate and entertain.

Bruno Maag, chairman, Dalton Maag