The BBC has ditched its “100-year-old” typefaces for bespoke one BBC Reith, which looks to help the news platform cut costs and be more legible.
BBC Reith – named after the news organisation’s founder Lord John Reith – has been designed by the organisation’s in-house user experience and design (UX&D) team alongside type foundry Dalton Maag. It is first rolling out to BBC Sport.
It replaces Helvetica, Arial and Gill Sans, which have been used across the BBC websites and TV channels until now, and were designed “100 years ago for the printed page”, says David Bailey, creative director at the BBC’s UX&D team.
Gill Sans has been used across branding, while Helvetica and Arial have been used for body copy on Apple Macs and PCs respectively.
“Legibility-wise, they don’t perform well on today’s digital screens,” he says. “BBC Reith’s beautiful typeface is more versatile.”
He adds that the new typeface has a “calligraphic human touch” due to each letter’s varying stroke width, and is more legible because each letter is allowed “more breathing space”, and will help to make the brand’s content more recognisable.
The use of a bespoke, BBC-owned typeface also aims to save the organisation money, because it will no longer need to pay the licence fee to use external typefaces, according to the BBC.
The new typeface has been produced in five different font styles, with three sans-serifs and two serifs, which each range from light to extra bold in weight.
It will roll out across all BBC channels, websites and social media over the next year, and also across building signage and merchandise, once old items need replacing.
It has rolled out to BBC Sport first, in line with a full rebrand for the channel and site, which has been completed by in-house design team BBC Creative along Studio Output.
The rebrand sees BBC Sport take on a “consistent visual image for audiences” across websites, social media and TV, according to James Parry, head of marketing at BBC Sport.
This includes an updated logo using BBC Reith, a brighter colour palette and new shade of yellow, a modular website design that splits text up in a more “consistent and elegant way”, an animated version of the logo with a shadow, and animated, three-dimensional (3D) backgrounds used across broadcast and digital.
It is not known at the time of publishing whether other BBC sub-brands will undergo full rebrands this year.