Typeface: Harmony

Designer: Jeremy Tankard

Designer: Jeremy Tankard

Typeface: Harmony

Design consultancy: The Partners

Client: Telstra

Harmony is a bespoke typeface, created for a telecommunications company. Designer Jeremy Tankard was commissioned to produce a face that would help to maintain a consistent and unique image across a multi-lingual brand. Harmony was hand-drawn and then extended to support all the standard European languages, as well as Turkish, Greek and Vietnamese.

Telstra is an Australian company, but recognised that its target market extends beyond English speakers – Melbourne, for example, is said to have the largest Greek population outside of Greece – and, of course, they use their telephones just as much as English-speakers. Tankard hired experts to help and advise with the non-Latin letterforms, seeking to maintain integrity of the font across a group of very different alphabets. ‘The non-Latin based scripts were selected from existing fonts,’ he explains, ‘but at least everything with a Latin form has the same, consistent look.’

Harmony is a sophisticated sans serif face with flowing, stressed lines and a pleasing rhythm. It has certain handwriting-based features such as a rounded e bar in lower case, which make it slightly reminiscent of Sassoon. ‘After they got over the initial shock, it was interesting how they warmed to it,’ says Tankard. ‘People get quite protective [about a custom typeface] because they really start to feel that it’s their property.’

Tankard, who studied at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, the Royal College of Art and Reading College and School of Arts and Design, tends to work in the corporate arena, and has designed several custom faces for the likes of Sabena and Gameplay. He is sceptical about many companies’ motives for commissioning bespoke fonts, believing it’s often merely a ruse to get around licensing costs. The aesthetic values are often questionable, too. Graphic designers armed with font design packages, rather than bona fide typographers, he believes, have a tendency to ‘chop bits off an existing typeface and claim it as something unique. It just tends to look like a typeface with bits chopped off it’.

For it to be legal, he warns, every character needs to have been changed by at least 25 per cent. This could be tricky with a full stop, so often it’s worth creating a new face from scratch.

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