Authors Abroad is all about storytelling. The organisation works with schools around the UK and beyond, helping them to book author, poet and illustrator visits that keep kids inspired.
Influenced by the wondrous world of children’s books, Authors Abroad now has new, vibrant branding that celebrates the possibilities of language. The project was handled by Smiths Workshop, a design studio based in the north of England, and is designed to help the brand “tell its own story”, namely through clever use of typography.
“The world of children’s literature is fun, exciting and inspiring so we were after a font for the brand that had plenty of playful personality to it without getting too jokey,” the studio’s Founder Jimmy Smith tells us. “A lot of fonts we looked at were either too straight or a bit over the top. The idea of creating a custom font that answered the brief and was unique to Authors Abroad went down really well with their team.”
“We played around with creating letters inspired by the weird and wonderful characters you find within any great kids’ book. Sharper edges for baddies contrast nicely with over rounded descenders for goodies,” he explains. Literature went on to play a significant role in shaping the most eye-catching element of the new font. “Good stories or poems have a fun, playful twist – something we interpreted quite literally within the letters. This gave the letters a handwritten feel too, which picked up nicely on illustrators being part of the Authors Abroad offering.”
Smith explains that the custom font creates a connection between the different parts of the Authors Abroad business, namely its Able Days event series and the publishing arm of the brand, Caboodle Books. “It was a lot of fun coming up with different shapes for the characters, but it did become a balancing act between something that gave us plenty of personality and something that was easy enough to read both in print and onscreen,” Smith adds.
Building on the pink found in the previous Authors Abroad identity, Smiths Workshop developed a broad, punchy colour scheme that enhances the fun nature of the new typeface, Bonkers. “The custom font brought a lot of personality to the brand, and we wanted the colour palette to complement it, not fight with it,” Smith says.
At the heart of the new identity is language, so much so that the quirky characters are actually formed out of letters. “We liked the idea that a whole brand world could evolve from the custom font,” explains Smith. “The individual symbols can be used to create fun graphic patterns. Letters and symbols can be turned into faces. Eyes and mouths (taken from the font’s punctuation marks) can be added to the letters to create characters – giving them a whole new personality of their own.”
“Originally the characters were going to take more of a back seat, but the team at Authors Abroad were keen for these to serve, quite literally, as the face of the new brand,” he adds. “And of course, the characters needed somewhere to live. We gave them a series of bright and beautiful scenes as playful and adventurous as the books they were inspired by.”