Dalton Maag has worked with design agency Red Peak to create technology company Intel’s first ever proprietary font, Intel Clear. We spoke to Bruno Maag about the project…
Intel Clear is designed to work across all writing systems and on any media platform. Dalton Maag has so far released Latin, Greek and Cyrillic styles in a range of weights, and the font will eventually be applied to all Intel communications in every language.
The new font is part of Red Peak’s ongoing efforts to simplify the company’s branding: as Intel’s previous font choice was only available in Latin, similar looking ones had to be sourced for other scripts, resulting in inconsistent branding and multiple complex licensing deals. It also wasn’t optimised for use on screen, and Red Peak felt the company needed one that would work just as well on tablets as billboards.
“[The old font] looked outdated and had a slightly mechanical feel,” says Dalton Maag creative director Bruno Maag. “Intel needed a brand font with personality… to be read by a five year old as much as by an 80 year old, used in small, large, in print, on screen and on devices that haven’t even been invented yet.”
Dalton Maag has been working on the project for around a year, and spent a month with Red Peak developing 20 initial concepts. The old Intel font was “completely disregarded,” says Maag, in favour of a cleaner design that references Intel’s logo and its values of openness and friendliness. “We picked up a few elements and basic proportions from the logo – you can see it in the way strokes are rounded off,” adds Maag.
Consistency is achieved across various scripts in the contrast, terminals and soft angles and Maag says characters are designed to have a “human” feel. “If you look at the way the lower case ‘a’ terminates, there’s a nice feature in the bottom of the stroke, a little like calligraphy pen lettering. We wanted the characters to have a human, friendly quality,” he says.
While Intel Clear had to communicate the brand’s personality, however, Maag says it was important to exercise restraint. “If you have too much personality, it leads to a fashionable design, which feels outdated in five years,” he says. “For a company like Intel, it needs to live at least 10-15 years and ideally even longer.”
It was also important to ensure Intel Clear looked contemporary across different scripts, says Maag. “Designing a font like this, you have to really think about functionality and how it looks in other languages. Something might look contemporary in a Latin font but old fashioned or totally inappropriate for Arabic. You have to find the one that works for both,” he says.
Throughout the development process, Intel Clear had to be tested on a range of different screens, from smartphones to tablets and PCs. The main challenge, says Maag, was creating one that would cater to various screen sizes and resolutions. “In print, you have a fairly clear idea of where the font’s going to end up but with digital, you have to consider legacy devices, such as black and white or low resolution phones used in the developing world, [as well as] multi colour, hi res tablets. We had to exclude some devices below 100dpi,” he explains.
Another technical challenge was creating characters that would meet the height restrictions set by bounding boxes on digital devices. “Some Hindi letters, for example, are extremely tall, so we had to contextualise the proportional relationship. It did mean some compromises on design,” says Maag. To avoid text looking too condensed on small screens, Maag says characters had to be generous and relaxed.
Intel Clear is still a work in progress (some scripts have yet to be released) but from what we’ve seen, Dalton Maag and Red Peak have created a versatile font that gives Intel a more distinctive yet streamlined identity system. Every modern technology company should have a font that’s optimised for on-screen usage, and by creating one that works across all scripts, the agencies will likely save Intel a great deal of money in long term legal and licensing costs.