You know a brand has truly arrived when it has its very own typeface.
In June of this year the hugely successful, and often deeply controversial, investment bank, Goldman Sachs, announced it had commissioned a bespoke typeface, with the tongue in cheek name of Goldman Sans.
“Goldman Sans is a clean, modern typeface designed for dense data-rich environments,” the company announced, going on to describe it as clear, contemporary and credible.
“When we set out to design a custom typeface for Goldman Sachs, we knew that these three attributes would guide the decisions we made along the way,” explained the design team. “The font needed to draw from the firm’s 150-year heritage while looking ahead to what Goldman Sachs wanted to be in the future.”
Whilst the typeface does have some personality, its primary purpose is functional. The company wanted every character to be perfectly legible, whether used in the tiny cells of a spreadsheet or up on a giant billboard.
“The design challenge was to make something distinctive enough to be worthy of existing without being so quirky that it got annoying over time,” explains Steve Turbek, who had responsibility for the project at Goldman Sachs.
The company Turbek and his team chose to create the typeface was the specialist British design firm, Dalton Maag, who have undertaken projects for Rio 2016, Google, Intel and Nokia.
Dalton Maag developed the distinctive Bookerly typeface for Amazon’s Kindle devices and, in 2018, a new typeface called BBC Reith for the BBC.
Goldman Sachs are not alone in using type to tell their story.
Other brands that have recently unveiled their own include CNN, Duolingo and Toyota.
“Corporate fonts provide a consumer’s first impression,” Sarah Hyndman, the author of ‘Why Fonts Matter’, told the New York Times. “It sets a tone. It creates trust. It’s a flavor.”
Goldman Sans is available for anyone to download and use for free. But the license agreement has a curious clause, as spotted by a Twitter user called Matt Round.
“User may not use the Licensed Font Software to disparage Goldman Sachs.”