Serrano: a custom typeface for Bank of New Zealand

kris's picture

Kia ora folks,

The rebranding of BNZ by DNA Design has just gone live. They're using Serrano, a custom typeface that I whipped up for them. Kiwis will see the new rebrand roll out through the country over the next few months. Your thoughts are welcome, as always.


Nick Shinn's picture

One solution is to set round sidebearings tight, then gently kern the round-rounds positively.

Yes, I did that in Figgins Sans. Primarily so that it sets well when large and tracked negatively, but I found that it doesn't hurt text setting either.

billtroop's picture

>One solution is to set round sidebearings tight, then gently kern the round-rounds positively. This is what I did in Harrier, and people seem to think highly of its spacing.

That's fantastic, Hrant. You independently discovered one of the cornerstones of Berthold's spacing system: tight o's eliminate problems with caps and diagonals, and all possible o-o shapes have 10 or 20 units of positive kerning. If you subtract the cap-to-cap positive kerning, it's a fairly simple system.

kris's picture

Kris, your website won’t work for me. Can you please post images of the Serrano fonts in this thread?

That's a bit worrying. What browser/platform are you using? Surely it must have been working before due to all of your comments?

How did you (plural?) choose the name?

For commissions I have stay out of the naming process, I prefer to leave that up to the client. As far as I understand, Serrano is a type of cured Spanish ham. It's a little bit of humour, as BNZ use loads of animated pigs in their ads.


William Berkson's picture

Bill, interesting info about Lino, Mono, and Berthold. What are the other principles were involved in the Berthold system?

guifa's picture

Yeah I have to admit the name threw me for a bit. Serrano is a type of mountain and I was trying to figure out the connection to New Zealand. Good to see the marketing people (who I presume named the font) have some good humor.

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

dezcom's picture

>visual physics and balancing forces inherent in the font...'If it were just personal expression, you could say to hell with balance.'

Bill, Huh? who even mentioned personal expression? You totally misunderstood me.


dezcom's picture

>One solution is to set round sidebearings tight, then gently kern the round-rounds positively.

I always do this and even more so with caps. My biggest "discovery" (probably old hat to others but...) was to give up on Capital spacing feature and instead, space the caps purely with the lowercase then kern the caps to each other with positive kerning. This eliminates the unified application of space between all kinds of pairs and allows a more sensible approach. It only takes a couple of class-kerning pairs to work. The biggest factor is adding space between straight sidebearings with a chunk of positive kerning. It also lessens the issue with matching diagonals like A and V with straights like H and N.


gohebrew's picture


> Open Type doesn’t do away with the benefit of kerning, at least for roman fonts.

In OpenType, I can create a way each kind of character pair should be distanced from each other, and store it in the font. This is character-based kerning. Not in the application but in the font.

Why do you think it doesn't do away with kerning?

gohebrew's picture


> What feature are you talking about? You can’t mean the glyph palette, it is part of the application software.

The glyph palette only selects a letter at a time. Even if OpenType is selected in the Diacritics palette, no kerning-like feature results, if the OpenType font was hastily made.

As Paul Nelson, formerly the head of Microsoft Typography said: "OpenType is [then] just a wrapper for a cross platform TrueType font."

A "true" OpenType font can do much much more.

Nick Shinn's picture

Surely it must have been working before due to all of your comments?

Yes. I cleared my cache and it's working now.

Nick Shinn's picture

tight o’s eliminate problems with caps and diagonals,

Another option is to give v's and w's negative widebearings (which would be considered kerning in metal type!), as in Georgia, for instance.

William Berkson's picture

>who even mentioned personal expression? You totally misunderstood me.

Sorry, let me try again. I am not talking about "personal philosophy" at all, but what is really going on when people read--that some fonts are better for text than others, and this has partly to do with spacing. Are we in agreement about that? Or are you making another point?

I am of course in agreement that the successful spacing depends on the individual letter shapes, and how they relate to others.

Israel, I guess I am not understanding you either. Are you referring to using Open Type features for kerning rather than "flat" kerning? That's not doing away with kerning, its just using a different means to kern, right?

billtroop's picture

William, to answer your question about Berthold kerning, the other primary feature, and the one that takes up the most space, is positive cap-to-cap kerning. However, the purpose of this is not to fix errors that could have occurred because of incorrect relationships with the lowercase or with itself. The purpose is to guarantee, by default, well-spaced (near "letterspaced") caps in all-cap settings. I don't actually think it's a good system, though no less an authority than Erik Spiekermann is very much in favour of it. I think what Matthew Carter has worked out in his later work (the past ten or fifteen years) is just about the best. It is much more sophisticated, and not always easy to understand, but I always find that his fonts have the answer to any question I encounter. And I always have plenty, because I am not one of nature's fitters, and always find it a trial.

>BTW, who are these re-designers? Is it legal?

No names! Under Adobe's rules, it would be legal, provided that the user had a license to the font. With Emigre I wouldn't like to say, except that a lot of use of the fonts would not take place without this treatment, and they don't seem to have sued anyone over it - - it would look so silly. How can you sue someone for repairing basic defects in your product?

ebensorkin's picture

I want to remind folk that while it's natural for conversations to veer around a bit there is a point where a new thread is called for. That point occurred some time back in my opinion. If you want to keep talking about Kris' very nifty and well made typeface by all means continue. If you want to talk about Richler, spacing or your favorite recipe start a thread and link to it.

Ratbaggy's picture

great stuff as always Kriz.

Paul Ducco
Graphic Design Melbourne
Bicycle Film Festival

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