Royal Atlas - Sans Serif Critique

IanCrombie's picture

Royal Atlas is the title of the project I am working on for my senior show. It is, in summary, a luxury airline. To create a strong brand I decided to craft a custom typeface.

I wanted the type to have two lives, so to speak. One as a display face where its 'diamondy' edges, irregular curves and ink wells shine. The other as a text face where all those elements become less prominent.

The type is at a point now where I need to fix some of the quirks that are not working and refine any flaws. I would greatly appreciate if you could take a look and tell me what you think. Any and all feedback is welcome.

To start things off I've attached the alphabet.



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speter's picture

I think the ink traps distract too much from the face and make it look spindly and overly bumpy. The face is essentially monoline, but then it has these odd joins where it tapers down to next to nothing.

Either you could introduce more humanist traits into the face, to give the tapers a reason to be, or you could lessen their extreme lightness and bring back the monoline nature. As it stands now, I don't think it works.

IanCrombie's picture

Thanks for the comment Steve, perhaps they do taper too much. I'll play with that. But as mentioned in the intro that was my intention. Its kitchy, if not distracting, yes — But that's when its at display size. In body copy those ink traps disappear and dazzle.

I can see now that the tapers may be on the cusp of being too thin. What do others think?

Thanks again,

Randy's picture

I applaud your ambitious project! The "ink trap" feature seems ok but problematic in execution as SJP mentions. The faceted edges are not saying luxury to me on any level. You say they look kitch in display. Where do kitch and luxury airline intersect?

Take a look at the *free* and excellent Kontrapunkt typeface. It comes from the same genus as your idea:

My advice would be to remove the faceting. Then you can really focus on the shapes and we can give further crit. An interesting start. I look forward to seeing this used in the program. Can you show us that? Would help us get a feel for the design language of the ID system.

IanCrombie's picture

Yeah that has amazing elements, its looks as though my type is the bastard child of Museo, Kontrapunkt and Breuer Text! Maybe I should just hang up my shoes and use Kontrapunkt.

I suppose kitch was the wrong word as yes, kitch has nothing to do with luxury airline. I suppose i was looking more for "quirk," such as the prada R & A. I was hoping that the quirk, awful or not, would be memorable — preferably in a good way. Perhaps those elements are only best explored in the logotype, which I am exploring in creating a fat face for. I will post those tomorrow.

I am drawn to my odd faceted edges but; should I: a.) emphasize them or b.) as Randy Mentions remove them. Right now it is definitely in between.

Thanks so much everyone, I really appreciate the crit so far.

Randy's picture

Ian let me suggest this:

Focus on the logo and the identity. Get that perfect and then use your *extra time* (haha) to worry about the font. AND EVEN THEN I would only worry about a single display weight to work with an existing typeface for text. That would be an ambitious,but manageable student project IMO.

Thoughts to guide your design of the logo:
Be clear about the position of your new airline brand. You say luxury. Luxury how and for whom? Is this a "luxury" experience for the budget conscious - eg JetBlue vs Southwest or "luxury" for the well-healed international business traveler - eg Emirates / Singapore "now with private suites." Have you created a brief, and if so, what is it?

Good luck and show us a logo!

Arlo Vance's picture

One immediate thought I had was to treble the weight but keep the size of the ink traps the same, so there is justification for them. Then work backwards from a bold/black weight toward a lighter version. This might help some of the "kitch" disappear and become "refined character"

One thing that the Prada R has going for it, is the weight (not to mention some serious [brand] equity)

I also second the comments Randy made. Tighten up a brief, and get a logo up first.

IanCrombie's picture

Randy and Arlo, Awesome advice... here is my project proposal - in bullet form.

Royal Atlas is an up and coming airline & lifestyle carrier that wants to ‘spread its wings’ and become an equitable brand / company. It caters specifically to ‘events’ and wishes to make the experience of traveling a beneficially and enriching experience.

How do you structure / design an interface to build a strong loyal clientele and an efficiently run airline, while maintaining a lifestyle brand with strong brand equity. What sets this airline apart from others?

Answer / Proposal
As technology is no replacement for the actual experience of travel it will be used extensively to supplement the planning and sharing of destinations. In addition the layout of the plane will create community.
– Destinations cater to specific events
– Travel Buddies – Groups (Companies can charter this service with other companies.)
– Sponsored Events
o User created coverage
• Twitter feed page
• Live update photos & maps
• iPhone community – trip specific recommendations ,‘loopt’ like meeting opportunities.
– Branded user created content
o Photo Albums (Printed) – made by user
o Travel site w/ map & photos for friends and family (or for all)
o User Swag
– Create Printed ads that advertise the style and ideas of the
brand “Making Google Maps better” ??
– Interior Design of the plane to allow for conversations, (instead of all people in rows facing forward toward the destination, people will be grouped at ‘tables’ or in circles to induce conversation and sharing)

The nice thing about traveling in a group & a digital community is that it allows you to use it to better your experience, whether you are ‘social’ or not.

Technology allows you to hide & be anonymous or network & be seen / heard. Either way the tools supplied at a personal level by the airline supplement the experience and can be utilized by professionals for personal gain.

The goal of Royal Atlas is to create a community to share travel experiences and aid in networking.

IanCrombie's picture

Logo time? Yes!

Simple explanation of the logo:
-Globe - as it relates to 'atlas'
-Compass - as it relates to traveling
-Diamond - as it is 'royal'
-Circle - as this is how people will be seated
-Colored Triangles - as many people will be sharing their voices creating conversation.

I also took Arlo's advice and made a bold face (well just the logotype so far.) It had crossed my mind that such thin type would disappear on the side of a plane. Bold just seems to be par for the course.

So there will be accents of these really bright colours, as seen in the logo. But for the most part the identity will rely heavily on Black, White, Gray, and Silver with these colors as accents. These colors are based off of some of the colours I've been seeing come down the Spring 2009 Runways.

Also I plan on making the logo dynamic, the colors can shift fade in and out. Also they can relate to the separate features of my website (to be) and will help navigate.

Royal Atlas : Bold Type & Logo

What do you think?

Arlo Vance's picture

After reading the brief, it seems to be more focused on marketing materials than on visual strategy.

I would ask a few questions about where you want the visual direction to go.
1. what adjectives do you want people to describe the company as? (fun or serious, inclusive or exclusive, cold or warm, business or casual, etc.) [Randy touched a little on this idea]
2. What visual elements support the adjectives you selected?
3. what other brands would consumers of this brand be likely to subscribe to? what visual language works for these brands? Do you want your visual language to be similar/dissimilar? (Be wary that answers to this question can easily cross the line toward plagiarism.)
4. Identify the demographic more specifically. In addition to the online users, what are their spending habits, income level, hobbies, gender, ethnicity, careers, etc.

The answers to these questions give a more specific framework and it becomes much easier to develop a visual direction that can then be applied to the marketing materials you outlined in the brief.

Think general to specific. If you outline objectives and strategy before you start executing, you'll end up with more appropriate work. Freedom within boundaries.

As far as the logo you have now, it feels much more casual and conversational than luxury; more geared to a predominantly female audience, which may or may not be the demographic you are after.

Hopefully this is helpful. P.S. I realize this is a student project, but it's always good to build the foundation before building the house on it. Best of luck.

Randy's picture

One thing the PRADA doesn't have going for it is good spacing. That is terrible, horrible, no good, very bad... Ok constructive feedback on THIS coming later :-)

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