Nokia new font

jakes's picture

Yeah or nay?

Nokia Pure

Trevor Baum's picture

Erasing the work of Erik Spiekermann is never wise. That said, t's a nice face - looks a lot like Myriad/Droid Sans.

vilbel's picture

Looking at this image

I recognized it immediately as that Nokia font, which speaks, I think, very strong for a face as "basic" as Nokia Sans. On the other hand, the interface itself does look very good in Nokia Pure.

Si_Daniels's picture

Condensed fonts were basically essential in the pre-smart-phone era, as the displays were small, had coarse dpi's and you wanted to cram as much UI or text message on the screen as possible. As we move beyond that era the condensed fonts are starting to feel clunky. So as much as I love the old font, the new one makes sense for high res phones with plenty of screen real estate.

Stephen Coles's picture

Nokia Sans was unique. The new typeface is boring — fine for the UI, but not an identity. No distinction.

blank's picture

It would be interesting to know more about how the language requirements of the type shaped its design.

greyletter's picture

Here is a link to the Dalton Maag write up.

Stephen Coles's picture

“It was felt that the design now looked dated and no longer reflected the design ethos of the company.”

Which is now bland, directionless, run-of-the-mill.

eriks's picture

The comparison on the DaltonMaag site is unfair. It only shows one of the Condensed weights. Nokia is a big family, including a Wide version (made by Jelle Bosma at Monotype) which is far less explicit but therefore perfectly suited to being used on UIs. Nokia Serif doesn’t even get a mention at all. Seems that Nokia never used it. That puts them far behind cleverer companies who realize that they need more typographic expression across all media than offered by 3 weights of a generic Sans.

I have posted a PDF on my blog that contains an early (2002) presentation of the complete family, with some comments by me about the shortcomings of these early pre-release fonts.

Either the communication and marketing people at Nokia didn’t bother to look at what they had (it seems that they change personnel very often, losing knowledge with every generation) or Bruno Maag’s selling talent won the day. It would have been a much better idea to look at the existing fonts, analyze them from a branding and technical point of view and then bring them into the present. Ten years is a long time for any technology, including fonts, but there is no reason why old benefits could not be combined with new requirements. Technically, Nokia Pure is a great typeface, as everything is that DaltonMaag produce, but it won’t be half as memorable as the good old Nokia Sans and Serif were.

Designing fonts for brands needs a combination of technical and branding know-how and this time the engineers seem to have won. Unless, of course, Nokia deliberately wants to be as bland as Microsoft.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I want to see these in context. As a first impression they seem much more suitable for Nokias external communication needs, and a "bland" typeface can do one heck of a job in a busy context. Nokia, graphically, have never impressed me before. I can certainly see that Erics old types are dated, although technically excellent. (Btw, is this ranting all over twitter and typophile just a lot of sucking up to the type celebs?)

eriks's picture

a "bland" typeface can do one heck of a job
A complete family of faces for a brand will include simpler versions as well that may have to work in an Office environment. We’ve done versions of Bosch Sans and DB Sans (exclusive for Deutsche Bahn, German Railways) to the widths of Arial (which is fitted to Helvetica widths) so text wouldn’t re-run in documents that don’t have the original font installed. Those are compromises and may look less than perfect, but this is what we do to make things work. But this doesn’t mean that all the members of an exclusive family of faces for a big brand have to be faceless (pardon the pun). All our recent families have included Sans and Serif, normal and condensed, even wide and compressed. They all share certain features and belong together, not like twins but like sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. Designing one corporate typeface is so 80s and betrays a design philosophy that aims for uniformity and is hardly adequate for today’s media requirements. Wo wants to read a printed annual report in the light weight of geometric sans? Or tight spreadsheets in a generous serif? A brand needs to express all its communication in the appropriate visual voice. And type is visual language that needs to whisper, shout, sing and murmur, wherever necessary.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Eric, don’t get me wrong. Nokia Sans seems a better response to the diverse needs, but I can see why they think it looks dated.

Trevor Baum's picture

Here is Erik Spiekermann's response to the whole deal - congratulating Dalton Maag, but also calling them a bit cowardly for not consulting with him on the job.

Quincunx's picture

I also thought Nokia Pure was a bit bland. I mean, it looks fine, the typeface looks pretty smooth, but it doesn't have much character for branding purposes.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Erik (not c) posted just above me, Trevor.

Trevor Baum's picture

Oh whoops, you are absolutely right.

greyletter's picture

Out of curiosity, does Nokia Sans and Nokia Serif support non-western character sets? Erik, unfortunately the PDF on your blog only shows the font used in English. I was interested in seeing how the design was translated into Greek and Cyrillic if such a thing existed. I suppose they may not exisit since ten years ago the language support needs were different.

jasonc's picture

No, there are Greek and Cyrillic for Nokia Sans at least. I can't recall how far Nokia Serif went.

Jason C

AdamC's picture

It's not all that distinct compared to the current font, but I find Nokia Pure easier to read. The font doesn't look so cramped anymore.

eriks's picture

The font doesn't look so cramped anymore.

You must have been looking at Nokia Condensed only. There is a Wide version. Read my post (always helps to read what others have written before forming an opinion).

eriks's picture

the PDF on your blog only shows the font used in English

That was a very early presentation, before the complete family has been produced. Monotype did all that. I only did basic character sets with pretty crummy outlines.

Magneto's picture

I thought Nokia Sans looked good on recent Nokia touch devices but the phones themselves failed to conquer the market. It looks obvious Nokia are trying to distance themselves from the past in an attempt to seem contemporary.

Do all brands need to be timeless? Is it wrong to rebrand every decade? For a quick-changing industry that barely existed 25 years ago, a strong identity that was for some time omnipresent and well recognized might be keeping the associations the public has with the brand to a certain popular technology that now is a decade old.
Perhaps, had Erik's typeface had less character, the association the brand has with the now 'old' type of phones would not be so strong and the font could stay.

If you look at Nokia history it would seem absurd for them to use their branding from the time they were selling rubber and paper. Five years old Nokia phones are now this: Nokia rubber.

Nokia is trying to rebrand quite desperately, and understandably so. Just to think that 4 years ago Nokia E61 was the ultimate 'internet phone'—this alone brings a smile on my face.
The game has changed and they want to convince everyone they're still on top of it. They want to cut the associations with the technology now seen as obsolete.

Coca-Cola on the other hand—back when Nokia produced paper—sold sugar water. Now, Coca-Cola sells sugar water. They are more of the type of company that could do with a 'timeless' brand.

Is it me or… Doesn't Dalton Maag's press release look a tad ironic with the rotisesque Stroudley they use on their website?

Quick, somebody tell them their brand looks dated!

eriks's picture

The game has changed and they want to convince everyone they're still on top of it. They want to cut the associations with the technology now seen as obsolete.

That is the best explanation I’ve seen so far. They may need a new brand, but does it have to be based on a bland typeface to be successful? As someone else suggested: why not go with Segoe and slip under Microsoft’s big wings?

Trevor Baum's picture

Apple managed to take Myriad, a pretty bland, nice, unmemorable typeface, and successfully make it part of their brand.

RadioB's picture

Nay. Although I agree the old one is outdated, I think they should have gone
back to Spiekermann for an update.

Stephen Coles's picture

Trevor – true, using a Frutigeresque humanist sans worked for Apple, but that was 10 years ago. Pure is very much in the same genre as Myriad. So, now, Nokia shares a look established long ago by one of its competitors and departs only slightly from their overlords at Microsoft (Segoe). It doesn't have its own identity – which is maybe fitting for the road it's traveling.

Canetti's picture

Geez, Erik, take it like a big boy. They (Nokia) obviously didn't want to use your typeface anymore and went with someone else. That's all there is to it.
Trying to define what is 'bland' or not is purely a snotty subjective exercise anyway. Personally, I've yet to see a single typeface from you (Erik) that I find remotely attractive. Not because they are bland or 'un-bland', but because your aesthetic in typography just doesn't really sit well with me. Just like some fashion-designer's stuff, or artist's paintings... etc.

guest's picture


vinceconnare's picture

Type is function over art. It it a tool that does a job.

It not all about pretty pictures. Type is not art it is design and software engineering.

Bendy's picture

Interesting range of opinions. I assume people are aware of the leaked memo from the Nokia CEO to all employees...makes me think Magneto's onto something.

Whilst I agree Erik's family was a whole lot more recognisable, and personally don't find the Pure family very satisfying, I'd also say only time will tell whether this is a successful font rebrand or not...Vince is right we have to look at design rationally as an answer to a brief rather than what designers may think of the work. Let's wait and see what impact will this have on Nokia's sales and marketing.

Si_Daniels's picture

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Adobe switch from that Apple branding font to something more quirky in Adobe Clean -

The similarities of the naming is interesting, “Nokia Pure”, “Adobe Clean”... what next “Exxon Pristine” :-)

blank's picture

I wonder if these cheesy names (and fonts) are used to sell an idea to non-designers who’s entire visual vocabulary can be summed up with modernist cliches like “clean” and “simple”.

Ray Larabie's picture

I like Nokia Pure it but the original Nokia family is a classic. When does the period of exclusivity expire?

eriks's picture

something more quirky in Adobe Clean

Putting more Gill into Myriad and cutting bits off the ends qualifies as quirky? Pretty lame, considering Adobe’s history and typographic talent still in the building. Seems another occasion where some art director or brand person wanted something a little “different” but not too original, lest that might test badly in focus groups.

And, @typodermic:
I never signed anything with Nokia. I supplied very rough outlines for a few weights with incomplete character sets which were turned into complete fonts by Jelle Bosma at Monotype. I suppose I could go back to the original sketches and make a new typeface, although some people here would find that one old-fashioned and tired. So far, however, all my designs from the late 80s (like FF Meta and ITC Officina) are still selling quite well. But then again, life is probably too short to warm up old ideas. I’d rather work on new ones.

Syndicate content Syndicate content