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Designing a bespoke typeface for Eurosport PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

As part of our recent work with Eurosport for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics Games, we developed a bespoke typeface that became an essential part of the brand language. Our Associate Creative Director, Harry spoke to Henrik Kubel from A2-TYPE about the collaboration and why in today’s digital-first world, bespoke typefaces are becoming more essential.

Harry Ead [HE]: Quite early on in the creative process, we started to explore how a custom typeface inspired by the unique forms of the Korean written language — Hangul — could bring a unique aesthetic to the project. We also wanted to avoid falling into clichés about Asian culture and the traditional brushstroke scripts used in previous games.

We worked on some sketches and quickly prototyped a rough working typeface to test out. We were working on the Eurosport ‘Home of the Olympics’ brand campaign at the same time, with a custom cut of A2-TYPE’s New Grotesk Square font, so it made sense to talk to Henrik about our ideas for a new font for Eurosport PyeongChang 2018.

Henrik Kubel [HK]: DixonBaxi provided us with preliminary sketches and rough drawings of single letters based on our existing typeface, which we then crafted and engineered into a complete font. There was some discussion about the way curve endings, ‘the blade,’ on individual glyphs should look, and I think we arrived at a good solution in the end.

“It was clear that getting the balance right between aesthetic and function was going to be a challenge.”

HE: Our initial sketches were probably a bit too out there! They looked great for the one or two words and captured the attitude we wanted, but once you looked at the whole typeface holistically, it was clear that getting the balance right between aesthetic and function was going to be a challenge. Type design is a highly-skilled craft, and working with Henrik to retain the sharp, striking quality but not sacrifice the usability was an essential part of the collaboration.

Henrik, what aspect of a project like this to be the most challenging?

HK: To craft a font that could sit alongside and support our existing typefaces so that when combined they would work harmoniously, and help make the Eurosport PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games a unique and memorable experience.

HE: For me, the sense of ‘uniqueness’ is a crucial part of any brand. The way in which we interact with brands has changed hugely over the last decade. We’re continually absorbing information or reacting to content through platforms. A font, an interaction or motion theory are becoming as much of a recognisable asset for a brand as a logo.

HK: The good news is that screens in most homes today, and on a majority of platforms, are super high resolution and supremely crisp so that type can shine, even in smaller sizes.

A custom font is one of the most valuable assets a company can invest in and own. This single design item ‘a font’ is a critical component that helps transform a brand from an idea into reality, it is what you see, it is what you read, it is what navigates you. The future of type design is to understand the value fonts and typography can add to a brand.

HE: The challenge for every brand (and designer!) is discovering, building or creating a unique voice that makes them stand apart. Once you have that, it’s about finding ways to make yourself heard, and making sure you don’t get drowned out by others.

When we started the Eurosport PyeongChang 2018 project, we made a very conscious decision to do things differently, to find new inspirations and show the pretty audacious winter sports in a new way — for a new audience.

The attitude that the typeface gave us became the foundation for the design system. It’s been said a many times before, but if you covered the Eurosport logo on any of the applications you would still know it’s them and the custom typeface played a considerable part in that instant recognition.

HK: It is really simple, you either stand out, or you don’t. If you want to lead, make a mark, be heard, then you must invest in every single detail of your business, from the strategy of your brand and products, down to how a specific curve in your font looks.

About Eurosport PyeongChang 2018
With a mission to inspire and engage a younger audience, DixonBaxi partnered with Eurosport to deliver its Games-time campaign, taking strong cultural cues from the South Korean location of the Games. Injecting a ‘K-pop’ spirit of hyper-neon colours and vibrancy into the brand experience, they created a radically different cross-platform identity — the antithesis to the typical frost bitten white winter imagery — transforming the entire Eurosport brand into Games-mode over the fortnight of the games.

Hailed as the first ‘digital Olympics,’ Discovery/Eurosport’s hosting of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games across all platforms has achieved a staggering 58% total European population viewership, with 4.5 billion video views and 1.7 billion total hours of video watched.

This included 4000 hours of Eurosport coverage, 900 hours of live action, and up to 1000 Social-first, short-form video assets generated each day.

386 million people experienced the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games with Eurosport.