News / Graphic Design

BBC’s new typeface BBC Reith is designed to improve legibility on screen

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The BBC has commissioned a new typeface, BBC Reith which will make text easier to read on screen and “will also save the BBC money”. The “master-brand” typeface is named after the organisation’s founder Lord John Reith, and has started to be rolled out gradually starting on BBC Sport.

To design the typeface the BBC worked with type foundry Dalton Maag. David Bailey, BBC’s creative director of GEL and UX&D says: “Working on the font has been a fantastic collaborative effort by stakeholders from right across the organisation. Up to now we’ve used Helvetica (or Arial if you’re on a PC) for our digital reading experience, and Gill Sans for our master branded services (e.g. News, Sport, Weather etc). These fonts were designed 100 years ago for the printed page so therefore, legibility-wise, they don’t perform well on today’s digital screens.”

On the typeface itself David says: “Reith is a contemporary Humanist typeface. Humanist typefaces are named as such due to each character’s fluctuating stroke width which suggests a calligraphic human touch.  Reith has contemporary proportions, consistent vertical cut terminals with sharp connections of curved strokes to straight. The open counters and apertures of each character affords more breathing space, aiding legibility. The face has a spartan elegance, (e.g. the single storey lowercase g) and its distinctive ascenders and open narrow characters ease recognition. It’s a beautiful typeface which is more versatile and works alongside our pan-BBC design framework.”

Bruno Maag, the founder and chairman of Dalton Maag, explains how the type foundry “worked closely with stakeholders from right across the BBC and gained a solid understanding of the needs and values of the organisation, and presented numerous options”. The result, “reflects the BBC’s typographic legacy and heralds a contemporary British design aesthetic”.

To coincide with the new typeface, the BBC have also redesigned BBC Sport in a “joint commission from BBC marketing, UX and TV Graphics teams, the project involved BBC Creative — the BBC’s in-house agency — and design agency Studio Output,” the BBC explains. “It includes a brand new logo, font, colour palette and a modular system which enables us to deliver text in a more consistent and elegant way across all platforms. The new logo animation with its shadow line device underpins the whole brand, acting as a catalyst for the delivery data and information. BBC Creative has also delivered a suite of 3D motion backgrounds, which will be a key feature of the new identity.”

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