Typeface designers Robbie de Villiers and Jeremy Dooley collaborated back in the fall of 2011 to create a new typeface to brand Chattanooga, TN. The project went live on kickstarter and reached its goal earlier this year.
Why a typeface for a city? Just like branding a city, a specific typeface for a location can help people who don't live there get a visual for what the city is about. For Chattanooga, Robbie and Jeremy wanted to make their font attract the city's growing design community, envoke the budding entrepreneur scene and give a deserved nod to the small but impressive music culture.
Some say you need to live there to really get a grasp on what a city is all about. Sure, this is the best way of feeling the vibe of the city, but what if you don't live there? What if you've never seen more than a few photos on the internet? How can you really know the culture, the hustle and bustle, or even the nightlife if you've never been there? How can a city market itself? Simple. Its design.
The job of a designer is to communicate a message. If you go on your day not noticing anything strange, then the designer has done their job. They haven't gone overboard, they have simply fit the puzzle pieces together and solved the design problem. They weren't trying to be too designy, or invasive, but the message was clear.
What happens when design does more than that? Robbie and Jeremy went above and beyond to create something that carries a voice along with it. The type designers of Chattanooga, TN have done something wonderful; they have created a new typeface specific to Chattanooga, that is now being used on everything from street signs to letterheads and all of the things we never realized could have branding potential in-between.
Imagine Your City With Branded Signage
Most people go on their days without noticing the impact of a typeface. Subconsciously, each and every font evokes an emotion and a personality that we respond to on a deeply emotional level. When you go to Venice Italy, you hope to experience the culture, seeing store signs that inspire you to try their Italian delicacies. A tourist would be sorely disappointed without realizing it, if they saw signage all in English that looked exactly like their home town's. This is what makes Chattanooga's own typeface so brilliant; they have now create a feeling you cannot experience anywhere else, simply with the use of their own custom font. The city is sprite with new developments and booming culture. What these type designers have done is create a beautiful, approachable new typeface that perfectly matches the new energy of Chattanooga. You can check out their whole story on chatype.
You may think, "It's not that hard to make a typeface". Surely the designer just sketches out a few letters they think are pretty and call it a day. But it is much more than that. Its a process that takes months of tediously measuring out line widths, spacing between letters, delicately tweaking the minutia so that you, the viewer, has a legible and enjoyable experience with the letters.
So how do people see us here, in Philadelphia? Are we seen for nothing more than Rocky and cheesesteaks? Certainly Philly is on the rise of a cultural and developmental boom. So what do we have to show for it? Everyone loves Philly for being the underdog, but there comes a time when the underdog needs to rise above the expectations, and you can feel it in the air here everyday. Beautiful design is erupting everywhere. From Northern Liberties and Fishtown, to Queen Village and Old City; each neighborhood has its own distinct flavor that is unique. It is the combined uniqueness of all of Philly's neighborhoods that is going to put Philly back on the map more than just Rocky and cheesesteaks.