Visiting the city of Stuttgart in South-West Germany, one non-touristy thing that caught our eyes was an elegant food shop’s visual identity. Schneider Metzgerei is a small, quality-conscious chain of meat shops, doubling as lunch restaurants, in and around the city. I was charmed by the way they used a little known contemporary typeface, not only for the logo but also for longer texts – on signs, printed matter, and their website. The typeface is Avory from Rosetta Type, designed by Sláva Jevčinová from Slovakia, and inspired by the work of Czech designer Jaroslav Benda —“a lesser-known treasure of mid-century graphic design,” as Rosetta’s website clarifies.
Many advertising and branding agencies approach their typographic choices with a ‘maximum certainty’ attitude. They hope to please their clients, and soothe the clients’ customers, by choosing familiar typefaces. The tendency to replace individual type choices with “modern classic” sans serifs, or recent font families in the same style, has flattened the typographic landscape quite a bit the past years in the corporate area.
Type-savvy agencies, however, are aware that the impact of a brand or identity may be intensified by the personality of its typography. Many are convinced that subtly unorthodox fonts contribute to the charisma of an organization’s identity. The Schneider company chose to work with an agency in their region called b_werk (in the small city of Metzingen), and the company’s design studio does just that: enhancing the client’s visual appeal by using typefaces with a unique character. This will help to fulfill the agency’s objective or, as founder Markus Berger puts it, “… help design a less stressful future by changing the attitudes in communication.”
Chosen by Art Director (and type specialist) Alexander Haas, Avory is a gently condensed sans that challenges convention without sacrificing readability. Sláva Jevčinová developed the treasure that was Benda’s hand-lettering into a full-fledged typographic power tool: nine weights of romans and italics, with small caps, a wide range of symbols, and additional Greek and Cyrillic character sets. As Rosetta testifies, “It finds itself on the expressive end of the spectrum – features like the low optical center and wide horizontal crossbars give it an unmistakable appearance. Tall, with broad shoulders, easily spotted from afar.” And that is exactly what a true, smart graphic identity is about.