Afficionados of bicycle racing, especially of the Grand Tour, will be well-acquainted with the family name in the headline of this post. Founded by Émile Mercier in 1919, Cycles Mercier became an important manufacturer of racing bikes from 1930 on. The brand pulled up its own cycling team which became world famous in the 1960s and 70s, with athletes like Raymond Poulidor, Cyrille Guimard, and Joop Zoetemelk.
Mercier as a bike manufacturer entered turbulence in the mid 1980s and soon went out of business. But in 2020 the brand Mercier got revived: under the aegis of the founding father’s nephew, Émile Mercier (junior), a new enterprise was established that dedicates itself to the conception and production of high-quality sportswear for cyclists.
The brand design by Yorgo&Co picks up on the formidable history of Mercier and finds clever ways to abridge past and future. At the core are digital revivals of the different logotypes the company used, some of which were original lettering pieces, others just the name set in a certain period typeface. What binds everything together are the three brand colors – rose, white, and purple – that reappear schematically in all products as well as the “Mercier stripe”, and the typeface Proto Grotesk.
Designed by Jean-Baptiste Levée from Production Type, Proto Grotesk was inspired by mid 19th-century sans-serif typefaces, sometimes clunky, sometimes quirky. But it is less of a revival and more of a contemporary proof of concept of how contradictory features can still add up to a harmonious whole and make a strong typeface. Proto Grotesk is used for everything other than the logos, for instance for the website, but also for Mercier’s claim “Bien faire et laisser dire” — which roughly translates to “do your thing and let the others talk”.