Nokia's new typeface: designed to work in any language

Nokia and typography design group Dalton Maag have created a typeface that crosses borders and languages effortlessly.
Written by Beth Carter, Contributing Editor on

Nokia, once a trailblazer in the world of mobile phones, has been faced with a burgeoning smartphone market and has seen a decline in its market share. Other than launching a whole new line of phones, the Finnish company is making efforts to reinvent and revitalize the brand. One seemingly small adjustment they are making is sure to have a big impact, allowing the global corporation to more easily flow between borders, across languages and internally: they've introduced a new typeface.

It's not just any font, though. Nokia Pure, designed by British typographers Dalton Maag, is a multinational font, meaning that it works with script. A universal font seems logical to the point that it's puzzling that no one had done this yet. Nokia sells devices in over 150 countries, and the font will not only help the brand maintain its global identity but keep its reputation of quality design intact.

Nokia Pure is central to the new branding and is integral to the new phones' user interfaces and corporate communications. According to the designers, the new font came about because the existing font was dated and visually dominating.

The new font was commissioned (though they worked in tandem with the in-house Nokia design team) in order to unite Nokia's various departments. The new font family also had to reflect the traditions of Finnish design that Nokia was built on: "simplicity, clarity, functionality and beauty of form."

And, to follow along the unifying theme, it needed to support languages that use the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew alphabets, as well the Devanagari and Thai scripts-- Chinese and others followed soon after the initial designs.

The starting point for the new font was Latin, the most widely used script natively, by around two billion people worldwide. The designers then had to make the font readable on multiple mobile devices, that because of their small screens, don't allow for many design flourishes and simplicity is key.

The complex scripts came later, after the designers conducted research into the the history of the scripts-- they even practiced calligraphy-- that helped the understand the construction and cadence of the scripts in question. The result is a font based on the idea of seamless and fluid motion.

“First and foremost, the typeface is extremely legible wherever you happen to see it,” says Bruno Maag of Dalton Maag in Nokia's release regarding the font. “Nokia Pure is contemporary without being fashionable, which should give it longevity. It’s one thing drawing a beautiful letter, but another making a whole set work to a high quality. A coherent typeface is an essential part of a coherent branding strategy."

Dalton Maag created what they call "a new visual language" that can span different media and scripts, making a "distinctive and sustainable typographically-driven brand."

All in all, the font was created to move a brand forward, helping it compete in a market where its go-to products are losing ground to smartphone companies. The unity of the typeface is meant to represent a new unity in Nokia's gigantic global company-- unity through design. Everyone still remembers their first indestructible Nokia brick, let's hope their new phones are as forward thinking as their new typeface.

Dalton Maag recently won the Design Museum Designs of the Year 2012 award in the Graphics Category for Nokia Pure.

Images: Dalton Maag, Nokia

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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