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Fontsmith develops font solutions for many well-known brands. A unique and distinctive font is integral to a brand’s make up and becomes part of who you are. We design and develop fonts, logos and licencing solutions for customers from all over the world. Our services range from simple advice and support to full bespoke typeface creation. Our typefaces are unique and exclusive to us and our work encompasses everything from traditional to contemporary.

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British Gas

A key component of CHI & Partners’ brand evolution for British Gas, a modified FS Hackney helped to humanise Britain’s largest energy supplier.

Related services

  • Font modification

Brief

Britain’s largest energy supplier British Gas was working with CHI & Partners to evolve an already strong British brand, and take them into the future. With confidence in the utilities sector low, they wanted to connect with consumers by becoming more friendly, approachable and human and needed a new typeface to support their repositioning. Following a redesign in 2011 they wanted to keep the same logo so the new font needed to compliment it perfectly.

Large organisations like British Gas need simple brand guidelines which are easy for all employees to follow. Their previous brand font had an industrial, technical feel and they needed something more human, fresh and clean for customer communications, their website and ATL advertising. Evolving a new visual identity and developing a new font, allowed them to create a distinctive, ownable framework to present themselves consistently.

Approach

FS Hackney was a good fit but modifications were needed to align with British Gas’s language refresh. We created some possible variations, focusing on characters which can have a more of playful nature like the ‘a’, ‘g’, ‘r’, ‘i’ and ‘t’, to introduce a friendlier tone. The client needed the typeface to work on their billing documents where space is limited, so tests were carried out to condense FS Hackney, carefully balancing space against legibility and design. The weights, widths, and angles were adjusted and curves added to the terminals to give a new flavour. And by modifying curves of open letters like the ‘c’ and ‘s’, opening up the ‘y’ and rebalancing the x-height we were able to increase legibility at smaller text sizes.

The curved terminals and shape of the flame in the logo were explored and incorporated into the design. A slightly lighter weight was developed for online use to compliment gentle warm language and shorter more straightforward messaging on their website. Legibility is not just about the typeface but also weight, colour and context. By holding a workshop with the client we were able to explain the intricacies of the typeface and how it should be used.

Results

The new typeface was named BG Flame. It strikes the right balance between being bold and warm and works across the variety of communications that British Gas needed to deliver, from more serious letters to loyalty reward emails. The open counters and fluid edges compliment their new tone-of-voice, providing personality, warmth and character. It is friendly and honest in feel, while maintaining a degree of formality for more serious messages. FS Hackney was the perfect starting point and by modifying it to create something bespoke we were able to align with British Gas’s new positioning objectives and compliment the existing logo.

The Brandfont® licence worked for British Gas due to its simplicity and cost effectiveness. By covering all possible uses of the typeface in a one off fee the client was able to avoid the risk of future charges for apps, different subdomains, increased site visitors, or giving the font to third party suppliers.

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