Fontsmith is now part of the Monotype Studio. The Monotype Studio offers a suite of services that help the world’s leading brands design, define and express their voice through type. From custom and modified type design, to helping brands expand into new global territories without breaking their brand system, our experts help you determine how to make type an impactful part of your brand strategy.
Mencap collaborated with Fontsmith in the research and development of a new typeface design to create a benchmark for accessible design and legibility in their branded communications.
Mencap is the UK’s leading charity for people with a learning disability. They provide high quality, flexible services that allow people to live as independently as possible in a place they choose. They provide advice and campaign for the changes that people with a learning disability want.
Mencap and Rare Corporate Design approached Fontsmith as they wanted to develop a bespoke font family to reflect their brand. They relished the opportunity to create a ‘benchmark’ in terms of typeface design and legibility.
We began with a lengthy consultative process with a diverse research group to of people suffering from various learning disabilities at Mencap. This determined their typographic preferences and drove the design of this typeface.
Different styles of serif, sans serif and handwritten fonts were examined in all sizes, colours and texts to get a sense of preference, both aesthetically and in terms of readability. Having honed in on the potential attributes for the font, it was clear that distinctly warm and unique letter shapes were preferred, as were shapes that avoided the pitfalls of appearing too childlike. Fontsmith refined the design to aid legibility and maximise accessibility.
A great deal of care was taken with the positive/negative space of the letters and how much leading was applied in text. As further versions were assessed by the research group, we began to pinpoint particular problem words and letters so small tweaks were made to achieve balance between recognisable letterforms and legibility to the reader.
We sought instinctive responses to width, weight and spacing, and paid attention to details such as the length of ascenders and descenders. We customised each letter to make it standout and improve recognition, resulting in FS Me – a benchmark in accessible typeface design.
FS Me is a tool to assist in Mencap’s vision of a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included.
“The work we do is innovative so we wanted to position ourselves as more of a leader in the learning disability community. To have our own typeface that’s properly crafted not to mention beautiful is amazing. Being able to say we’ve included people with learning disability in our design process is absolutely vital for our staff, to be engaged by it, to be proud of it.”— Nina Clarke, Creative Manager, Mencap