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Underpin and reinvigorate Sainsbury’s new ‘live well for less’ campaign with a soft, amiable and multi-purpose typeface design.

Related services

  • Font modification


Founded by John James Sainsbury in 1869, Sainsbury’s is one of the UK’s largest and leading supermarket chains. In 2013, strategic brand consultancy Landor Associates, contacted Fontsmith to discuss the visual identity of the ‘live well for less’ campaign which was being updated to reflect positioning and new personality attributes. A key part of the visual identity was the development of a new multi-purpose font family to replace the existing wide range of fonts being used.

The end goal was to have a unique easy to use and flexible font, capable of answering a diverse range of requirements. Our FS Lola typeface provided a solid starting place for modification in creating Sainsbury’s new brand font.


The new font needed to successfully stretch across a wide range of channels including above the line marketing, online, publications, packaging, in-store services, in-store navigation and in-store pricing. The new typeface also had to work at the large scale of 400pt all the way down to smaller sizes of 6pt.

We started our design process by softening the slab serif design to create an overall feeling of softness throughout the alphabet. We worked with high frequency brand words to ensure consistency of character and implemented some subtle adjustments of form to improve legibility for in-store way-finding. Sainsbury’s had previously used a slab-serif numeral font for in-store pricing which had proven to be successful. We retained this slab character in the new fonts but also ensured a consistency of design with the upper and lowercase letterforms.


We soon acknowledged during the design process that a narrow or condensed version of one of the fonts would be required to best serve the nutritional information graphics of each food product. Fontsmith developed this narrow version of the typeface in order to deliver a greater level of detail to the typographic coherence in the brand.

The new Mary Ann font family (named after founder John James Sainsbury’s wife, Mary Ann Sainsbury) is now implemented across over 1,000 stores on Sainsbury’s own food and product packaging. It is also used on in-store signage providing a familiar and friendly brand continuity throughout all stores in the UK.

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“Fontsmith are inspiring, creative, professional and rigorous every step of the way. They are the perfect collaborators in creating typographic identity elements that express a brand and its personality. Mary Ann has given Sainsbury’s a distinctive visual asset that reflects its positioning and can be used on every platform creating great levels of consistency. Working with Jason, Phil and the team is always a pleasure.”

— Ryan Shaw, Design Director, Landor Associates
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