Behind the design: crafting a unified typeface for modern Britain.

As part of our revitalisation of the ITV brand, we partnered with F37 Foundry to create a fresh typeface family that captures the essence of modern Britain. Inspired by the unique charm of F37 Zagma, a hybrid sans typeface, we set out to forge a typographic system that exudes modernity and personality, tailor-made for the ITV brand. The result? Three distinct yet complementary font styles – Serif, Sans, and Sans Text – that embody familiarity, memorability, and, most importantly, accessibility and legibility.

Join us as we delve into a conversation with the F37 team, exploring the creative process, intricate details, and challenges in bringing this innovative typeface to life.

What was the challenge and focus of the project?

Finding a cohesive Sans and Serif family style will always be a big challenge, as you are marrying up two inherently very different styles. The goal for ITV was to have a relationship between the Sans and Serif that was obvious but also could be used to provide tonal contrast when used together.

Another challenge was managing the relationship between ITV’s needs for accessibility and our own formal understanding of accessibility from our study and practice. And further to arrive at a final product that didn’t feel like accessibility was only superficially layered over the design but rather baked right into the process from the start.

Identifying the unique characteristics and opportunities.
Examining where the DNA of the ITV ‘X’ can have influence.

Can you tell us about your approach?

Our starting point for development was the ‘X’ from the new ITVX logo, which DixonBaxi had created for ITV. This ‘X’ had distinct visual DNA we could take inspiration from, notably the tapering and radius. We incorporated radiuses into the channel numbers and used tapering in the sans display font — subtly in the standard character set and more overtly in the alternate character set.

Our approach has always been to start with broad idea generation in early development. This is to gain as much understanding between us, the client and the brief as possible. We then dive deep into the chosen route to again provide as wide a range as possible within the new constraints. This oscillation between deep dive and broadening development is repeated several times. This process allows everyone involved as much creative input in the final product and as much accuracy as the client’s initial expectations.

Our inspiration is always informed by the tension and dynamic created by our diverse interests in type design within the team. Some of us are fascinated by history and looking back to what has worked; others are more interested in experimental type design pushing the boundaries, and others are interested in technology and font engineering to ensure everything works as it should.

Early sketches of the channel number in context of the ITVX brand system.
Details and iterations of the 4 numeral.

“Developing a typeface family that seamlessly combines accessibility and distinctive personality is a true art. We aimed to capture the vibrant diversity and eclecticism of modern Britain while offering a broad visual range for expression, ultimately creating a typographic system that speaks to the heart of the nation and resonates with the creative spirit.”

Jed Carter, design director

How does the typographic system reflect and connect modern Britain?

The diversity of Modern Britain is reflected in the variety of the ITV typographic system. A system comprising three distinct but complementary styles, Serif, Sans and Sans Text.

The Serif draws on some of Britain’s historical greats like William Caslon’s foundry (1692–1766 — reflecting Britain’s unavoidable link to the past.)

The Display Sans is a crisp and modern Neo-Grotesque with a few idiosyncratic anomalies, such as the lowercase’ g’ and alternates that are too flamboyant for all uses but perfect for others — reflecting the diversity found in Britain today.

Finally, the sans-text style is the workhorse of the pack, designed with unapologetic utilitarianism, mixing both Neo-Grotesque and Humanist elements to bolster its legibility at small sizes. 

All these styles are equipped with a range of weights and widths too. Together the ITV Type Family provides the necessary variety to match the tonal spectrum of entertainment that Britain consumes. A combination considerably lacking in ITV’s previous corporate type, ‘ITV Reem’.

Testing legibility and accessibility on screen and in print.
Details of the typeface and system guidelines.

Can you speak to the inclusivity inherent in this typeface and its significance?

Inclusivity in the type family manifested as a strong focus on accessibility. Making sure the type itself was doing all it could to not hinder any person’s ability to interact with the words and sentences without obstacles. We worked closely with DixonBaxi and ITV’s accessibility team to ensure all of our expertise could be utilised.

Take a deeper look at the design here.

The typeface stretches across the entire experience.
In action as part of campaigns.
Details of the guidelines.
The full set of channel numbers with the tapered DNA from the X.
Hardworking on the ITVX streaming platform.