It isn’t adored by fairly as many younger followers as different riders of the present geo-sans wave — typefaces like GT Walsheim, LL Brown, and LL Circular — however FF Mark is without doubt one of the extra well-liked releases of the final three years, and it’s selecting up steam. You see it in industries from tech to editorial, in print and on the internet. As a plain, clear sans with a reasonable x-height it really works moderately effectively in most of those environments, but it’s usually referred to as to do jobs it’s probably not meant to do: particularly pages full of light body copy the place the design’s uniform stroke and letter widths paint a reasonably drab monotone.
This major redesign for Mastercard, nevertheless, is strictly the sort of mission FF Mark was skilled for. Pentagram started by refocusing on the enduring interlocking image, now practically 50 years previous, properly clearing it of its litter and transferring the identify to the aspect or under. The brand new round typeface clearly echoes the image’s geometry, however it’s not nearly circles: FF Mark’s different traits match effectively too — its broad stance, open kinds (‘s’ and ‘c’), the roundness of the ‘m’ arches and ‘t’ tail.
This redesign is just not a lot a revolution for Mastercard as a callback to the perfect brand of the model’s previous. In 1979, “MasterCard” was set in ITC Avant Garde Gothic, stamped boldly over the middle of the circles. This was changed in 1990 by an ill-advised italic which was later affected by a drop shadow in typical ’90s vogue. Going again to a geometrical sans serif is a no brainer, however Avant Garde is moderately chilly and closed. Switching to all-lowercase FF Mark refreshes the banal company presentation with a extra approachable air.
As we will count on from an skilled agency like Pentagram, the brand and sort harmonize naturally. The designers resist the urge to rationalize the geometry by way of some contrived construction grid. And all of the work is thoughtfullly applied in quite a lot of environments the place bite-size chunks of kind mix with giant photographs and the overlapping circle motif.
These teaser photographs for the brand new identification got here out fairly properly. It’s strong work. Not thrilling, however as contemporary a glance as you’ll be able to count on from a multinational cost community. The query stays, nevertheless: Will FF Mark be the one a part of the typographic palette for this new identification? Will it’s used to set lengthy passages of textual content? Will it’s pushed past its objective? We’ll have to attend for the reply as a result of the redesign was simply introduced as we speak. (Mastercard.com continues to be set in Accord Alternate, a 2010 face that already feels dated, maybe as a result of it piggybacks on the well-worn spurless idea from 20 years ago.)
I hope this teaser video is just not a sign of FF Mark’s meant function, as a result of a few of these screens make all the commonest geo-sans errors: a lightweight weight, spaced manner too tightly, for all the textual content on the web page. A monetary providers firm striving for readability and ease ought to take the readability of mundane data as severely as its brand.
At its core, this can be a sturdy mark, returning Mastercard to its former glory, by emphasizing not the identify, however the image: a few unmistakable dots that shine your technique to a store door, even from throughout the road.