Handpicked Typefaces

Awarded: Brando

August 04, 2015 by
Yves Peters
Yves Peters

Another typeface to receive a Certificate of Excellence in Typeface Design at TDC 2015 was Mike Abbink’s Brando, which was also a Judge’s Choice. It is published under the Bold Monday banner, the Dutch type foundry of Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen. Abbink is the designer of the hugely popular FF Kievit® and FF Milo® which are gradually being expanded into super families.

There is something about Mike Abbink’s curves. Well, not literally his curves, but the ones he draws in his letters. Abbink somehow always manages to strike a delicate, elusive balance in the letter forms of his commercially released families. Just take a look at his FontFont typefaces FF Kievit® and FF Milo® (and their respective related families) – they combine rational efficiency with friendliness, versatility with personality. It is as if the letters talk to you in a confident and straightforward, yet at the same time reassuring and warm voice. This combination of formal/informal properties is very valuable in modern typography, as it allows individuals and businesses to communicate in a professional way without coming across as cold and distant. The beauty of typography is that the shapes of characters send a subliminal message along with the text. Even if readers don’t consciously pick up the specific characteristics of fonts, they feel them subconsciously. And people notice, because Abbink’s type families prove to be very popular.

Quote from Marlon Brando’s legendary improvised monologue in _Apocalypse Now,_ directed Francis Ford Coppola (1979)
Quote from Marlon Brando’s legendary improvised monologue in Apocalypse Now, directed Francis Ford Coppola (1979)

Inspired by old style typefaces like Garamond, the open counters contribute to Brando’s flair, and are a nice foil to the more sturdy forms.
Inspired by old style typefaces like Garamond, the open counters contribute to Brando’s flair, and are a nice foil to the more sturdy forms.

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Mike Abbink continues his winning streak with Brando, and has been awarded almost right out of the gate with both a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design and Dino dos Santos’ Judge’s Choice at TDC 2015, the latest edition of the Type Directors Club of New York annual typeface design competition. Again, Mike Abbink does with Brando what he did so well with his previous releases – exploring the balance between mechanical and humanist forms and proportions, this time in a contemporary slab serif family that finds the perfect middle-ground between competent and casual.

Ligatures add a touch of sophistication and class to your typography. Brando goes beyond the standard set and includes a few extras.
Ligatures add a touch of sophistication and class to your typography. Brando goes beyond the standard set and includes a few extras.

Originally inspired by a proposal for a bank logotype, the design was subsequently developed into a robust font family. The balance that Brando achieves is found in the careful interaction of rigid and fluid strokes – the subtly bracketed serifs and almost imperceptibly rounded corners in strategic places soften the rigid straight lines and guide the eye along the relaxed curves. Together with the generous x-height, modestly-sized capitals and open character shapes they lend Brando a contemporary, sturdy appearance.

As typefaces need more characters and accents to service a global audience, each font in the Brando family comprises almost 700 glyphs to cover forty languages.
As typefaces need more characters and accents to service a global audience, each font in the Brando family comprises almost 700 glyphs to cover forty languages.

The Brando family comes in eight weights from Hairline to Black, all with matching italics for a total of sixteen styles. The lightest weights assume the shape of almost monoline, elegant slab serifs, slightly reminiscent of typewriter faces. When the weight increases, so does the contrast. This lends the letters just the right amount of stress to create text with a pleasant and even grey value, and guarantees a comfortable reading experience. The heavy weights are deliciously dark, almost chunky. The supple italics are very interesting without being showy, somewhere between obliques and true italics.

Even though the italic letter forms are based on cursive handwriting, making them true italics, the double serifs at the bottom of characters like ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’ et al are reminiscent of obliques. Blending these two approaches results in a modern italic that is both fluid and sturdy.
Even though the italic letter forms are based on cursive handwriting, making them true italics, the double serifs at the bottom of characters like ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’ et al are reminiscent of obliques. Blending these two approaches results in a modern italic that is both fluid and sturdy.

The number of weights ensures that Brando can be used for a wide range of applications. The family feels equally at home in display settings as in body text use. The character set features everything needed for contemporary typographic systems in editorial and identity design – small caps, an expanded ligature set, all the figure styles, fractions and mathematical symbols, and coverage for over forty languages.

All 16 Brando styles. Monologue from _On The Waterfront,_ directed by Elia Kazan (1954)
All 16 Brando styles. Monologue from On The Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan (1954)

Trademark Attribution Notice
Kievit and Milo are trademarks of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. FF is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. </sub