IBM Is Designing A New Typeface To Demonstrate The Brand’s Values
Mike Abbink set out to create a new font for IBM that reflected the company's many achievements and history
Did you know that Helvetica, one of the most commonly used fonts, was created back in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger? While it remains a widely adopted font, technology company IBM has decided to stop using it and instead develop a new font to freshen up its brand identity. Through a rigorous process, IBM’s executive creative director Mike Abbink was able to develop a new typeface called IBM Plex.
To learn how to create an ideal typeface that reflected IBM, Abbink delved into the company’s archives to research its history and learn what made it unique from the start. The company contains over a hundred years of rich history from the United States’ Great Depression and both World Wars. Abbink and his team took notice of what IBM was turning into following the second World War where it reviewed the company’s logo prior to them settling on the eight-bar one they have presently.
For the team, what stuck out the most from the older logos was the way the letters were structured and how they were drawn. Normally, the letters of IBM get outlined and look the same with every stroke. The logo that was introduced in 1947 had small mistakes, with the letter ‘M’ having more characteristics than the ‘I’ or the ‘B’. To them, they felt a person had gone out of their way to draw the letter and it wasn’t something digitally typed out. They wanted to bring back this unique look.
On IBM’s YouTube page, it released a video series documenting Abbink’s approach to the IBM Plex called “Eye On”. It released the first episode on Dec 16, 2016 and released the second one on Oct 24, 2017. The second episode was broken down into six individual videos, but it also made one long 21 minute video.
IBM plans to launch IBM Plex sometime in early 2018 with a Beta available to anyone interested in testing out the current finish of the typeface.