The Brand Identity

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Order join forces with Sharp Type in their rigorous typographic identity for Williams College

In an exhibition of contextual typography, Massachusetts’ own Williams College has been rebranded with a typographically-led identity designed by Brooklyn-based design office Order in collaboration with Sharp Type – a digital type foundry that also calls New York City their home. With their working relationship blossoming in 2015 when they worked together on a typeface for Hillary Clinton, Co-founder of Order Jesse Reed remarks on the candid nature in which Lucas Sharp [Sharp Type] joined the project. “We just so happened to be emailing about something totally unrelated,” Reed tells us, “I casually asked if he’d be interested in seeing this treasure trove of type specimens that I gathered at Williams a week or so earlier,” making and presenting a short PDF to the foundry before they swiftly came on board. 

The outcome of this collaboration is a bespoke and extensive typographic family titled Eph, implemented within a unique identity that thrives in its fluidity – other than the use of Eph Slab as the headline typeface. “The more rules we thought of, the more limiting and complicated the whole system became,” Reed recalls, resulting in a brand that can allow itself freedom and character due to the technical rigour of the typefaces. 

“The biggest challenge was balancing consistency with individuality,” Reed remarks, discussing the issues behind the voluminous type family. “We made a tonne of micro-decisions about serif relationships and alternate characters,” Reed adds, “but I’d say the Slab, Serif, and Gothic came together really naturally,” finding themselves “swooning” after only a few typographic tests. “Lucas and Connor [Sharp Type] absolutely nailed every detail,” he adds, “it couldn’t have come out more flawlessly.”

In the end, Williams College’s identity is unapologetic – it is loud and avoidant of minimalism at all costs, approaching things maximally when it can. This is successfully achieved through Order’s considerate, astute and audacious application, as well as the comprehensive type family. “What I love about Sharp is their expertise in large families,” Reed explains, “they understand how different styles can be connected, while forming their own personalities,” concluding, “that’s exactly what we needed for this project.”

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