Decade’s identity for Playboy turns it from notorious editorial platform to digital consumer brand
Taking on the challenge of reimagining Playboy after the closure of its magazine in 2021, NYC-based design studio Decade have provided strength, system and stability to the famed company through a comprehensive rebrand; capturing its transition from notorious editorial platform to digital consumer brand. Leading with the legacy of the historic publication, Decade partnered with NYC neighbours and foundry Commercial Type to craft a bespoke headline typeface for the identity, continuing the exact lettering from the magazine’s iconic masthead. In application, the resulting typeface combines effortlessly with colour, imagery and iconography; providing creative ease and flexibility to the in-house and external teams set to use it.
Supporting Playboy’s bespoke typeface is the striking sans and serif double act – Heldane by Klim Type Foundry and Lineto’s Supreme. Alongside the iconic wordmark, this combination forms the backbone of Playboy’s accessible, fluid graphic system. “The Playboy logo is a slab serif, so we wanted to accent with both a serif and sans,” Co-founders Grace Robinson-Leo and Rob Matthews tell us, turning to the classic and contemporary history of the brand’s printed issues. Noting the common thread throughout, they explain, “there was the classic mix of a Futura and a Garamond or Plantin-style serif feels editorial,” adding, “and a more playful or more elevated typeface, depending on the application.” This variety plays directly into the hands of the brand’s multiple outlets.
“Playboy has a lot of use cases for the identity, so we wanted a system that the in-house team could flex to fit different types of communications,” Robinson-Leo and Matthews recall, suggesting, “an ad around lingerie might lean more on Heldane,” whilst “an ad for back-to-school apparel might lean more on Supreme and feel bolder,” offering the flexibility needed when combined. “Both of these fonts are extremely well drawn,” they two add, “there is almost no way to set them improperly, which is something we look for when we select fonts for a large brand,” conscious that – due to the brand’s scale – the identity would be applied by multiple designers.