Little Troop find inspiration in vintage board games and cereal boxes for their Le Puzz identity
From packaging and illustration to web design and art direction, Brooklyn and Melbourne-based design studio Little Troop’s identity for puzzle company Le Puzz is comprehensive, to say the least. Audacious, lively and colourful, the identity embodies the ecstatic character of Le Puzz’s founders Michael Hunter and Alistair Matthews, as well as the wild, weird and wonderful vintage puzzles of the mid-to-late 20th Century that inspired the company’s creation.
The identity system is directly influenced by the graphic language of vintage board games and cereal box design, resulting in a nostalgic and sentimental tone of voice. “We had a really fun time working out ways to bring the games to life through illustration,” Creative Director and Co-founder Noemie Le Coz tells us, “creating a really wide range of odd little moments, from grumpy apples to giant matchbooks.”
This unavoidable sense of frivolity is also conveyed through Little Troop’s colour palette of choice, for which they opted for warm yellow as the primary hue. “The tone of Le Puzz as a brand is really optimistic and happy,” Le Coz notes, “and yellow, in almost every culture, represents these things most.” “There's also a default feeling to it which we loved, and a neutrality that allows the puzzle artwork to really pop,” she adds, “it ticked all the boxes!”
Much of the approachability and vintage sensibilities behind the brand are a result of its typographic choices. This includes the brand’s impactful logomark, the inspiration for which was found in a now-defunct wood-manufactured typeface called Winchester. “We found it deep on Flickr,” Le Coz explains, “it draws similarities to the commonly-known Champion Gothic, but we loved its imperfect oddities and quirks,” she adds, wanting a friendly mark that would immediately grab the attention of passersby. “We first presented it as ‘The Chunky, Changing One,’ and Le Puzz immediately gravitated towards the letterforms moving around like puzzle pieces,” Le Coz explains. “We tweaked each letter to perfectly align in width so that it worked as an ever-changing, playful mark,” she recalls, a device grounded by the consistent use of modified Helvetica Neue and Times Now as the supporting typefaces, tributing the soft tone and unconventional typography of vintage printed ephemera.
“To mimic that feeling, we knew we wanted a type system with loads of flexibility and potential for customisation,” Le Coz explains, while also being recognisable and fundamentally ownable as an aesthetic, resulting in the customisation of the weights and widths of both typefaces. “We chose Helvetica and Times for their default feel and dryness,” she tells us, using these as “blank, conventional canvases to take and re-work in our own, unconventional way.”