The client wanted an “ultra modern” typeface. The design brief said the finished product should be “futuristic without being gimmicky or ephemeral.” The result was the Neo® Sans design. An “extended” typeface family, Neo Sans and Neo Tech were designed to encompass readability and have a futuristic demeanor.
Typeface designer, Sebastian Lester, began working the design when Monotype Imaging was approached by a large branding agency to develop a custom typeface for one of its clients. However, the agency ultimately changed its mind. “I was left with a sketchbook full of ideas and research and thought it would be a shame not to see what came of them,” Lester said. Lester’s initial research told him that the design foundation for an ultra modern typeface should have a simplicity of character structure: a monoline form, open character shapes and smooth curves. Lester decided that the best approach to ensure a futuristic design was to amplify these qualities. About a year after the initial conceptual work, two highly functional and versatile typefaces emerged. The Neo Sans of typefaces is designed to evoke a decidedly modern impression, while the Neo Tech family is slightly more minimalist and pushes the futuristic tone even further. Lester describes the designs as “legible without being neutral, nuanced without being fussy and expressive without being distracting.” Monotype Imaging released the complete Neo suite of typefaces in 2004. The goal for Neo Sans was that it would become one of the “new classics” and an example of the adaptability and talent of the Monotype Imaging design team. The design has grown far beyond its original intent as a family to underpin a brand. Collectively, the Neo families are a broad and versatile suite of typefaces that have proved themselves as powerful tools in a variety of uses.
Intel commissioned the creation of a custom Neo font, Neo Sans Intel, for its rebranding in 2005. The British Labour Party has also used the font in branding and advertising, as have Kia Motors, Virgin Trains and the UK ITV network. The sleek Neo design also appealed to the Valve Corp., which used the typeface for its 2010 Alien Swarm freeware game.
Neo Sans was selected as the official typeface for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The Vancouver Organizing Committee chose Neo Sans because of its timeless, modern quality. The committee’s brand and creative services vice president, Ali Gardner, stated that Neo Sans was chosen “because it felt contemporary and would represent Canada as a modern, progressive country.”