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Neo® Sans

By Monotype

The branding agency's client wanted an ultra modern"" typeface that was ""futuristic without being gimmicky or ephemeral,"" according to the design brief. Designer Sebastian Lester took on this intriguing custom font assignment, but soon, a bureaucratic decision cancelled the project.

""I was left with a sketchbook full of ideas and thought it would be a shame not to see what came of them,"" says Lester. He decided to finish the design on his own.

Lester's research confirmed that the principal ingredient of an ""ultra modern"" typeface was simplicity of character structure: a carefully drawn, monoline form, open letter shapes and smooth, strong curves. To conceive a typeface that crossed the line from modern to futuristic, Lester decided to amplify these qualities.

About a year after Lester's initial conceptual work, two highly functional and versatile typefaces emerged. These are Neo Sans and Neo Tech, designs Lester describes as ""legible without being neutral, nuanced without being fussy, and expressive without being distracting.""

Both the Neo Sans and the more-minimalist Neo Tech families are available in six weights, ranging from Light to Ultra. Each has a companion italic, and Neo Tech offers a suite of alternate characters.

While engineered to look modern as tomorrow, Neo Sans and Neo Tech display the functional and aesthetic excellence that earns them a place in the list of classic designs from the Monotype typeface library.

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.

References:
Monotype: Neo Sans
I Love Typography: An Interview With Seb Lester
Identifont: Neo Sans

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.”

Sans Serif
Geometric Sans
#14 in Best Sellers