Most readers are likely to glance over Brandon Text without much notice. It doesn’t quite share the graphic punch of its ancestor Brandon Grotesque, which earned Hannes von Döhren the TDC award back in 2011, yet neither does it share its genetics with other type systems of the same category. That’s because this typeface is one of many possible answers to several very interesting questions.
What happens when you optically correct geometric typefaces for smaller sizes? Will you have to forego any quirks and eccentricities of more geometrically pure counterparts? Secondly, von Döhren intended this design to “possess a certain softness and warmth”, so how might you civilize those classically mechanical forms of previous efforts without reducing the flavor of their geometry?
We can see the results of these questions by examining the tighter, more cursive letterforms (such as the italic). Additionally, it’s clear how this typeface maintains its subtle charm even in small print, or as citations and text lying in the margins. Rather than fighting for pole position, Brandon Text prefers to take the role of the sturdy workhorse, casting aside many of the difficulties of setting text alongside hefty geometric display typefaces, while also keeping things visually consistent. Consequently, this typeface satisfies those initial questions as it sits among bold, typographic strangers without much cause for celebration.
If Brandon Grotesque is not bold enough for titling purposes, you can bring in alternative display faces such as Telefon and the text will amicably share the same space with ease. But as the microsite suggests, Brandon Text has more than enough interesting characteristics to make it suitable for pleasing subheadings, too. Although many designs miss the peculiarities of their origins, this typeface is certainly not one of them.
A recurring disappointment of setting type on the web is seeing poor translations of families that were originally designed for print. Thankfully this is not the case here, yet the efforts in manually hinting and optimizing for screens are as likely to go unnoticed as the individual letters themselves. Designing text faces of this sort, then, is not a suitable profession for those in search of glory or prestige.
Robin Rendle is a freelance typographer and front-end developer from the UK.