Typographic Relaunch for Audi

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Fonts in Use, News | Jürgen Siebert | March 20, 2009

The new 2010 Audi A4 Allroad at the Geneva Motor Show 2009, with the new typography.
If you look closely at some recent print ads from Audi you may discover a subtle typographic restyling. The automotive constructor stopped using the modified Univers Extended called Audi Sans introduced 12 years ago by MetaDesign, and switched to AudiType. MetaDesign – which is responsible for this facelift as well – commissioned Paul van der Laan (Type Invaders) and Pieter van Rosmalen (Caketype) to design the new corporate face for Audi. Both Paul and Pieter studied type design at the KABK (Royal Academy of Arts) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The previous corporate typeface Audi Sans (a modified Univers Extended, top) and the new Audi Type by Paul van der Laan & Pieter van Rosmalen (bottom)
Print ad for Audi Quattro, Switzerland
Neither Audi nor their CI agency have released an official statement about the typographic relaunch yet. Without knowing their exact motivation I think I perceive the politics of baby steps. The foundation, or may we call it the “chassis”, is preserved – character width, grey value, metrics – while the bodywork was refined. And this is very elegant, away from the static towards the dynamic, the high-quality.
: : E D I T : :
Some extra clarification about the new typeface. We have been told that Audi Type was built completely from the ground up. Although its character has indeed been preserved up to a certain point, the character widths and spacing in the new typeface are actually quite different. Normal and Bold are somewhat of a darker colour, and ascenders and descenders are longer than in Univers to guarantee optimal legibility in the smaller point sizes.

One of three covers of the 2008 Annual Report

Detail of the table of contents, from the 2008 Annual Report. Audi Type currently exists in Normal, Bold, Extended Normal, and Extended Bold. Italics are under development, and Greek and Cyrillic will be produced subsequently.

At Typo 2007 MetaDesign’s Carl-Frank Westermann explained in great detail the strategy behind the Audi Sound Branding, specifically the acoustic endings of the commercials. By applying minute interferences in the overtones the MetaDesigners lent a higher quality to the two seconds. This scenario seems to work perfectly well for typography as well.

Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen will launch their new venture Bold Monday in the near future. At Robothon Pieter handed me a set of very nice postcards with sneak previews of the typefaces. More details to follow, and sooner than you might expect.

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  1. Good grief. Like changing the damn typographic-whatever will alter the fact that cars, and the turbocapitalism that drives them (ie. human monkey fear disguised as greed) are actively killing this infinitely precious living planet. The tragedy however is.. that it will. More hypercorporate green-washing in the zombified mind of the modern consumer through ‘nicer’, ‘progressive’, more hip and trendy .biz aesthetics.

    What was it that the mighty Bill Hicks said about Marketeers & Advertisers? “You are Satan’s little helpers, filling the world with bile and garbage [..] kill yourselves.”

    I wouldn’t go that far – but one has to wonder about the complete lack of ecological conscience of those who freely produce this perfumed dross for the Suits. What a waste of obvious talent and artistic vision!

    It’s not newer f’ing ProductTM typefaces we need – it’s a massively expanded human consciousness. Wake up! Please..

    Peace & Awareness


    Posted by Henry Swanson on Mar. 20, 2009
  2. I love the lowercase d. And the font in general looks very ‘go’.

    Posted by Jeff on Mar. 20, 2009
  3. I’m afraid I don’t share your like of the new face. It looks cheaper, and reeks of Verdana. :(

    Maybe it will grow on me?

    Posted by David Oliver on Mar. 21, 2009
  4. Their typeface is the least of their problems. It’s that loser logo composed of four interlocking rings/circles. What is this?

    Posted by christopher webber on Mar. 23, 2009
  5. Why Verdana? There were many others to emulate.

    Posted by Hashim P M on Mar. 24, 2009
  6. I love Audi Sans and will miss it. Even the dash display of my 2005.5 A4 used it. I agree that AudiType looks cheap.

    As for the the four rings, christopher webber, they represent four companies that merged in the 20s. Equating the four rings to a loser logo is like equating the seven olympic rings as a loser logo. WTF?

    Posted by Karen Breen-Bondie on Mar. 25, 2009
  7. It does look very much like Verdana, and therefore way too pedestrian for this brand, I would think.
    I must add, however, that criticism by designers of Tahoma/Verdana is over done, and this type family is actually very well conceived and executed for use on screen at small sizes.

    Posted by Joe Bland on Apr. 8, 2009
  8. I wholeheartedly agree with Henry Swanson. While we go gaga over the new typeface, and it is a very good redo, can we remain totally disengaged from the reality that the automobile has become one of the major problems of our age and even if one can do little about it, one should at least refrain from glorifying it.

    Posted by Sujit Patwardhan on Apr. 9, 2009
  9. Hey Henry and Sujit. I suppose you always walk and never use a car to save the planet :) ?

    Audy Type looks more sport-like… nice work…

    Posted by Richard on Apr. 13, 2009
  10. “criticism by designers of Tahoma/Verdana is over done, and this type family is actually very well conceived and executed for use on screen at small sizes”

    However this is not the situation here. Verdana sucks in print. Use a face designed for print. Not as if there is a shortage.

    “I suppose you always walk and never use a car to save the planet”

    Many of us make that choice, yes, and for that reason (even if it’s only a drop in the ocean of those who don’t care). Henry & Sujit: You’re not alone in recognising the problem.

    Posted by Toby on Aug. 24, 2009
  11. this is an interesting article about Better Place, a car company wanted to make a difference: http://www.wired.com/cars/futuretransport/magazine/16-09/ff_agassi?currentPage=all

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Aug. 25, 2009
  12. I believe the new font works for copy, but I do not like it paired with the rings as part of the logo. I think the old word mark had more character. It did need a face lift but not a replacement.

    And, to say that this is a waste of artistic talent and vision is unfair. It takes a company with enough money to invest in a new type face in order to bring it into existence. Yes the designer could design a type face on the side, but to not find opportunities to turn your talent into money is foolish… and yes you might say pick a better/more eco friendly client, but let’s face it, at the end of the day we all have to get paid.

    Posted by C L Jones on Aug. 25, 2009
  13. @Karen Breen-Bondie: you mean *five* Olympic rings.


    Posted by S. Williams on Aug. 26, 2009
  14. Yes, typographers across the globe should arm-twist car companies into building more ecological vehicles by refusing to make typefaces for them.

    If people who do this professionally have to dismiss clients on the basis shown by Henry Swanson and Sujit Patwardhan, they will definitely be out of a job soon.

    Moreover, to make Audi into the scapegoat for what’s going on with this planet doesn’t make much sense. When it comes to making fuel-efficient cars that are well built and made in an increasingly eco-concious way, they’ll be among the forerunners in the entire automotive industry.

    But as far as ‘recognizing the problem’ goes: refusing to work for a car company would be as stupid as not wanting to work any company at all. All multinationals, and most of all companies worldwide for that matter, still have a carbon footprint. And hey, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Do you know Apple, the company that makes computers and such? The company that everybody raves about because their styling is so cool? Well, their products are made in China, the pinnacle of eco-concious thinking. Oh, and they use electricity, which is still generated by burning coal and splitting atoms.

    You, my good sirs, are very naive.

    Posted by BulimicStenographer on Aug. 27, 2009
  15. OK, it seems to me both sides have made their point when it comes to the eco-politic aspects of this discussion. I think the situation is not as black and white as people want to make it out to be. Not everyone is in a financial position that allows them to refuse to work for companies that are not “clean”, and if you really start investigating there’s always some dirt to be found, either from the companies themselves or through association. If you want to be completely clear with your conscience your only option is to relocate to the heartland of a third-world country and teach.

    I think everyone has to draw a line, and that is up to everyone personally. To take myself as an example, I will never work for an organisation or company whose eco-socio-political stance is diametrically opposed to mine, or which tramples basic human rights underfoot. Yet as a student I once executed one single job for Philip Morris during my training at a below-the-line ad agency because at that time I was in no position to refuse the assignment. A couple of years later though I was confident enough to go head-to-head with my boss and refuse to work for Shell. So you see, as always in life personal choice is determined by context.

    You may disagree with someone’s position and discuss this, which is vital for an open and democratic discourse, but in the end it’s up to that person and his/her conscience to decide whether who he/she works for is acceptable. Let’s call it a day before this heated exchange deteriorates even further into back-and-forth name-calling, and from now on please stick to the typographic issues at hand.

    Yes, typog­ra­phers across the globe should arm-​twist car companies into building more ecological vehicles by refusing to make typefaces for them.

    Although you have a point here and I understand what you are getting at, I disagree on a more fundamental level. Every single voice counts. Every single one.

    End of discussion.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Aug. 28, 2009
  16. @Yves:

    All I wanted to point out is that things aren’t as black and white as they were presented earlier in this topic. Hell, if this topic was about Hummer presenting its new typographic style, I wouldn’t have posted anything at all.

    To get back on topic, I think the makeover is a good one, atleast when it comes to plain text.
    The combination of the four-ringed logo (which has also been updated) and the wordmark in AudiType seems akward and rushed.

    Posted by BulimicStenographer on Aug. 28, 2009
  17. Oh good lord! This debate is ridiculous. If you want to decline work on moral lines, great. However to suggest that another Graphic Designer should refuse work based on your own moral code is madness.

    The discussion here is not the designers moral stance but the quality of the work. Is this a good typographic decision? Yes or no?

    I’m not a huge fan personally but that is a personal taste thing. I feel the new face feels too wide for body but it definitely works when tightly kerned in Caps.

    Anyone else got a comment on the quality of the work or are we going to perpetuate the selfrighteous stances that damage the industry?

    Posted by Rufus Spiller on Aug. 28, 2009
  18. Did anyone found a difference between Univers Extended and Audi Sans?

    Posted by Safant on Aug. 31, 2009
  19. “Audi Sport” — For me the big difference are the wholes on the letters. (I don’t remember the technical name, sorry everyone) “d”, “p” and “o”. They were kind of compressed. Bit extended like. This gives an agressive touch and also “speed” which also happened in the car itself if you compare the front lights of ancient models. Question: It looks like the car is going to kill you. Is this cool? Being bad is cool? Can you imagine Woody Allen inside this car? So nice type can say so much!

    Posted by Nuno on Sep. 1, 2009
  20. Haha. Henry, You’re funny.

    Posted by Nate on May. 6, 2010
  21. Sigh, Henry Ignorance is killing the world. Please turn of your computer. Next turn off the electricity to your house. Make everything yourself from things you gave grown for the rest of your life and eat only things you grow or that you find. Stop eating meat especially cows. And then once you are healthy and happy go outside get in your car and go for a drive and enjoy it because you will be causing far far less pollution then all the rest of the baggage in your life has been up till now.


    Posted by Robsan on Oct. 5, 2010
  22. I think the new font captures the character you expect when reading something written by Audi. Its like recognising the handwriting of someone you know. I think they’ve also succeeded in putting a recognisable part of the four rings into the font.

    Again, Peas.
    So much tastier than none. Maybe if we all had some we’d get peace. Which is so helpful in prolonging everyones pea tasting.

    Posted by Robsan on Oct. 5, 2010
  23. There is definitely more motion felt from the new typeface, but in some of the characters it makes them feel as if they are tearing apart ei. “p” and “d”.

    Verdana is well crafted and I don’t see a problem with someone basing a print typeface on those letterforms, but you have to take into consideration the differences between copy and display sizes and I don’t feel this typeface has done that effectively.

    Posted by Ryan on Dec. 9, 2010

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