World Cup Typography: Yomar Augusto

After Paul Barnes, designer of the Crepello and Olembe custom typefaces for Puma, we now focus our attention on Yomar Augusto. This Brazilian designer currently living and working in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is the creator of Unity, a custom alphabet he designed for Adidas. Yomar emerged from a new generation of designers and graphic artists in Brazil. Born in Brasília, raised in Rio de Janeiro, and initially trained as a graphic designer, Yomar went on to study photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, before starting his own studio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He then went on to complete a Masters in Type Design from The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, The Netherlands between 2004 and 2005.

Yomar Augusto at Don't Believe the Type, Shanghai
Yomar Augusto presenting at Don’t Believe the Type, Shanghai, on May 18th.

Yomar presented both commercial and conceptual projects pieces in solo exhibitions in Japan, Europe and Brazil, and designed for a host of brands such as EMI, MTV & Warner music in Brazil, 180 Amsterdam, Adidas Football World Cup 2010 & Icon Network in The Netherlands, Fur Fur & Graniph in Japan, Random House in New York City. Since 2002 he has been running experimental calligraphy workshops in Brazil, Russia, Portugal and The Netherlands. He recently guested on Don’t Believe the Type, a one day typographic festival initiated by Dutch design agency Trapped in Suburbia. The second edition was held in Shanghai on the 18th of May during the World Expo 2010, and focused on the typographic excellence from The Hague.

Unity numbers on Argentinian shirts.
Unity numbers on a Spanish shirt.

How did you land this job?

Y O M A R  A U G U S T O | “I designed and produced this typeface whilst working at 180 Amsterdam. Their main client is Adidas, for whom they work on global projects. At that time the design team were developing a comprehensive visual language for the Adidas Football range for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This custom typeface was an integral part of this project. Unity ended up being used across all products and packaging, in retail, advertising, film, and digital communication – in fact on any Adidas project relating to the World Cup in South Africa.”

Announcement of the Jabulani, the official 2010 FIFA World Cup match ball.

The Jabulani official 2010 FIFA World Cup match ball, with the typical rounded triangular shapes that served as an inspiration for the Unity typeface.

Where do those peculiar character shapes come from?

Y O M A R  A U G U S T O | “Adidas had a vision that every element of their football identity was to be linked and unified by one basic shape. This shape can be found as a design element on the official match ball of the World Cup, so the first drawings came from the product designers at Adidas. We at 180 had the task to bring it to life and inject its personality into the whole alphabet.

The core concept of the Unity project was to make the shape which is at the very heart of the world cup – the official match ball which was referenced throughout the whole identity – an essential part of this typeface, as you can see in the numerals 6, 8, and 9. So the same shape that is found on the ball, a rounded triangular form, is also at the heart of the font. That basically was the brief: keep the energy of the shape and build a typographic system around it, inspired by the Jabulani football itself.”

Unity typeface specimen.

Was it a smooth process, or did the design go through many revisions?

Y O M A R  A U G U S T O | “There was a lot of refining and crafting, but since the basic drawing came from Adidas the partnership was really good, also because we collaborated so closely. Originally the typeface was only meant for the shirts. Only afterwards was it decided to implement it as well for all communication – print, film, and screen. This meant we needed to create different character sets, a lower case version, and all the required glyphs. The project grew and grew, both in size and ambition, to become the fully featured digital typeface it currently is.”

Unity numbers and players’ names on German shirts.

Unity numbers on shorts.

I guess you must be mighty proud to see your work on the television screen, being broadcast in literally hundreds of millions of homes.

Y O M A R  A U G U S T O | “It’s difficult to describe how good it really is to see the type printed on the national football shirts, on the backs of great players – and even on the ball they play with. It’s a great feeling, because as a designer I used to only see my custom types on flyers and posters and so on, and now one of my typefaces is seen by a cumulative audience of almost 30 billion all around the world. In fact it’s so fantastic that I can die happy now! : )”

If you like this type of faces, have a look at Greg Thompson’s Clicker, and Simon Schmidt’s Monolith, amongst others. And if you don’t mind angular corners there’s also Tobias Frere-JonesArmada.

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  1. gr8 interview!

    btw: some lil mistake: “Greman shirts”.

    Posted by Michael Jackson on Jun. 24, 2010
  2. thank you for the interview, i have been looking for more info about the adidas typeface for some days.
    i cannot say i particularly like the font. but to read about the background of the hard work that’s been put into it, i begin to appreciate the letters more and more. (the numbers are pretty cool anyway, and the fact that and the way how they’re tied to the football’s design is adorable.)
    what i don’t understand is how R and A could have been made appearing so similar. especially at an international event when it is most likely that you do not know every player’s name, it’s important to distinguish every single letter. this way, we have some pretty (or… interesting) letters, but a lack of readability when they’re out together… that’s a pity.

    Posted by blaugraufrau on Jun. 24, 2010
  3. Whoa! The King of Pop proofreading from beyond the grave! Great catch, MJ, thanks for pointing out this keyboard slip.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jun. 24, 2010
  4. I think the one from the grave :) has a point on the A and R issue, but all the concept behind is very well explored. Gotta love those numbers! You really can see Jabulani triangle there. Great Post! Thanks!

    Posted by Nuno on Jun. 25, 2010
  5. So, who is responsible for that ugly ‘German B’ in ‘Kießling’?

    Posted by Florian on Jun. 25, 2010
  6. Hi there. Yomar has also published one of his typefaces in Fontshop:

    Posted by Ramiro Espinoza on Jun. 26, 2010
  7. I got to know Yomar Augusto’s works some years ago in Brazil. Nice to see how he can always keep a good quality on it. Very straightforward concept and pleasant graphics.

    Posted by Felipe Moscon on Jun. 28, 2010
  8. hmm… I’ve got to be honest, its not a very good design. What’s up with the A & R and the ugly numbers? Basic idea is ok but there are too many poor characters! (sorry)

    Posted by storm on Jul. 8, 2010
  9. You don’t have to apologise for not liking this typeface, Storm. After all type design is an artistic endeavour, not an exact science. Personal taste plays a crucial role in our appreciation of typefaces.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 8, 2010
  10. Why is the 4 missing from the “whole set?”

    Posted by StereoTypo on Jul. 9, 2010
  11. Because it can easily made from the ‘H’, or by flipping the ‘h’! ;-p

    Posted by Florian on Jul. 10, 2010
  12. Maybe because Yomar is a devoted fan of Lamb’s second album? (Now this is an obscure and convoluted pop reference ;).

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 10, 2010
  13. i’m also intridge why no numeral 4 maybe its “unlucky” in football , could mr augusto explain? and perhaps design one; necessary if the typeface is to be used in the future[non]football world…but….maybe its just a typo

    Posted by mkmkmk on Jul. 11, 2010
  14. Check the picture of the Argentinian shirts at the top. Obviously this simply was an omission in the specimen, and the 4 is very much included in the typeface’s character set.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 11, 2010
  15. What a great font. My only quibble when watching was the L, which looks strongly like the Japanese character ‘shi’ (し). I first noticed it on the Japanese players shirts, and thought they were melding alphabets… couldn’t shake that impression for the rest of the tourney. But love it overall!

    Posted by Not E on Jul. 12, 2010
  16. The typeface is decent, but nothing that really excited me at first glance. The subtle 3D drop-shadow on the numbers, however, was a lovely application. Particularly the white typeface on the dark shorts. Bravo.

    Posted by Leonardo on Jul. 12, 2010
  17. Where’s the rest of the World Cup?
    I was expecting fontfeed to at least give us a nice round up of all (maybe not all) fonts present at the world cup. (For example the hard blocked type of the Dutch team).

    Posted by Peter K on Jul. 12, 2010
  18. I did some research, and the only additional information I could find was the World Cup “corporate face” – the sans with the hand-crafted look – called Menyaka, designed by South African design group Switch. Unfortunately after our initial contact by e-mail I never received any answers to my questions.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 13, 2010
  19. And now that you mention the Dutch jerseys, now that was a severe disappointment, especially after attending Sander Neijnens‘ presentation Shirt numbers – the stepchildren of the football jersey at TYPO Berlin 2007 “Music”.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 13, 2010
  20. Great post. Wondered about this for the entire tournament. I have mixed feelings about Unity but, overall, it works pretty well. Also, check out this post of a free font “inspired by” the official FIFA typeface, done as an attempt to approximate the feel of the WC materials. [link removed by moderator]

    Posted by Julio on Jul. 13, 2010
  21. Hi Julio, I had to remove your link to the font because it obviously is a rip-off of Gaby De Abreu’s work for Switch. The “designer” of the font you linked to blatantly admits:

    “I am not the author of the original font – but simply vectorized a number of letters from the official WC logo and build (sic) the rest of them.”

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 14, 2010
  22. excelente trabajo!

    Posted by Mauricio on Jul. 16, 2010
  23. Articles like this are why I love your newsletter.

    And being Spanish, is good to know which Font took us to heaven.
    We will never forget you, Unity. You are part of our hearts.


    Posted by Javisam on Jul. 21, 2010
  24. I think the typeface is pretty cool. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it’s decent. I have some issues with the use of the typeface though. It seems to me that Adidas didn’t consider the individual nations’ uniform designs – before splashing the font on to all of them.

    I think the typeface works great on, and in relation to the actual Jabulani football. But it’s not so hot if you look at the German uniforms for instance. The German uniforms have an oldschool design and feel, which i thought was really really cool. I thought they were the best uniforms of the world cup, if it hadn’t been for the typography. The typeface totally clash with the uniforms design and feels completely off.

    In contrast have a look at my favorite uniform of the world cup – England’s uniforms (, which also have an oldschool look, but with a beautifully matching typography. So nice, I really enjoyed looking at them – all 3 games – but hey, no surprise there, same as always :-).

    The font actually looks pretty nice on the Argentinian uniform, but again isn’t very good on the Spanish.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that Adidas should consider choosing fonts that match the uniform and nation, instead of using a font, designed for something completely different, on all of them.

    Posted by gesbenst on Jul. 21, 2010
  25. Como é gratificante ver nossos designers tipógrafos ganhando o mundo. Literalmente show de bola o seu trabalho Yomar. Uma Pena não contarmos com nossos designers para criarmos uma marca de qualidade para a copa 2014.

    Saudações Brasilienses!!!

    Posted by David Borges on Jul. 21, 2010
  26. I’m sorry for adidas…
    The numbers are horrible, despite I like the letters.
    ok.ok… maybe not horrible.
    But I bet they could have chosen something a bit more beautiful…

    Posted by leandro on Jul. 21, 2010
  27. interesting to learn about the fonts we were looking at several afternoons/evenings! I hope that you will make a real series out of those two, I would enjoy!

    I don’t agree. especially on the reduced, white/black shirts of the german team, I appreciated the font, and already noticed it during the wc. didn’t remember spain to have the same font, but their shirts were way too “uniform style” anyway.

    Posted by elvira on Jul. 21, 2010
  28. Parabéns Yomar pelo excelente trabalho!
    Gostei particularmente dos números.

    Posted by Pedro Sales on Jul. 22, 2010
  29. @Nuno

    that’s not a “B” it’s a “ß” (Eszett)

    Posted by aGS on Jul. 25, 2010
  30. I loved unity. It looks well thought, and I loved the relation between its curves and straight lines.

    But what I loved more is the Netherlands shirts typeface, It is bold, straight and with a pattern fill.

    Anybody knows what typeface it is?

    Posted by Danny K on Jul. 25, 2010
  31. Good thing the font worked out well, because that Jubulani ball was a piece of crap. Didn’t enjoy this WC, can’t wait for the next in Brazil. Will be epic.


    Posted by Brian Weck on Dec. 5, 2011

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