TypeTogether’s Maiola Featured on Wikipedia Rebrand Exercise

by jfjudah

Small companies that put rebrand exercises on the web tend to get others talking. The rebrand making the rounds right now is Wikipedia from New!.

What caught my eye was that they used Maiola (PDF), one of my favorite typefaces from Veronika Burian and distributed by TypeTogether. I love how they chose such a dynamic serif rather than a safe sans. Maiola has a kinetic energy in every little stroke, even the dot over the lowercase i. I may have chosen to put “wiki” both in italic and bold just to keep a balanced weight to both sides because optically it doesn’t strike me initially as balanced; it’s a bit light on the left. But it sure is distinct, and distinction wins in branding.

Wikipedia Rebrand with Maiola

Wikipedia Rebrand with Maiola

Be sure to check out all the details and their thinking behind the rebrand. It’s a great example of being clear with objectives and with execution of an idea. However, I would argue two points. First, I think the large w should have been changed as well. WordPress uses a capital W also so I would like to see a bit more distinction for Wikipedia. Second, I’m not sure about making it look like a newspaper. The concept of news is that it should be completely factual; that is the opposite of Wikipedia since anyone — everyone — can edit or update an article based on . . . nothing. No credentials or experience are necessary. For example, I had a college history teacher who would give us essay assignments with the warning that we should not use Wikipedia. “Historical facts are not democratic,” she would say, and she promised to make changes to the pages before it was due just so she could downgrade us.

Anyways, I love Maiola; I’ve even made it the article heading typeface for my site. It is based in calligraphy and has planned irregularities in the glyphs to mimic hand-formed processes. This same concept is seen in John Downer’s Vendetta, but Burian, being Czech herself, set Maiola’s trajectory based on two little-known Czech type designers: Vojtěch Preissig and Oldřich Menhart.

The thought is that fonts look the way they should look up close, but the further you get from them, the more they change: sharp cuts and angles soften while smooth curves appear more blobby. Infusing a design with more sharp angles, then, keeps each glyph clearer and helps preserve the original voice of the typeface even as the reader gets further from them. From this perspective it’s easy to understand how Maiola’s sharp cuts, drastic angles, and contrast are as functional as they are artistic. Check out all the details hidden in this typeface.

Maiola Sample

Maiola Sample

Burian created Maiola in completion of her MA at Reading. It has won numerous awards, has been used in everything from magazines to fine book printing, and started her type design career with a masterful first step.

Here’s a FontShop link to Maiola.