This project considers the typeface Brandon Grotesque as if it was an individual: his personality, influence, and life story. With Brandon Grotesque being used more and more frequently, this was an opportunity to learn more about him, while similtaneously supporting the claim that good design can transcend time.
Inside: Modern and Elegant yet Retro and Functional
I first met brandon in 2014.
I was working on some personal endeavors for an upcoming event. I was painstakingly creating a series of retro, mid-90’s prints, and while I was happy with them graphically, my type choice of Futura Bold had left a lot to be desired.
Naturally, I searched for a familiar rock that I could cling to. It came in the form of Market Deco, a capable geometric sans from some dingy, back-alley font shack, but not before crossing paths with Brandon. The introduction was fleeting: a quick handshake, and an exchange of pleasantries before realizing that his services dipped into much deeper pockets than I had to offer. Still, he made an impression. Soon after, much in the same way you see your ex’s golden Pontiac Sunfire around every street corner, Brandon began popping up in daily conversation. Slowly at first, with a quick word here and a small mention there, but by the beginning of 2015 I was seeing him on the web and brochures, even on the front label of an Irish cider of which I was quite fond. It seemed that Brandon had become something of a celebrity in a short period of time, and unlike that Sunfire, he kept company with people of virtue. So I seized the opportunity to do business with Brandon, and it is with his help that I am writing this account, and the following summary of his budding life.
Hello, My Name is:
Who is Brandon G?
Why this small-town type is the toast of 2015.
Brandon Grotesque is a young font, born in 2010 to a society becoming increasingly enamored with “throwback”, retro design. Some may say that he is an old soul, reminiscent of a specimen from the early 1900’s—but in a modern world fatigued with details and over-design, it is in Brandon’s steadfast simplicity that we find his charm. At first look, Brandon carries traits of his surname that classify him as an unmistakable member of the oldest sans-serif family. His iconic “bowl, loop & spur” lowercase ››g‹‹, and his similarities to serif letterforms, such as lowercase two-story ››a‹‹ and curved-terminal ››t‹‹ are all telling qualities. Apart from his family’s relations to the serifs, Brandon also displays certain hereditary characteristics that have contributed to his genetic compound.
His tapered ears and spurs are reminiscent of a humanist’s welcoming legibility, and though he shares glimpses of that friendly demeanor, his overall letterform lacks the associated calligraphic flourish. Instead, he shares the fixed-width shapely frame of a geometric sans, portraying a certain sternness that might vibe as excessively hard-nosed for those who are too intimidated to explore his personable side. The shyness he may receive from others is understandable; for most, finding a font is as simple as choosing the appropriate weight of Helvetica or Myriad Pro. Yet, Brandon is far from frightening. Dressed in the exceptionally ordinary attire associated with the neo-grotesque period, Brandon exhibits an ironically unpretentious, “normcore” fashion sense instead of modern contemptuousity. To the design-conscious individual, Brandon appears to have struck an harmonious chord somewhere between familiarity and fortitude, a ruggedly handsome type characterized by his heavy stance, broad shoulders, and low center of gravity.
It is refreshing to have a stable and unabashedly conventional presence amidst the flamboyant left-overs of the 90’s, and the shallow insincerity of the 21st century’s emoticon.
It is evident that Brandon, though young, is a product of an historical time period that took pride in its staunch, blue-collar approach to everyday living; when midsections, though equally as substantial, were geometric and rigid instead of apathetically flabby. Despite all of Brandon’s venerable qualities, modern society has succeeded in molding him into a more contemporary nostalgic ambassador by softening the angularity of his vertices and grooming his ascenders and descenders into more elongated and modern forms. Brandon has the ability to convey details and subtleties, but his real value lies in his strong and concise delivery of titles and headlines. When he is allowed some spacious breathing room, Brandon truly shines.
BRANDON GROTESQUE: PRINTED TYPE BOOKLET
Trend or Tenure.
Is Brandon for real?
Despite my enthusiasm for Brandon, I’ve started to wonder whether his popularity is truly something to be celebrated.
I won’t deny that a portion of my fascination with him is a direct result of his increasing demand. His use has become wide-spread within the “third-wave” generation that focusses on vintage, artisanal qualities. Perhaps using Brandon is becoming an “easy way out” for startups to convey nostalgia in a modern context. Similar to the way that Helvetica was once the safe way to appear relevant, Brandon runs the risk of also transitioning into a trite and hollow placeholder. In fact, one can see how a face like Brandon’s could overstay its welcome, as there are already variations such as “Brandon Text” and gaudy display variations such as “Brandon Printed” that have started to pop up, like cheap sequels to a brilliant opening installation. Only time will tell.
F I N .
Brumburger, Eva. “The Rhetoric of Typography: The Persona of Typeface and Text.” Technical Communication 1 May 2003. Print.
Chapman, Cameron. “A Crash Course in Typography: The Basics of Type.” Fonts.com. 28 Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
Haley, Allan. “Level 1: A Typographic Foundation: Type Classifications.” Fonts.com. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.
Von Dohren, Hannes. Brandon Grotesque: Printed Type Booklet. Publisher: Author, 2010. Print.
Brandon Grotesque: Trend or Tenure is a short essay on the font and it's place in modern design.