All eyes have been on Birmingham this week as Daniel Alcorn and Luke Tonge delivered another fantastic design festival. As part of the proceedings, brand and design consultancy dn&co, created a new brand for Digbeth, Birmingham’s creative quarter and one of the city’s most distinctive neighbourhoods.
The bold identity celebrates the rich character of Digbeth, an area that has been a place for manufacturing since the Middle Ages and played a key role during Birmingham’s industrial revolution.
Echoing it’s industrial roots and evolution into a neighbourhood defined by industry and innovation. The identity is informed by extensive interviews conducted with local business owners, who spoke of the area’s special character and their desire to see it live up to its potential.
The colour, unmistakably yellow, is a nod to the innovative eggless Bird’s Custard powder, which was manufactured out of Digbeth. Today the Custard Factory is one of Birmingham’s most desirable locations for creative businesses.
As part of the design development dn&co collaborated with Colophon Foundry to create a bespoke typeface inspired by the neighbourhood – Digbeth Sans. The font will be free to download by anyone who lives and works in Digbeth, ultimately creating the neighbourhood’s very own typeface.
Digbeth Sans is composed of several layers – including inline, outline and shadow – that can be dialled up or down to be as expressive or as restrained as needed. The result is a flexible typeface, full of personality – much like Digbeth itself.
Patrick Eley, Creative Director of dn&co says, “In a place where a digital agency sits next door to a blacksmith and opposite someone who specialises in 3D-printed candy, there was never going to be a single marque that could reflect the incredible diversity of this community. Instead, we developed a rich typographic identity to give us the necessary flexibility — one that would speak the same language of Digbeth, but with different accents.
Building on the area’s rough-and-ready industrial heritage, we worked with Colophon to produce a family of layered sans typefaces that could be overlaid in multiple ways, creating one distinct voice for Digbeth that could vary in tone to capture the different characters of the area. Unusually, we’re giving the typeface back to the community, giving the identity the chance to truly reflect those it represents. We’re excited to see it used in new and inventive ways.”
Anthony Sheret, Director of Colophon Foundry adds, “Working closely with dn&co, we created a typeface firmly rooted in 18th and 19th century industrial Britain. Digbeth Sans pays homage to Digbeth’s importance in the manufacturing industry — and the role it still plays today. The variety of styles and layers draw inspiration from the lettering on the canal boats, and the industrial typography that runs through Digbeth and the surrounding Grand Union canal.”
dn&co is a brand and design consultancy inspired by culture and place. Over 14 years, the studio has worked with some of the world’s leading architects, developers, planners and cultural leaders to create meaningful destinations in architecture, workplaces, residential, fashion, retail, and restaurants through to entire neighbourhoods. They are the team behind the reinvention of St James’s, Broadgate, Here East and Ilford Town.
Their work spans place strategy, brand identity, print, publishing, digital, film and exhibition design for clients including The Mayor of London, The V&A, The Crown Estate, Stanhope, and British Land, among others.
About Colophon Foundry
Colophon is an international, award-winning type foundry based in London (UK) and Los Angeles (US). They create, publish, and distribute high-quality retail and custom typefaces for analog and digital media.
Since 2009, Colophon has tasked itself with producing fonts that are composed with aesthetic and technological care, developing a library of new classics that couple typographic history with contemporary sensibilities. In tandem with its own designs, the foundry hosts original typefaces drawn by influential practitioners and accepts commissions for custom fonts and bespoke versions of our existing typefaces.