Styrene in use: Alfa-Bank

Alfa-Bank used Styrene by Commercial Type for the redesign

May 28, 2019

Irina Voloshina

Аrt director, Alfa-Bank

The team of our designers was given a practical task, to choose a company font that we could later use for branding, communications, and other projects of the bank, — yet with all the rights belonging not to agency, but to us.

The usual development cycle for a customized typeface is two years. This was not OK with us: to develop any stuff we create inside our own company usually takes way less time. For example, a re-branding process and shifting to a new graphic system — from the idea taking its final form and up to the launch, — took us just two months. That is why we haven’t been able to order our own corporate font, so we started to look for a ready font on the market — a font that would meet our criteria: it had to be contemporary and relevant, high-quality, expressive, and not widely used.

There weren’t many options: our shortlist included two or three of them. We chose Styrene, for it had the most interesting character coupled with high readability. Styrene has a wide range of weights, from super-narrow to really fat ones, and — which is not typical for sans serifs, — high-quality, modern, very expressive italics. On the one hand, it looks fresh and relevant, — on the other hand, it is so brightly distinctive, that it will, I believe, outlive current trends in type design. The font has two families, and we took both — Styrene A and Styrene B. The second one works better in practical tasks.

Styrene in the renewed Alfa Bank’s branding

Before making our choice, we gave a chance to try the font to our designers in charge of company’s communications, and it proved that Styrene had rather rich range of tools. The typography is tricky thing: a poor font solution can destroy elaborate structures — if a font doesn’t exist in certain sizes, doesn’t allow for constructing an information hierarchy.

In the next stage, we linked up the logo and the font to enable fast creation of high-quality brand derivatives: sub-branding, product branding. Those things are possible only if there is your own, expressive, distinctive typeface.

As a result, after a careful renewal of our branding, we made a huge difference to our whole graphic language. The functional potential of this type family allows for creating a recognizable identity with a minimum amount of expressive means.

Typography became an important actor in our communications. We all live in the world oversaturated with information, with a font being a primary information medium. Communications and services tend to become more and more practical, and there is no more room for decoration. All things expression are now being put on must-have elements, and that is why the future belongs to typography.


Images from the guideline

Ilya Ruderman

Designer of Cyrillic version of Styrene

Styrene, — I designed a Cyrillic version of this font just a year ago, — is yet another masterpiece from Commercial Type studio. Its author, Berton Hasebe, is already known to the design community by his Druk.

Styrene is inspired by a Dutch typeface named Breede Schreeflooze, dating back to the early 20th century. It is true that many have tried, but Berton rethinks and reinvents archeological artefacts better than anyone — so that we literally stop seeing the archetype, and start seeing a peculiar contemporary type: oddly proportioned, very simple — and yet undeniably with its own recognizable voice and style.

I really liked previous Alfa-Bank’s rebranding, back when WollfsOllins presented a new concept with an underlined A. Although, the type part of this logo left much to be desired (you do remember this Л, right?). It should have been denser, and balanced in a different way. Yury Ostromentsky and me, we helped the guys to improve and finalize Alfa’s both logos, Russian and English. I am happy that we’ve managed to keep all the gains of their previous style — all while bringing it to a whole new, modern level, largely due to Styrene.


Mentioned fonts