Corporate fonts for Kaspersky Lab: history of creation
What do you pay attention to when you visit a well-known brand’s website?
Most likely your answer is design. And this is really the first thing that catches your eye, which is why international companies work out their corporate identity so thoroughly and carefully, spending a lot of resources on it and going through rebranding from time to time.
However, we are a type design studio, and we consider it our duty to remind you that font play a significant role in corporate identity. A font in which a text is set defines the most important thing: whether the client will read what is written on the website, packaging, and printed products of the brand, or leave this idea. The font should be readable, modern and aesthetic.
Today we will talk about the creation of one of such font families, which has become part of the corporate identity of Kaspersky Lab.
We are going to share a small but important spoiler. Almost right after its implementation, the text subfamily has won a prize in the European Design Awards 2022. Winning a bronze medal in such a prestigious European competition is a great joy both for TypeType and Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab is a company that develops products that provide information protection. It has its own Cyber Threat Research and Analysis Center (GReAT). Many people know about the brand as the largest manufacturer of anti-virus programs, although their scope of work is not limited to this.
The Kaspersky Lab team approached us with a request to develop a text subfamily for an already created corporate font, but our cooperation turned out to be much more fruitful.
Before we dive into the font details of the work, it is worth sharing how the story of our collaboration began.
The Kaspersky Lab team contacted us in September 2020. They had a font created by other studios that was supposed to be used for both display and text set. However, while the font was convenient for designers in creating headings, there were difficulties in typing arrays of text: it looked too much like a display face, and was hard to read.
Then the idea arose to create an additional, exclusively text-based subfamily to pair with the display one. With such a request, Kaspersky Lab turned to TypeType.
With new clients, the first contacts are always official, and before the work begins, we need to meet each other. Therefore, at the initial stages, we shared information about our studio, offered ideas for the future font, and showed the first sketches.
The Kaspersky Lab team noted that they liked the TT Interphases font and would be happy to see a text subfamily similar to it.
By the way, TT Interphases is one of the studio’s bestsellers. The font was created specifically for use in interfaces and the web industry. Before developing it, we did extensive research to understand which font parameters would be ideal for the tasks at hand. You can read more about this in the article about TT Interphases creation.
Kaspersky Lab employees had previously tested TT Interphases in their layouts, although they understood that they wanted their own unique text font for the corporate identity, similar in parameters to the reference.
We had 2 possible solutions. The first was to take their original font, Kaspersky Sans, extract the main graphical features that give the font its character, and implement them into TT Interphases.
The second solution was the opposite. We could take Kaspersky Sans and change it to match the parameters of TT Interphases. However, both paths led us to a similar result, which was already visible in the first sketches.
The text subfamily has been named Kaspersky Sans Text and the main change in the new font was that the height of lowercase characters and the spacing increased. This was largely influenced by the reference font TT Interphases, although it was also logical to do so as a text family has to be well legible.
Active work on the text subfamily began in the spring of 2021, when Kaspersky Lab made the final decision to create a text subfamily that would retain the graphical features and character of Kaspersky Sans, but the parameters would be similar to those of TT Interphases.
Let’s digress a little and clarify an important point common to all commercial fonts. When creating display and text subfamilies which are to become the corporate identity of a company, it is important to maintain matching. This means that fonts should complement each other and blend flawlessly. At the same time, it is important to follow the rules of typography, namely, to create a text font that is readable and more neutral, because it is these qualities that will allow it to look good in an array of text. A display font, on the contrary, must be made brighter and more larger, because this way it will attract attention in headers. Matching is achieved by transferring the graphic features that create the font’s character from the display to the text subfamily. It is worth noting that many of these features will still get toned down and smoothed out in the text font.
Taking into account that there already was a display face, our team had to create for Kaspersky Lab a matching font for the heading font that would be readable and more neutral.
We began to carefully study the display subfamily in order to understand what kind of graphic features and characteristics to transfer to text. The general character of the original font can be described as brutal and technological.
- Brutality was expressed in the squareness of ovals in certain letters, such as B, R, D, n, that is, in all characters where there is an attachment of circles to horizontals. This connection is rigid, and pronounced, which gives the font a brutal touch.
- The character of the font is also maintained by other elements, such as clearly defined horizontal lines. You can look at the terminals of the letters t, f or at the back of the s — the horizontal lines are deliberately straight, and it looks expressive and display.
- The shape of the lowercase g also attracts attention. This is a complex character with round shapes, and in classical fonts it is often made soft and smooth. When creating the font for Kaspersky Lab, they went in the opposite direction: the shape of the g is technological and straightforward.
- Another feature of the font is the absence of half measures. When there are hooks present in characters, they are noticeable because their shapes are large. This can be seen in lowercase j and uppercase J, in lowercase b. Circles are also expressive and wide when it comes to the signs O, Q, C.
- Compensators in font glyphs are not only present, they attract attention. In many characters, such elements rather complement the expressiveness of the font, which is why they play the role of optical compensators. Just look at uppercase B, R or A, lowercase n, k. In capital B, for example, the compensator rather adds boldness, but it is due to such decisions that the technological and brutal character of the font is created.
We had to work with all the described characteristic features when creating a text subfamily. Of course, some of the graphic elements should have been softened, because, as we have already noted, the main task of a text font is to be well readable even at small sizes.
Already in the first iterations, the text font was a calmer version of the display one. It is worth noting that while the task of the display font is to be directly associated with the brand, the task of the text one is to not interfere with reading, while the brand spirit must be present in the font.
- Expressiveness, brutality and the technological touch have been preserved but softened. For example, the unusual shape of the uppercase R remained, but the leg of the letter is no longer placed as deep as in the display.
- An important difference can be seen in the width of the semi-ovals in the capital B. The letter retained its shape but became more compact, and the optical compensation ceased to be a graphic element and began to be used in its role, adding white in bold faces.
- The proportions of the characters have changed, although all the characteristic features, such as curls and hooks, have been preserved while becoming less display. For example, this can be seen in lowercase b, uppercase J. In the characters O, Q, C, the circles narrowed, becoming more oval, rather than deliberately round. These changes were made to make the font more compact and readable.
- Straight terminals and horizontals have not changed their shape, their character was preserved. However, some glyph shapes have been softened, such as the back of s. This way we preserved the character, but removed the excessive displayness, which in the text subfamily would be superfluous.
- Apertures in c, e and other characters have become more open. Closed apertures work well at large sizes, but for a text font, such a graphic move can impair readability. In addition, in small sizes, closed apertures can stick together.
In order for the font to fit the required parameters, we increased the height of lowercase ones and changed the weights. Visually, the text font looked more compact because, although the width of the characters did not change, the glyphs stretched upward and began to appear narrower. From a proportional font, it has become a monospaced font. Letter spacing has been increased to improve readability.
Talking about features, many of them duplicated the composition of the display subfamily, which we will talk about a little later. There are not many features in the text face, but they all play a functional role and make it easier to work with the font.
- There is only one ligature in the text face, її for Cyrillic.
- In the text subfamily, there is a set of tabular figures and a set with slashed zero so that it is not confused with lowercase o.
- A solution borrowed from TT Interphases — numbers in circles. There are two options: black numbers on white background and white numbers on black background. With the help of this feature it is possible, for example, to nicely set a list in the text.
- Fractions switch to a more usual shape with help of a corresponding feature; there is a superscript which is used in footnotes and formulas.
- We added a feature that works by default. The colon between figures automatically raises to the height that is comfortable to the eye. For instance, if you are writing down the time, the colon will take the needed space right away.
The language composition of the text subfamily turned out to be really large: 200 languages. There are localized features for Moldovan and Romanian, Dutch, Catalan, Bashkir, Chuvash and Serbian languages.
There are 681 characters in the character set of each style. In the text subfamily, you can find an extended set of currencies and symbols, extended Cyrillic and Latin characters.
The results of this iteration were presented to the Kaspersky Lab team. It is worth noting that at the same size, the letters of the text font looked larger, which is good for this subfamily, because such a result improves the perception of the text.
In the text subfamily, we have renamed the faces. This was due to the fact that Kaspersky Sans used non-standard solutions. For example, Light was similar in proportion to Regular, while Bold was bolder than usual. Of course, this is not a crucial point, but the faces of the text subfamily have received more classic names, so the Regular font of the text style has become the same proportions as Kaspersky Sans Light. Bold in the text subfamily turned out to be standard in weight, close to Bold in TT Interphases.
We provided the full character composition of the Latin alphabet after a month of work. It almost completely repeated the character composition of TT Interphases, except for the icons that the Kaspersky Lab typeface did not need. After agreeing on the work, we started drawing the Cyrillic alphabet.
All project participants like the results, because the new subfamily worked perfectly with the display, while having better readability and a more neutral character.
The work on the font took 2 months.
In our articles and other materials, we often mention monospaced fonts. Let’s remember what they are.
Monospaced fonts are most often used in coding, although they have recently become very popular and are used in packaging design, branding, and site design. Their main difference is the fixed width, that is, all letters and characters are placed on an em-square of the same size. Because of this, all fonts of this category feature a special design, look compact and a bit pressed together since the widest glyphs are of the same size as the narrowest ones.
The Kaspersky Lab team decided not to limit themselves to text and display subfamilies, but to supplement the composition with one more, monospaced font. It was not supposed to be widely used on a par with the text and display fonts, but nevertheless it could perfectly complement the corporate identity in products, materials and communications that use or visualize the code.
Even before the Kaspersky Lab project, our specialists conducted a study on monospaced fonts to determine the required size of the em square, the character composition, and universal graphic and technical solutions, thanks to which a monospaced font could please users and be functional. For that study, we selected popular monospaced font families from different studios, studying font parameters and analyzing them.
The results of this study became the basis for a monospaced typeface for Kaspersky Lab. For example, the value of 600 points is one in which glyphs don’t look too narrow or too wide.
Limitations on the size of the em square pose a challenge to working with the usual shapes of characters, because it is necessary not only to narrow the glyphs to the required size, but to make it such that the font is still harmonious, aesthetic and easy to use. And with that, all the characteristic features of the font need to be transferred to the new subfamily.
We told the Kaspersky Lab team about all the nuances in order to get to work with an understanding of the scope of permitted creativity.
We’re talking about glyph shapes that have changed. Jumping a bit ahead, the monospaced subfamily turned out to be technological but less brutal, with a light and pleasant character. At the same time, the viewer can easily guess that this is still a Kaspersky Lab font.
Some of the shapes were changed due to the monospaced limitations.
- The letter S changed its straight back to a smooth outline, the shapes of the signs f, l, j, r changed.
- The font became lighter due to the wide blanks of some characters, which was also a consequence of it being monospaced.
- Straight terminals and hooks have remained the same, and their character has even been strengthened. This became not only a characteristic feature, but also a necessity, because it was necessary to occupy the white space in narrow characters, for example, in j or t.
- You may notice that serifs have appeared in some characters, such as f, l, j, i, r. This is a standard solution for monospaced fonts, which also takes up the white space of narrow glyphs.
The other part of the solutions played a rather decorative role, making the font more technological.
- There was no need for a serif in the uppercase and lowercase y, because the wide part fills the white space nicely. However, the serif maintains straight horizontals and terminals, complementing the typeface’s character. The same serif is used in the capital J.
- The lowercase g, as you can see, has changed its shape. There was no direct need for this, but the new shape looks very technological and fresh, adding aesthetics to the font.
There also were other peculiarities.
- The height of glyphs in the monospaced font turned out the same as in the text face.
- The Bold face has become a bit thinner. This is due to the initially wide characters becoming narrower.
- The punctuation characters have become larger to fill in the appearing white space. We made the difference in sizes between a comma and quotation marks visible so that programmers can distinguish them easily.
Only the functional features making the work with the font easier remained.
- There are no tabular figures in the set because monospaced figures are tabular by default. But there are two versions of the set with different zeros, crossed out or dotted so that the user can choose the one they like. By the way, there is no standard zero in the set to exclude the possibility of confusing it with the letter o.
- Circled numbers are present in two versions, but only one-digit numbers are used in the monospaced set, since two-digit numbers are difficult to fit on a 600-point square.
- Fractions and percentages have an interesting shape.
- A superscript and a contextual alternative with a colon between numbers are also among the features.
- Moreover, there are localized forms for Moldovan and Romanian, Dutch, Catalan, Bashkir, Chuvash and Serbian languages.
The font had only 2 styles, Regular and Bold, each with 687 characters in the box office. The monospaced font, like the text font, supports 200 languages.
We made the complete character composition for two styles in a month. It should be noted that we were not the only ones satisfied with the result: the Kaspersky Lab team accepted the font without any changes.
It would seem that after the creation of the text and monospace subfamilies, the work should have been completed. However, the Kaspersky Lab team returned to us with one more task: to make changes to the original font.
The original Kaspersky Sans, with which the team came to us at the beginning, was developed as a common font for all purposes without separation between text and display. However, in the course of work, we created a separate text subfamily Kaspersky Sans Text and a monospaced Kaspersky Sans Mono. Modifying the original Kaspersky Sans to convert it to the Kaspersky Sans Display font was a logical next step.
The Kaspersky Lab team did not plan to draw a new typeface from scratch, so we started looking towards visual and technical adjustments to improve the typeface.
We began to look for those details that would make the type more aesthetically pleasing from a visual point of view, and more correct from a typographic point of view. Let’s take another dive into type design. In commercial fonts, display subfamilies are made more expressive. This is due to the fact that the headlines are eye-catching, attract attention and evoke a strong association with the brand. The function of a text subfamily is rather practical, because it is created for reading large arrays of text, so its graphics are more supportive.
However, a display font is not always designed alone. It can go in close connection with the company logo, and then it is departing from the visual features used in the logo that the character of the display style is created.
That is why, before taking Kaspersky Sans Display to work, we clarified what appeared first: the font or the logo. As we expected, the logo was created first, so we started to study it.
A display subfamily can match the logo, but they are rarely completely identical. The letters in the Kaspersky Lab logo are arranged more densely, the ascenders and descenders are very small. The font in the logo is assembled into a single whole, forming a solid slab.
The original Kaspersky Sans typeface perfectly reflected the brand’s position: technological, modern and minimalistic. The font of the brand was brutal and technological, but it lacked contemporaneity. It is worth noting that the logo has densely spaced, with tall lowercase letters and small ascenders and descenders, while in the display font, on the contrary, the lowercase letters were short with wide spacing and large ascenders and descenders.
We noted that the density of the display font should not be the same as in the logo, but still the spacing of the original Kaspersky Sans font was too sparse.
The nature of the original font and graphic features are detailed in the first chapter, and we had to keep them. We proposed changes that would make the display sub-family better match the company logo, and after getting approval from the team, we began to make these changes.
- Changed the names of the styles to more traditional ones and partially changed the weights.
This was a necessary step to make it more comfortable for designers to work with subfamilies that have similarly named styles. We also suggested expanding the palette of faces. The updated version had a regular style, but no thin and extra bold, while the text version had a rather bold ExtraBold. In display fonts, bold styles always look advantageous and display, they are convenient to use in large sizes, so we proposed adding ExtraBold to Kaspersky Sans Display, thereby increasing the number of upright styles to 6.
- Changed figures and some punctuation characters.
The Kaspersky Lab team suggested changing the numbers in the font family. As a result, we took the numbers from TT Interphases, as the team liked them and they fit the font, but worked on the graphics so that the final version would fit the rest of the glyphs of the font. We decided to make the punctuation larger so that it would be more convenient to work with.
- Increased the height of lowercase characters.
We have already noted that in the original Kaspersky Sans, lowercase characters were quite low. This solution gave the font an old style feeling, and the plans were to make the typeface more modern. After all, we are talking about the corporate identity of a technological company, and the font should embody the values of the brand and fit the logo.
In the first iteration, we proposed to increase the height of lowercase characters by only 5%. This result was not striking, but made the font more modern. However, in the process, we drastically changed this parameter, based on the solutions in the logo, and the height of lowercase characters increased significantly, while the size of uppercase ones did not change. This made the font more attractive.
- Made ascenders and descenders smaller.
In the original version of the font, the ascenders and descenders were large, which also made the font more old style. We made the opposite move, which resulted in rather large lowercase characters with smaller descenders and ascenders.
- Decreased the set density.
As we have already noted, the original display font seemed too sparse to us. On the contrary, we made the spacing more dense. It was even too dense, because the customer’s team still asked to make it a little wider. However, it still remained quite dense compared to the original font, and there is a rationale for this. As we learned during the sketch stage, the company plans to use Kaspersky Sans Display not only for headlines, but also for text. For example, the company’s website will be exclusively set in it, as it is easier for designers to work this way.
The rule of good typography is that in such situations, designers should change the spacing when working with type. In headings, it should be decreased and increased in text, thus preserving both displayness and readability. However, the rule of type design is that for this use, it is better to pre-set a denser spacing that can potentially be increased rather than decreased. After all, if the kerning and spacing in the font is set to wide spacing, when it is reduced, the font may stick together or look unaesthetic. In the case when everything is initially thought out for a dense set, with an increase in the space between the letters, the font will still look great.
The composition of features in the subfamily remained practically unchanged, we transferred the existing ones, partially supplementing them with new ones.
- The original font had a stylistic alternative for the letter a that switched the shape from two-storey to one-storey. By the way, the logo of Kaspersky Lab uses the two-storey design, so the main shape is firmly associated with the brand, while the alternative one adds variety to the font.
- The display font had a stencil set. Graphic solutions in the form of breaks repeat those used in the logo, so this set is convenient for designing headlines in cases where you need to evoke a strong association with the brand for anyone who has ever seen the Kaspersky Lab logo. We have transferred changes similar to those made in the standard set to the stencil set.
- There are only 5 ligatures, and each of them helps to avoid gaps or sticking of glyphs that are unpleasant to the eye. Combinations ff, fi, fl, ft for Latin and її for Cyrillic are standard solutions for most fonts.
- The rest of the features are similar to those in the text subfamily: a tabular set of numbers and a set with a slashed zero, fractions, a superscript. The colon, which rises automatically when used between digits, also remained.
- In the display subfamily, as well as in the others, there is an expanded composition of currencies and symbols, and the company logo has also been added.
- Localized features for the Moldovan and Romanian, Dutch, and Catalan languages have also been preserved.
In total, there are 200 languages in the display subfamily, and the character composition is 711 characters for each style.
Work on the display subfamily took the longest, mainly due to longer breaks between iterations, but the final result was worth it.
At the end, the Kaspersky Lab team received 3 subfamilies: display, text and monospaced one, each of which is designed for its own purposes. The display one will become the hallmark of the site, the text one is suitable for setting any arrays of text, even in small sizes, and the monospaced one is convenient for typing code.
We are happy to have been a part of this project, because it was a pleasant experience with an aesthetic and user-friendly font result.
Yulia Gonina — art director, lead type designer
Eugene Tantsurin — mono subfamily
Ivan Gladkikh — technical director, kerning
Yuri Nakonechny — mastering
Victor Rubenko — hinting
Nikita Morozov — head of design
Roman Mironov — art director
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