NFL All-Pro Sans
The NFL Design team, in collaboration with Neil Summerour of Positype, have just completed an extended family of typefaces specifically designed to improved the aesthetic and accessibility on screens of all sizes. This work took design elements from the NFL’s Shield logo, classic typographic principles, and advances in font rendering technologies to create a contemporary family of typefaces that complement and extend the existing NFL brand. The All-Pro family will begin rolling out on NFL digital properties and content over the off-season, and will be widely adopted for the NFL’s 100th season beginning this fall.
Why create a new type family?
Problems had begun to emerge in the early 2010’s when embedded fonts became standard on the web. The NFL’s existing family of typefaces, Endzone, was designed for corporate branding and consumer products, not digital screens. Endzone proved to be functional in some cases, but the product designers were too often forced to license other typefaces for digital products. These decisions came with operational, branding, and budget implications that became increasingly challenging to manage. Things really became untenable as the diversity of digital screens and products exploded during the middle of the decade. The NFL needed something new.
It was important to begin with the recognition that this was NOT part of a rebranding of the National Football League. One of the strongest and most recognizable brands in the world, the NFL is iconic and what was to be created had to live next to and compliment the Shield, the existing type families, a number of event and initiative marks, and the 32 team brands. Most importantly, the output needed to solve the issues of accessibility, legibility, consistency, and file weight that were the impetus for the project.
The All-Pro family delivers on all of those goals. It is a consistent and focused system that remains horizontally efficient and vertically compact without compromising warmth. The typefaces avoid cliché trappings of letterform clipping and truncation, trendy visual motifs, and naive letter construction that ultimately age all too quickly and fall out of fashion. Instead, All-Pro relies on well-drawn, crisp letterforms and thoughtful aesthetic choices that strike a perfect balance between familiarity, fashion, and function.
NFL Media properties serve up billions of articles, scores, standings, schedules, and other digital interfaces every year. The biggest need was a family of workhorse typefaces that deliver maximum readability while still being distinctive. What Summerour and the NFL Design team, led by Senior Design Director Jeremy Milbourne-Clarke, settled on was typeface construction proportions influenced greatly by Akzidenz Grotesk, DIN 1451, and Summerour’s own Aaux Next—with one caveat emphasized by Summerour: it needed to be warmer.
“I understood why and how these fonts were being used, but I needed to distill the non-trend, non-geometric ideas behind those typefaces and focus on something crisp and warm. These two typefaces would be looked at a lot by a lot of different eyes. It needed to be familiar and easy to read. Anything that disrupted that could subconsciously encourage the end-user to move to another site or app.” - Neil Summerour
All-Pro Sans was designed to take advantage of today’s screen clarity with letterforms that are both practical and approachable. It maintains an even granularity to allow for a seamless flow without abrupt changes. The result is a neutral, easy-to-read sans serif with an identifiable charm.
Delivered in: 8 weights and matching italics