The new vs the old?

I noticed that a new word marque has been created for the publisher Faber & Faber. They are at pains to point out that the famous old ‘ff’ colophon (or printer’s mark) is to remain – all that will be replaced are the italic font and typography below. I think that the decision to keep the colophon is a good one. When I look along a line of books on the shelves of a bookshop and the multitude of different publishers’ logos that vie for my attention, its the unusual or well-crafted logos, such as Faber & Faber, Penguin and Phaidon that stand out.

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Above: a 1471 example of a colophon, or printer’s mark

ff_old_logotype

Above: The old Faber & Faber word marque below the existing (and remaining) ‘ff’ colophon

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Above: the new word marque

The test will be in the application of the tweaked identity. It’s certainly true that the new font and colour palette is stylish and capable of introducing some much needed-modernity into their communications. The thing that puzzles me though is how the old and the new will work together. Art Director Donna Payne describes the new word marque as ‘complementary and strong’. The ‘ff’ speaks of an older, slower and handcrafted world, where the form and decoration of a book was created by highly skilled artisans. In contrast, the new marque represents the modern, digitised and machine-made world. The tension between these two worlds is difficult to reconcile within a coherent and harmonised identity.

It’ll be interesting to see if Faber & Faber can make it work.

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Above: design for the cover of the Spring 2014 catalogue

The new vs the old?Sinclair Ashman
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