What’s Your Type?

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Winning the Gold Design Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2012 proves that non-linear thinking can take you places.

Winning the Gold Design Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2012 proves that non-linear thinking can take you places. The Hinglish Project that won the award last month, in the Brand and Identity Experience entry reinforces how typography plays a role in brand building.

Designed for the Ministry of Tourism's Incredible India campaign, the proposal was developed by Shirin Johari, associate creative director, DDB Mudra. Through this unique font design, you can tell the phonetic sound of a Hindi character by looking at the corresponding Roman letter superimposed on it. Hindi is written in the Devanagri script, which has many more characters than the English alphabet. This font, then, cannot teach you how to read words as they are spelt in Hindi, but its aim is to demystify individual letters in its script and make India more approachable. Despite the superficial distinctiveness of English and Hindi, the two borrow from the same phonetic pool — they both belong to the Indo-European group of languages. This font design playfully highlights these commonalities.

Developing a hybrid typeface wasn't easy. For Johari, it required learning the process of typography, speaking to linguists and getting her font right. "This taught me a lot. I had to overcome the jargon of grids and 'x' heights, ascenders and descenders. Hanif Kureshi, typographer and ex-colleague helped me understand these type concepts," says Johari. For the entire Hinglish Project package, Johari credits the film maker who helped make the video and webdevelopers who helped code the website and ofcourse the agency heads and the CEOs of DDB Mudra.

The interactive website allows visitors to type messages in "Hinglish" and the font is available for free download on the Hinglish Project website, so tourists can use them as word-maps when they travel. There are quick-flick books made for easy reference, and merchandise too.

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