New BBC typeface Reith designed (in-house) for small screens

You probably haven’t noticed the slight change to the look of BBC Sport – but this week the BBC has started using the platform to roll out its new typeface called Reith, designed in-house. 

Reith, named after the broadcaster’s first director general, will replace the use of Gill Sans (created by designer Eric Gill in 1928), Arial and Neue Helvetica currently used across the BBC’s programmes and websites, with the intention that the new typeface is easier to read on smaller screens and mobile devices.

BBC Sport has already adopted Reith

However, Reith's aesthetic difference to Gill Sans is very subtle – notice the letters in bold at the top of this feature are Reith letters with a significant design difference, such as the rounded dot on the letter 'I'. 

Here are screenshots of both BBC News (still using Gill Sans, Arial and Neue Helvetica typefaces) and BBC Sport (using Reith) apps within smartphone screen dimensions. 

And there’s another perk – using Reith will save the BBC money. The corporation currently pays a licence to use typefaces Gill Sans, Arial and Neue Helvetica, although the exact sum is unknown. 

However, the BBC’s iconic block logo will remain in the Gill Sans typeface.

The plan was announced on BBC’s documentary last week, Two Types: The Faces of Britain, that explored the history of Gill Sans and Johnston (used since 1916) typefaces used throughout UK signage and London’s Underground transport signage. 

Creative director of typography foundry Dalton Maag, Tom Foley, helped to produce Reith along with BBC chief designer Colin Burns. 

The adoption of Reith to BBC Sport has been taken to mixed reaction on social media so far. 

One Twitter user, Robert, says: "The BBC is rolling out a new font called BBC Reith. Made in house. First impressions seem v nice but unsure if it will be for public use."

Another, Daniel Johnson: "Can’t tell I’m too invested in my job when I get pissy about BBC Sport introducing a new font."

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