The American Marketing Association (AMA) has launched an upgrade and enhancement of its graphic standards for the future. Though still in a roll out stage, AMA International Headquarters gave our professional chapter (St. Louis) a peak into the thought process. A notable piece of the proposed scheme is a move away from typeface Avant Garde to Gotham Rounded. That move alone suggests they are on the right track moving forward.
Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase designed Avant Garde around 1968. It was based on Lubalin’s logo for Avant Garde magazine. The original face was all uppercase. Avant Garde was the first typeface released by ITC when the company was founded in 1970. Next to being used in all types of art publications, Avant Garde was a classic in ’70s advertising design.
Gotham was born in 2000, when men’s fashion magazine GQ commissioned New York-based Hoefler & Frere-Jones to create a new typeface for use in their publication. Provided with a brief to create something “masculine, new, and fresh,” type designer Tobias Frere-Jones drew influences from post-war building signage and hand-painted letters seen around New York City. Using the seemingly plain, geometric lettering from New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal as the project’s touchstone, an American “working class” typeface was born.
Gotham Rounded similarly unadorned but at a more intimate size. It is reminiscent of the lettering of engineering: the marks on precision instruments, blueprints, stencils and templates. Drawn, stamped, engraved and routed, forms are sensitively captured by the Gotham Rounded family. It is a technical letter that goes from friendly to high-tech to cheeky with ease
AMA has more than 75 professional chapters and dozens more collegiate chapters and special interest groups in the U.S. (with a number of international initiatives as well). Getting its brand in alignment while supporting all factions is an exercise in diplomacy and leadership. It could be too soon to project the success of this graphic image overhaul but in light of the sea changes in the worlds of marketing communication and branding, it seems necessary and overdue. I hope AMA is able to make enough correct assumptions to get ahead of the curve and remain the organization of thought leadership it has always been.