Typography

Mahatma Gandhi’s Words in His Own Type

Leo Burnett India ad agency commemorated the 141st anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth (October 2, 2010) by creating an alphabetical font in the Devanagari script in the style of Gandhi’s trademark wireframe eyeglasses. The special typeface was the brainchild of Burnett’s national creative director KV “Pops” Sridhar, who wanted to inspire younger generations with the teachings of Gandhi. The glasses symbolize Gandhi’s vision and his visionary thoughts on truth and nonviolence. Sridhar explains, “The way he saw the world is completely different than the way we do – and hence the glasses, to subtly nudge people into thinking like him again.” Gandhi had originally given the glasses in the 1930s to an Indian army colonel who had asked the great leader for inspiration. Gandhi reportedly gave him his glasses and said, “These gave me the vision to free India.”

Burnett staff designers and typographers spent several weeks working on the digital eyeglass font, which they posted on the website. Visitors to the site can download six posters, each featuring one saying of Gandhi, as well as the font as wallpaper or a screensaver. Currently the font is only in Devanagari, but will soon be available in English, Tamil and other major languages. The educational website also made Gandhi’s eyeglasses interactive. By clicking on the glasses, different parts fly off to become part of the font, forming a mantra or a letter of the alphabet. The site also contains a message board so people can specify which Gandhi saying they want on their poster, or make their own Gandhi sayings and proverbs for use in a nameplate or other medium. Leo Burnett India is also promoting the font on Facebook, Twitter and other social network platforms and allowing Facebook users the option of having their profile page transformed entirely into the Gandhiji font. Plans also call for the creation of typeface imprinted merchandise such as postcards, mugs and T-shirts.

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