Twenty-six years ago, Hyundai Motors diversified by buying Diners Club Korea, renaming it Hyundai Card in 2001. Two years later, to set the brand apart, Hyundai Card did something novel. It became the first Korean company to develop its own corporate font, named 'Youandi', a typeface originally inspired by the shape of a credit card, with rounded edges with a cut diagonal on the upper left and bottom-right of the character.
It hired creative director Aad van Dommelen of Dutch firm Total Identity, along with Total Impact, a Korean company which jointly developed 16 styles of Youandi English-language fonts.
Since then, Hyundai Card, as well as its sister companies Hyundai Capital and Hyundai Commercial, have been using the font for product branding and all official documents issued by the company.
Variations followed. In 2004, two additional Youandi Korean fonts were developed in collaboration with Korean type foundry Sandoll.
In 2013, Hyundai Card collaborated with yet another firm, one of Korea's leading font companies, RixFont, to renew the English and Korean fonts, developing three additional fonts for titles and two fonts for body text, naming them “YouandiModern.”
But despite the revisions, as sometimes happens over time, the company found that after 18 years 'Youandi' had perhaps lost a bit of the original magic and needed a refresh for the digital age while keeping its heritage. The renewal focused on optimising the font for use under digital environments such as apps and web pages; improved readability; a better balance between English and Korean characters; and symbols and an expanded number of styles.
To ensure it still stayed true to its heritage, it brought back van Dommelen to collaborate with Hyundai Card Design Lab for the refresh. After a painstaking 14 month-long process of re-design and renovation Hyundai Card has come up with the YouandiNew font.
"The key elements of the typeface that have been diluted over the last 18 years were revisited and reinforced by the original creators," said Richard Ahn, director of Hyundai Card Design Lab.
YouandiNew comes in both English and Korean. The existing five English-language font styles expanded to 23 through the addition of italic, condensed, and expanded variations. Korean typeface styles increased from five to 12.
Why spend so much time and effort on a corporate font?
Memorable companies and brands have symbols to tie their culture around. Google doesn't need to play with its logo on its main search page all the time, but it's become a key part of the company's identity.
For, Hyundai Card, it's clear that developing Youandi is an immense source of pride and leadership. After creating the first original corporate font in Korea in 2003, other companies followed. Naver created Nanum in 2008, KT’s Olleh came in 2009, followed by Woowa Brothers’ Baedal Minjok in 2012, Amorepacific’s Arita in 2015 and many more after that.
"Where there is a trademark corporate typeface, the brand identity of that company is bound to be baked into it. This is why typefaces are sometimes called the ultimate branding," the company wrote in an article about the font published in its Hyundai Capital newsroom.
The article went on to cite Apple's San Francisco and Google Sans as typical examples of exclusive corporate brand font investments, along with IBM (IBM plex), Coca-Cola (TCCC), Burger King (Flame), and Airbnb (Cereal) that have resonated with consumers over time.
"We are intuitively reminded of a brand at the mere sight of branding phrases or product names written in a corporate font. That is why font branding is considered as the fastest, most powerful and direct communication method," the company said.