Alibaba debuts its own proprietary custom font

Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has released z newly-created custom font – “Alibaba Sans” to be used across its ecosystem, with the goal of establishing an official typeface for the company, as well as pushing the company’s digital marketing and design.

Alibaba began creating Alibaba Sans last June by partnering with U.S. typeface company Monotype. They aimed for the text to reflect all possible touch points in its vast ecosystem.  Alibaba Sans is legible on small screens for the shoppers using its e-commerce apps, such as Taobao or Tmall, while remaining pleasing to the eye when stretched out across office buildings.

Alibaba Sans covers 172 languages, including English and Chinese, and supports two styles and 11 weights, which can be customised for the company’s events, such as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and the Olympic Games. The company plans to expand the font to more languages.

“Alibaba Group faced a common but significant branding challenge in that it needed to convey its brand values across a wide range of environments, both physically and digitally,” said Monotype’s Akira Kobayashi, the lead type designer for Alibaba Sans.

The company aims to establish a common visual identity across the company’s versatile and rapidly evolving business landscape by creating the new font.

Yang Guang, senior director of Alibaba New Retail Design, said, “At the pace that the company is expanding into new areas and new geographies, it becomes all the more important to have an official typeface that not only ensures branding consistency, but also helps people learn about Alibaba.”

“Brand personality is a very personal feeling, but the way we summarized it to Mr. Kobayashi was to see Alibaba as a 20-year-old, who’s young and bristling with energy,” said Chiang-Hui Lin, head of corporate branding at Alibaba Group, adding that the personality of Alibaba Sans font is reliable but energetic and young but levelheaded.

The introduction of Alibaba Sans is in line with Alibaba’s latest push to enable merchants in digital marketing and design, the company said in a statement. Alibaba Sans font can be designed and scaled to fit inside Alibaba’s ecosystem, which frees the businesses’ creatives up from repetitive, low-value tasks to focus on more meaningful work than selecting a typeface.

“We would like to make this new typeface an inclusive resource for all our partners and customers across the globe, and for free,” said Chris Tung, chief marketing officer of Alibaba Group. “True to our group mission, we are taking a concrete step forward to helping small- and medium-sized enterprises to participate in the digital economy through the power of design.”

Partners, merchants and consumers on its platforms can download the new typeface for both private and commercial use.

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