Well, not mad­ness, at least not now. The mad­ness actu­ally kicks in near the end, when I go off on a rant about the one type­face I truly love to hate.

I men­tioned recently that I’ve been set some logo-​​design tasks by sev­eral depart­ments want­ing to inter­nally brand their work, pur­pose, or func­tion. One of those designs was finally greened last week, the one deal­ing with our EMR team and its sev­eral subgroups.

First is the over­all logo (and yes, it really is called iCare):

iDidn’t pick the name. iWish the iNam­ing fad would iVa­po­rate. iFear iT won’t, any time soon.

That aside, you can see the roundel on the left has four quad­rants plus a cen­tral focus. Each of the quad­rants rep­re­sents one of the ancil­lary groups work­ing on the EMR imple­men­ta­tion and sup­port. As you may expect, each group has its own vari­ant of the logo with its quad­rant selected. For instance, this is security:

Security focuses on keep­ing patient records safe from pry­ing eyes. (Surprise!) One of the more sig­nif­i­cant aspects of an EMR is data secu­rity — if you’re stor­ing some­thing dig­i­tally, it’s only a mat­ter of time before some­one tries to get to it, for what­ever rea­son. But it’s not just about stor­age; any time data is trans­mit­ted, its stream also has to be secure. So we’re look­ing at mul­ti­ple lev­els of defense, from fire­walls to enci­pher­ment to back­ing up records reliably.

The choice of a com­bi­na­tion lock was obvi­ous here.

Next is qual­ity, refer­ring to both the patient expe­ri­ence and the level of care pro­vided on the back end.

Perception of qual­ity in care is remark­ably hard to wran­gle. A gruff physi­cian, or a nurse that acci­den­tally pokes too hard when try­ing to run an IV, or even a tray of luke­warm food can adversely affect the patient’s sense of quality-​​of-​​care. Needless to say, while all these are impor­tant points to con­sider, there are other things (labs get­ting mixed up, wrong pro­ce­dures being ordered, med­i­cine dosage errors) that are con­sid­er­ably more seri­ous. The qual­ity aspect is con­cerned with han­dling all these things, and more.

For this quad­rant I went with a “first prize” style badge. Originally it didn’t have the num­ber 1 in it, which made it a lit­tle too vague.

Next we have shar­ing — pri­mar­ily of patient data across the entire health­care spectrum:

Information shar­ing can include lab reports, radi­ol­ogy, med infor­ma­tion, data col­lected from the patient and fam­ily mem­bers, and more. The infor­ma­tion has to be freely acces­si­ble on demand, all the time, any­where — but it can’t be open to just any per­son who feels like nos­ing around. Originally the cir­cu­lar arrows were more oval, and not as visu­ally pleasing.

Finally we have health, which is depen­dent on more than sim­ple healthcare:

Health in this con­text means deal­ing with the entire spec­trum of patient care. Not just the imme­di­ate sit­u­a­tion, but diet, phys­i­cal activ­ity, over­all qual­ity of life, men­tal health, and fam­ily or other sup­port sys­tems. The choice of a happy face was self-​​evident for the quadrant.

Clearly, all four of these divi­sions depend on each other, and they all inter­act with the EMR core, which is why I ended up going with this design. The final form was very close to what I orig­i­nally sketched, too.

About the typefaces

The labels on the roundel are all set in Bank Gothic, a clean sans-​​serif that gave me a crisp look, even at rel­a­tively small sizes. The iCare (sigh) word­mark is set in Fontin italic, with its kern­ing hand-​​adjusted in some places. I like Fontin for its stroked let­ter­forms and sub­tle ser­ifs, par­tic­u­larly in the italic ver­sion of the typeface.

I’ve used it in a few other places — it and Baar Sophia, which is another type­face I’ve recently found some display-​​text uses for.

That’s not to say I don’t have uses for more con­ven­tional ser­ifs — Adobe’s ver­sion of both Caslon and Jenson really make me feel good, par­tic­u­larly the latter’s orna­ments — and I do fall back on super-​​bold faces like Hattenschweiler or Impact when I need them. I’ve even been known to use the occa­sional slab serif à la Rockwell or Egyptienne.

However, if I’m look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle bit smooth and warm, some­thing that stays crisp at smaller scales but presents enough detail to be inter­est­ing as a word­mark, I’ve dis­cov­ered that Fontin really is quite pleas­ant, and that in gen­eral I’m lean­ing more toward stroked humanists.

I used it in our Route 66 Race for Hospice logo design, along with Raspoutine Classic (the word Race is Raspoutine):

The non-​​italic font of Fontin also looks pretty good — which is why I used it here — but for the larger word­mark its italic form just didn’t have quite the stroke I wanted it to, which was why I went with Raspoutine instead.

I wouldn’t use either Fontin or Raspoutine for body text. But for dis­play text, I like their warmth.

Interestingly, the facility’s pri­mary logo uses Eras in the roundel itself, but Optima bold for the word­mark along­side it. This was a much-​​needed change from Peignot, which is a type­face that does to me what Comic Sans or Papyrus does to oth­ers. (Yes, some­one felt that Peignot would be an appro­pri­ate choice for the orig­i­nal word­mark. I’m very glad I was able to shift us all away from it, too.)

The prob­lem is that, because of the way Peignot was cre­ated, there is no such thing as an appro­pri­ate use for it.

Peignot holds the rather unique dis­tinc­tion of being delib­er­ately designed to be hard to read in low­er­case. It was intended to chal­lenge the idea that there would be two cases of char­ac­ter forms. It’s occa­sion­ally revived by peo­ple who don’t know any bet­ter because they think it looks inter­est­ing, or cool or futur­is­tic, but it’s an arro­gant type­face rooted in a worth­less idea, and its util­ity as a dis­play type­face — let alone for body text — is lim­ited to the point of being essen­tially a design dead-​​end.

I know, I know, but I can’t help it. Sometimes you gotta be a playa hata.

By the way, this is post num­ber 601! Not only is it a sort-​​of mile­stone (600 + 1), but it’s a prime num­ber — and a damn big one too.


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