The Ephs Family
In early 2020, our good friend Jesse Reed from order.design reached out to us about a large-scale identity rebrand for Williams College. Year after year, Williams College stands as the nation’s leading liberal arts college, home to a vibrant community of undergraduate students, graduate students, and esteemed faculty members who are consistently contributing to creative production, intellectual discovery, and academic scholarship. With this in mind, we created a custom suite of typefaces that represent the College’s multi-faceted, vibrant, and dynamic voice.
Each typeface has its own distinct personalities and can stand strongly on their own to highlight the individuality and range of character found on campus. At the same time, the four styles can and are encouraged to interact with each other to create an expressive harmony of voices.
Eph Serif, text size
As the College’s official wordmark, the Slab is bold and straightforward, designed to emphasize Williams’ individuality.
Eph Serif speaks to classic, sophisticated voice fit for an academic institution, and is updated for a modern era with details like larger proportions and spacious counters.
Eph Gothic references copperplate typeface design, featuring crisp, tapered wedge-shaped serifs, that gives letterforms subtle and stylish flair.
Eph Octic takes cues from stone carvings found on building exteriors throughout campus. Made up of angular strokes, Octic’s geometric design amplifies Williams’ fighting spirit, and their athletics teams the Ephs.
A common structure
The Ephs family includes four distinct typefaces: Eph Slab, Eph Serif, Eph Gothic, and Eph Octic. They share a core skeleton that begins with Sharp Sans’ large x-height, compact proportions and spacing. Each typeface includes 3 weights, Book, Semibold, and Bold, for a total of 12 fonts.
Capturing the spirit of the Ephs
During the research phase at Williams’ library archive, Reed and his team saw that the college’s communication materials historically featured an eclectic variety of typefaces. The concept of «typographic diversity» became a driving point for the new identity. From detailed lettering on 20th century Ephs basketball tickets and The Williams Record newspapers, to painted and carved contemporary signage downtown, these anecdotes are all referenced and woven into our custom-designed font family.
Ephelia The Purple Cow
In addition to the Ephs typeface family, our team had a lot of fun designing additional visual components for Williams’ official mascot, a purple cow named Ephelia. Lucas Sharp drew the college insignia of Ephelia that referenced issues of The Purple Cow, a 20th century humor magazine at Williams. My-Lan Thuong drew another insignia that captures Ephelia’s tough and fighting spirit to be used for Williams’ athletic teams.
Williams College is a preeminent academic institution that has grown and changed alongside its vibrant neighborhood of Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams’ rich academic and visual history served as primary sources of inspiration for designing the Ephs typeface family that resonates with the past, present, and future of the College. The Sharp Type team is thrilled to have collaborated with our good friends at Order.Design, learn so much about Williams’ rich history, and take part in designing a typographic voice for a College that continues to position itself as a leader in more ways than one.