During the summer of 2022, Sharp Type worked with Pentagram's Emily Oberman to develop a customized version of Sharp Grotesk for Amazon Prime Video's brand refresh. Lucas Sharp and My-Lan Thuong designed a type system that serves as the foundation of a revamped user experience in the world of Prime Video.
Prime Video is a hugely popular streaming service, with over 200 million subscribers––including more than half the adults in the US alone––logging in to enjoy a massive library of movies, series, sports, and premium channels. The typographic framework gives Prime Video its own distinct and compelling voice within Amazon, syncs up with existing Prime Video elements to create an immersive experience of the brand, and balances the graphic identities of the individual programs and the Prime Video ecosystem.
The challenge was to create a brand refresh that is cohesive, distinguished from its competitors, and designed with enough flair to foreground its original content. To that end, the type system had to simultaneously shine as a unique brand signifier while working effortlessly as a practical communication tool.
Pentagram wanted to use Sharp Grotesk -- one of Sharp Type's most popular releases that is beloved for its incredible scale of weight and width. Its technical scalability translates directly to Sharp Grotesk's variety of possible moods, and this generous palette gave us ample wiggle room to customize the character set to complement Prime Video's broader brand redesign. We immediately honed in on three characteristics: strong, friendly, and delightfully nerdy.
Called Prime Video Sharp, the final customization has multiple weights that support the bold and bright energy of the messaging. Says My-Lan: "We interpolated a special Demi weight [of Sharp Grotesk] that sits in-between Medium and Bold." All the characters were also subtly rounded, including the punctuation, and certain letterforms like the /C, /G, /K, /M, and /R were opened up a bit.
"Due to the tight leading," continues My-Lan, "we also had to redraw all the glyphs with ascenders and descenders as well as the diacritics so that they could still fit between the lines." Further bespoke adjustments to the tittles were designed to work hand in hand with dozens of playful symbols that go along with different genres and themes. Overall, the customization gives the typeface a unique warmth of texture that is immediately felt.
The finished custom font is as adaptable as Prime Video's programming is varied, working in both digital contexts -- social media, motion graphics, TV spots, and the Prime Video player -- as well as applications in the real world -- billboards, subways, swag.
Sharp Grotesk has become a flagship font for innumerable clients and designers for its warm personality and perennial applications, and if anyone is going to customize our typeface, we'd like to be the ones to do it; given the opportunity, we've adapted Sharp Grotesk into Prime Video Sharp, and we're glad to know that we delivered a rigorously designed typeface system that will work effortlessly within this new world.