In a world where anyone with internet access can publish and share information online, the line between fact and fiction, news and ‘fake news’, has become increasingly – and dangerously – blurred.
First Draft is a non-profit that works to empower society with the knowledge and tools needed to recognise and prevent the spread of misleading or false information online.
They investigate and verify emerging news stories across the globe, and build digital tools that help the press, content creators, and the general public make better judgements about the information they encounter online every day.
Above all, the most important message to come out of our initial strategy sessions was First Draft’s unwavering belief in the importance of truth in creating a safe society. And how, in their line of work, truth is directly related to the accuracy of information.
We created a mark inspired by the asterisk – one of the most immediate literary and visual ways of communicating accurate information. Throughout history, the asterisk has been used to clarify, elaborate on or cite sources for information the writer is providing, making sure that it is as transparent and comprehensive as possible. It’s one of the oldest known punctuation marks, but it resonates as much in the digital age as it does in written text.
Usually, where there’s one asterisk, there’s a second. The first, in the body of the text itself, (highlighting that there’s more to the story than meets the eye), and the second, at the bottom of the page, calling attention to the much needed clarification or elaboration.
The mark we created brings together these two asterisks, to reference not only the problem (false information) but also the means of correcting it (clarification).
We wanted First Draft’s new identity to underline the central role that words and narrative play in spreading responsible information, so we decided to commission a bespoke typeface with a unique character that might become synonymous with truth. We called it ‘First Hand’.
A sans serif in eight styles, it draws inspiration from the clarity and accessibility of classic public way-finding fonts, while incorporating a subtle nod to the more flamboyant, characterful moments of early sketches of these fonts, eg. the ampersand from Percy Smith’s ‘Petit-serif’ (1929), and the swooping ‘q’ from Johnston’s London Underground sketches, (1916).