No, We’re Not Kitten; There’s Now a Font Inspired by Cats
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 08/26/2019 | 4 Minute Read
Cats rule, dogs drool.
As if you needed any more reason to love those weird, furry felines in your life—the ones that thwack glasses of water off the table, the ones that run around at 2am yowling like maniacs, the ones that sit right in the center of your keyboard—now there’s a font inspired by cats. That’s right, Smalls, a high-protein natural cat food subscription service, debuted their custom font Adieu Smalls, which looks suspiciously cat-like.
“I saw an opportunity in our type to be a bit more playful,” said Miles Barretto, Lead Designer at Smalls. Miles developed the font in partnership with Good Type Foundry. “We already had the illustration and iconography to express the brand, but I wondered how we could push things further.”
By looking at images of cats and their body language—and specifically their tails—Miles recognized it was something he could translate into characters of the type for Smalls. Letters like M and N have an exaggerated curve to them, and others like A, S, and U have small “hooks” which resemble tails that break up the linear form of the text.
Adieu Smalls takes the physical movement of felines and their odd quirks, transforming it into something a cat person would look at and immediately recognize. “There are these unspoken facts owning cats,” explained Miles. “When I tell someone about my cat, there’s a universal nod to experiencing similar things with their pet, just in different variations.”
Take, for example, the way a cat nudges up against your leg or leaps atop a ledge—these visual nods helped to form the letters and appear throughout different levels in the grand architecture of the font. Ultimately, Miles wanted the font and the packaging, which he also designed, to have a cat-like personality.
“The biggest challenge was finding the right balance,” confessed Miles, “because these moments of surprise are meant to happen between regular characters. So we had to find a balance to make it unique, yet still legible.”
Working with Kenneth Knutsen at Good Type Foundry was an incredible asset, he added, making the process of finding that balance much more comfortable. Kenneth developed Adieu, so they were able to go back and forth making the tweaks which perfected the more feline-focused Adieu Smalls.
In addition to the font and the packaging, Miles also created a zine called Small Talk Magazine, the print accompaniment to the Small Talk blog.
“There was only a small amount of nicely designed and accessible content that didn’t feel dated in the cat community,” said Miles, “and that was our push to create the blog. So with Small Talk Magazine, we wanted to showcase a more contemporary and current approach of what a cat person is and translate that into a community.”
The publication profiles modern cat lovers, giving Smalls consumers a place to gather and bond over felines, but it's also a space for the life and style of others who adore cats.
Yes, people can nerd out about their cats, but they’re not one-dimensional; it's a place where even the most stereotyped cat-obsessed person can be more than that. Plus, readers can feel good knowing that Smalls partners with animal rescue organizations such as Cat Castle NYC for each issue.
Miles added that, while there is a lot in the dog food realm of products that go directly to the consumer, Smalls is one of the few that has this approach: direct to consumer with a brand community. It gives the brand a unique edge which makes buyers (and even potential buyers) feel welcome and right at home.
“It’s more than just the product,” he admitted. “We reach out to our customers, for instance, and ask if they want to be featured on the blog. So when someone joins Smalls, they also join this community, and we as a brand see them, and appreciate their cats as well.”