Belarusian Railway
custom typeface design

Belarusian Railway is major railway operator in Belarus. In 2015–2016 Belarusian Raliway together with TDI Design agency started a large redesign project. Koval Typefaces for Brands was chosen as a consultunt for typeface licensing. After wide research of licensing possibilities we've found out that it's more rational to design a custom typefaces for Belarusian Railway. It would be cost-effective and will reveal brand's communications in more unique way than regular DIN-based typeface.

Case Study

1. Initial research


First proposal of TDI Design was to use some DIN-like typeface. After studying avaliable options and going into deeper understanding of Belarusian Railway brand we at Koval Typefaces for Brands proposed rather narrow DIN-derived geometric sans with much more open aperture. 

2. Tone-of-Type design

According to Tone-of-Type method emotional parameters of the typeface are to be set first. 


The whole architecture of rounded glyphs is based on rather narrow O with straight sides. Narrowed characters give more modest/sufficient impression. While almost mechanically straightened side curves bring mechanical precision.


An extremely low contrast (horizontal stems to vertical stems widths ratio is about 97%) is used to reduce emotionality and enrich tonality with «professionalism».


Low contrast sans serifs with strong geometrical basis are fine, but for Belarusian Railway brand needed a bit of humanist touch, showing more openness to communication. So Belarusian Railway typeface will have extremely open aperture. This will compensate to machinery look of the type and will give more warm impression. According  to Tone-of-type method, a wider aperture gives more open-to-communications feel. Narrow geometrical shapes reveal rhythm and sufficiency. Low contrast gives impression of constant tonality without any extra emotions. Pure message.

3. Defining parameters

3.1. Next the necessary design features are to be defined.

The typeface will be used for text purposes. So it will need rather wide range of weight styles. Light and Bold for headers and leads, regular for body text. 5 weights in total.

True italics it next use work better, than slanted. So every weight should be represented in regular and italic styles.


For media with limited space condensed styles should be presented.


So Belarusian Railway Typeface will have 15 styles to cover majority of cases.

4. Design process


Main design details are set on tone-of-type & parameters research. It's time to go deep into details. There are several basic characters which contain most of stylistic elements for all the glyphs. So there's no need to design all the charset to catch design idea. 


This draft characters used to proof tone-of-type research and to mock up texts to get overall impression of the future typeface.


Based on a key glyphs the whole character set was developed. Also the lightest and boldest weights were set to proceed through Multiple Master technology.


New custom designed typeface substituted DIN in logo together with switch from Russian to Belarusian language.

5. Result

As a result, Belarusian Railway got custom typeface family, that covered 99.99% of brand's communications. Various font formats and wide range of styles made Belarusian Railway typefamily app-ready, website-proof (webfont formats) and signage and navigation ready by design. Some of materials, used to illustrate font's possibilities could be found above.