36 Days of Type is an annual challenge that asks creatives to reimagine the alphabet and numbers 0-9 from a different perspective, sharing typographic inspiration from all around the world through social media. And this year we teamed up with our clients at KinderCare – America’s leading private childhood and early education provider – to reimagine these familiar symbols from the perspective of children.
The KinderCare business is built on care and emotional connection, and has a strong prioritization for the arts within STEAM. Its playful and colorful design system, which we created with the team in 2019, uses a system of simple building blocks drawn from their distinctive bell tower logo to help build confidence for life. We took the five iconic shapes from the brand’s visual identity system plus the simple marker pen doodle and duplicated, rearranged and combined them into 36 completely unique ways to bring our letterforms to life.
Each letter was specially chosen to be easily identifiable and relatable to children who are learning to read. We used a mix of animals and objects that they would be familiar with whilst also sprinkling in a little extra creative magic so that our letterforms maintained a sense of playfulness and surprise for each reveal.
Our numbers were crafted to highlight important aspects of childhood education and KinderCare’s role in creating that supportive environment, and also to provide a literal quantity a child could easily connect to. Eight, for example, is represented by the eight planets of our solar system, but it also symbolizes the importance of nurturing curiosity and encouraging children to explore.
During the process, it was important for us not to become too abstracted from the original symbol to make sure that children could see the letter, identify what it is and what it represents. For example, we chose a Goose to represent G as its long winding neck celebrates the true shape of the symbol better than a Gorilla, Goldfish or Glove. Designing each character with only the brand’s building blocks created restrictions that allowed for unique solutions and resulted in something a bit different to the usual animal alphabet illustrations you often see on nursery walls.
It was also important to us to bring each character to life further through animation. We mimicked a stop-motion technique with our digital assets to keep a child-like, handcrafted and joyful quality to each letterform. The additional layer of personality became something that people following along could look forward to seeing on each day of the 36-day project, which were shared from the KinderCare Instagram account.
KinderCare supports kids every day – from learning the alphabet and writing their names to setting them on a path to express themselves and begin to tell their own stories with their own words – and we’re proud to have been able to contribute and support them in this pursuit.
By Jea Hyun, Senior Designer at Design Bridge New York.
Project overseen by Jemma Campbell, Creative Director at Design Bridge New York.
If you’d like to join Jea, Jemma and the team in NYC, check our Careers page for the latest opportunities.