NYC Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual 1970

JUNE 24, 2013

About as clean and detailed as anyone could get, this manual for the iconic NYC subway system is the work of legendary designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. Timeless and perfect, there is no better signage system in my view. This site, featuring an original printed copy of the manual, is absolutely fantastic. It takes you from a well thought out system overview to the intricacies of kerning every possible letter combination (and putting in an easily digestible grid) to the precise construction of elements as humble as the arrow. All this is done with the goal of simplifying a complex system for the efficiency of its users.
Often times clients will tell me, “I just need a logo.” I don’t do that, because that’s not what they need and I am in the business of providing clients with what they need. While the logo is probably the single most important part of a company’s visual identity, even the greatest logo without consistent application is a failure. What is Coca-Cola without red or UPS without brown? What is the NYC Subway without colored discs? The purpose of consistent design elements is to create recognition and build trust. For this reason I don’t do “just a logo” work. When you hire C Davis Designs for your graphic identity, a graphic standards manual is part of the package – fonts, color specifications, application rules – all this at a minimum. Will it be a 168 page tome? No, but there will be a graphic standards manual and it will be appropriate to the needs of the client, big or small.

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