George Mason’s Typographic Mess

The unveil of George Mason new logo was bad, the rollout gets worse. Its typography is all over the place.

Acumin Pro and Kandal are for printing. Figtree, Open Sans, and Noto Serif are for the web. Poppins and Noto Serif are for Canva. Franklin Gothic and Cambria are for Microsoft Office. Why do we need two sans-serif faces (Figtree and Open Sans) for the web? Why not just two typefaces (Acumin Pro and Kandal) across all platforms?

What a mess.

The Director

I am getting pretty damn comfortable in the director chair. When I first stepped into the role, I worried that I didn’t have the skills to lead. I had always been a hands-on designer and developer. As I started to connect with other directors and higher ups, I learned that their main job was talking shit. I had seen so many directors pulling shit out of their ass without an ounce of embarrassment. I realized that I could do that shit too. I just needed to grow thick skin.

Even though I no longer need to be hands-on, I am responsible for leading the design and development processes. I need to make sure our codes are up to standard, our technologies are up to date and secured, and our products meet accessibility and usability. I often speak out in meetings, provide design feedback, and propose technological solutions. Essentially, I talk a lot of shit, but I know my shit and I can back it up. When designers and developers told me that certain things can’t be done, I proved to them that things can be done. I have the advantage that I don’t just talk the talk, but I can also walk the walk.

I still keep up my design and technical skills. I still run, update, and upgrade cloud servers for my own websites. I still design and code all of my projects. When I die, I hope one of my sons will take over all of my digital intellectual properties. Đán will most likely be the one.

Job Clarendon Text

For April, David Jonathan Ross sent out Job Clarendon Text to members of the Font of the Month Club. As much as I appreciated David’s wild display typefaces, I always loved when he sent us text faces. Job Clarendon started out as a display typeface for huge text such as posters and flyers, but now the text version pushes the slab serif family to a whole new level. Finding a slab serif text face is isn’t easy. Finding a slab serif text face with the full Vietnamese diacritics is just so rare. Of course, I have to feature it on the type recommendation section of Vietnamese Typography.

Neue DIN Wins iF Award

Big shout out to the team at Fontwerk for picking up the iF Design Award 2024 for Neue DIN. I contributed a small part in Neue DIN’s Vietnamese diacritics. I wish Neue DIN has an oblique companion so I can feature it in type recommendation section of Vietnamese Typography. Congratulations, nevertheless!

The Cascade Blog

Last week, Robin Rendle launched The Cascade, a member supported blog about the past, present, and future of CSS. I didn’t hesitate to become a member to support his work.

I have been following Robin’s writing for a while. I subscribed to his personal site and newsletters. Robin is a skillful writer. Even when he writes about typography and CSS, his style is always approachable. Furthermore, I always appreciated his honesty in life, design, and career.

I am glad that he started The Cascade so I can keep myself up to date with CSS features that I haven’t heard of yet. I have not followed the web industry since the rise of frameworks like React. I am still crafting my webpages by hands with semantic markups and CSS presentations. This approach is still accessible and fast.

George Mason Rebranded

When I heard George Mason working on rebranding a few years ago, I predicted it wouldn’t be good. Today the new logo was revealed and it’s shockingly bad.

The university claims to create a brand for the future, but the “GM” monogram appears to be stuck in the 80s. The use of green and gold colors on the outlined typeface makes the monogram appear more amateurish than prestigious.

The connection between “G” and “M” doesn’t feel natural. The two letters were forced together instead of being “All Together Different” as the university has claimed.

Now we are stuck with a bad brand.

Some Small Design Updates

Stephen Nixon just released a new version of Lang Gothic and it supports Vietnamese. As a result, I switched from Name Sans to Lang Gothic on this blog. I like the combination of Lang and Lang Gothic.

Yesterday I made some updates to Pro Web Type. I made some further changes by replacing Forma DJR. Chiaroscuro with Bild, both by David Jonathan Ross. Bild has a width variable axis that allows me to lock in the title of the book.

A Simple Request

Yesterday, I went to Breeze, one of my favorite Korean bakeries, to pick up a birthday cake for my son. After choosing a chocolate cake and paying for it, I asked the cashier if I could put some words on the cake. She handed me a piece of paper and a pen. I wrote down, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO XUÂN.”

She told me they can’t do the thing on the letter A. I said to her, “You can’t draw two connected lines,” as I held up my hands above my head to show her the circumflex. She said, “We can only do English words.” I replied, “99% of the text is English. I just need one tiny diacritic.” Again, she said, “No, only English words. We don’t want to mess up.” I thought to myself, “She’s Korean. She’s not even American,” but I insisted, “I already paid for the cake. It’s fine if it is messed up.” She still declined.

Five minutes later, she handed me the cake. I peeped into it and the text reads, “Happy Birthday To Xuân” with the circumflex on the letter a. With delight, I said to her, “That’s perfect. Please say thanks to the cake decorator.” With a bit of defeat, she replied, “Only this time. Not next time.” I smiled and replied, “Well, there won’t be next time because I won’t come back.”

If she can’t accommodate a small request, I don’t need to buy a cake here even though this is one of my favorite bakeries. I was not asking her to draw a complicated Nôm character. I asked for a simple diacritical mark.

Adobe Animate

Recently Đán asked me for a copy of Adobe Animate. He wanted to do some cartoon animations. I am cool with that—as long as he’s not spending time on his computer playing video games too much.

Yesterday, I discovered that Animate is the new Flash. Why didn’t know know about Animate until my son asked me for it? All this time, I had the impression that Adobe killed Flash, but they made the right decision to keep it as an animated tool.

When I opened up Animate, the Flash interface brought back so much memories. I used to spend so much of my free time learning Flash and creating slideshows and typographic motions. Now Đán is doing similar thing. I hope he will joy and passion in Animate.

I played around with Animate a bit last night and it is quite a time-sucker. I am not sure if I want to get back to it, but I am happy to see it is still around. I might pick it up again in the future to create simple animations.

Questions for Design Review

Since the design mockups are secretive, I prepared questions to ask during the “unveil” meeting. These questions are strictly for the designer who doesn’t code.


  • Had you conducted any research for the redesign? If yes, can you share something you had found?


  • Have you used an accessibility tool like WebAim to check your color contrast?


  • Are we getting rid of the quick links, which is one of the most frequent use navigational item on the current site
  • How does the menu function on mobile devices?
  • Are repeated links in the footer necessary? The Nielsen Norman Group suggests, “Eliminate redundancy on webpages whenever possible to reduce cognitive overload. Each extra link makes your site harder to use.”


  • How are you planning on hosting the fonts? Local or third-party?
  • Will we be using static or variable fonts?
  • Do the fonts support beyond English? Do they include diacritics? We have quite a few faculty and staff names with diacritics such as: Helen Alvaré, Seán O’Connor, and Tammy Trần


  • We use tables for various tabular data such as course schedules. Do you have a mock-up for tables? How do tables respond to various devices? How do you sort each table column?
  • Do you have a mock-up for the faculty and staff bio page? How do you list their credentials and bio?
  • Do you have a mock-up for an emergency message at the top of the site?
  • Do you have a mock-up for a spotlight story? Are there options for including photos—algin left, align right, or full width?
  • Do you have a mock-up for the events section?
  • Do you have a mock-up for secondary pages?


  • Do we use responsive images for banners? How do they look on mobile vs. desktop?

Design System


  • What is the max width of the site?
  • Are there flexibilities for the layout?
  • Can we drop the sidebar for a full-width design?
  • Can we switch the columns around?
  • Is there a grid pattern we can choose?