The character. Is it really possible to change Pimpa?

We met Francesco Tullio Altan at the Maxxi, at the Pimpa, Cipputi e altri pensatori (Pimpa, Cipputi and other thinkers) exhibition, for which we created the exhibition set-up and catalogue.

When Franco Cosimo Panini, the publisher of Pimpa, asked us to rework its identity, we asked ourselves: how can we intervene on a great classic while preserving its iconic nature and its role in the collective imagination?

Is it really possible to change Pimpa? Because, whether you call her ‘La Pimpa’ or just ‘Pimpa’, there is no child who is not familiar with the cute spotty dog.

Bearing this in mind, we rolled up our sleeves, determined, as Altan says to ‘get things right’.

The logo

The world of Pimpa features a huge number of publications. We therefore started from the material at our disposal by investigating the outcome of years of build-up. The initial decision not to make any changes to the logo was soon replaced by the idea that Pimpa needed a new look without losing its visual legacy. And so, the new logo took shape, a return to the simple lines and colours of the original Pimpa.

The black outline of the original logo was discarded in favour of a single-colour version. We worked on the structure by redesigning the letters, opened the counters of the ‘P’ and ‘A’, and adjusted the centring of the ‘i’. The result is a more modern logo, designed to renew its identity without losing recognition of the original brand.

Altan's signature is always included, aligned to the right and re-dimensioned in proportion to the overall size. The colours, apart from black, are those of Pimpa: red for spots and yellow for inner contours.

The work also involved the publisher's logo, which is always present with the brand on all products. The classic sun of Franco Cosimo Panini was adapted by Altan’s pencil and customised by giving it a Pimpa-style twist.

The typography

In addition to redesigning the logo, our work focused on bringing uniformity and making the catalogue and the huge number of publications more functional and recognisable.

So, we decided to introduce a single font for all Pimpa publishing products, one that could be adapted to all titles and different communication needs arising from the varied production, ranging from classic hardback mini-cube books to colouring books. We chose Vag Rounded Next by Monotype, an extended version of the 1970s classic Vag Rounded, already featured in Pimpa publications.

This version includes a greater variation in weights and glyphs. The set also features two lowercase alternatives for the letter ‘a’, enabling us to use it according to the readability guidelines for the 6-8 age group.

In conjunction with Vag Rounded Next, we decided to enhance Altan's handwriting, an integral part of stories about Pimpa. This led to the creation of Altan Sans, produced in collaboration with Officine Bolzoni, a complete font based on Altan's original calligraphy, and an additional tool to support the new graphic layout.

Altan Sans offers several contextual alternatives, which make it more fluid and readable while respecting the characteristics of handwriting.

Putting things in order

A very substantial part of our work involved cataloguing publications, especially the choice of features to be prioritised in order to achieve uniformity and recognisability.

After a thorough analysis of the catalogue, we decided to subdivide the world of Pimpa into areas of interest, or more simply macro-collections. These macro-collections were established according to the activities proposed in the individual publishing products.

Collections

All the covers were redesigned and reworked to meet the criteria of visibility and uniformity. A fixed proportion was established for the logo, title and signature, which adapts to the different communication needs of the individual products, yet maintains the visual uniformity shared by all the products.

The space on the outside back cover was redistributed. Important information and some new features were introduced, such as the logo of the macro-collections and, where possible, a short biography and a self-portrait of the author.

The spots, an iconic element of the character, are the protagonists of the new visual identity of Pimpa. The decision to include them on the spine and end sheets arose from the need to make Pimpa products more recognisable. In this way, the volumes, positioned next to each other, create uniform visual areas that are easier to identify.

Reading is such a pleasure

The interiors have been completely restyled. Each page has been subdivided into modular elements, with proportions designed to make reading easier. The modular structure makes a range of solutions always available. They can be adapted to all format needs, particularly as regards the relationship between the text and illustrations.

Lower case letters were introduced and any excess elements that made independent reading more difficult for the target age groups were removed from the text. In addition to setting a fixed font size, we worked on the relationship between the font body and line spacing in order to make texts more readable, whether short sentences or entire pages.

Getting things right

The work on the catalogue and the visual identity of Pimpa was undertaken with the idea that it should be something designed to last. Pimpa is an iconic character whose image is now established in the collective imagination. In the same way, the visual layout that accompanies her must be able to reflect this iconic nature.

We therefore produced a style manual that not only outlines the input of new elements but also serves as a veritable instruction manual about the world of Pimpa. It was designed to last and adapt to the growing needs of a character that still has many stories to tell.