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Founded in 2000, AO is a large, high-profile online-only retailer specialising in white goods and electricals. Headquartered in Bolton, Lancashire, it runs multiple businesses in the UK and Germany, and is known for its commitment to fridge recycling.


With a diverse range of subsidiaries working under the AO umbrella, the team wanted the brand to work harder and more consistently across the company. DesignStudio travelled up to Bolton and duly won the pitch to revamp everything from photography to tone of voice.

The Brief

Typography was set to play a major role in the rebrand. AO were looking for a font that enabled a distinctive and consistent brand personality/look and feel. It needed to be fun, friendly and distinctively AO.


  • Silver, Transform Awards, 2021

  • Delivery

    When we approached F37, we were looking to create distinction and consistency in our visual language and we recognised that our typeface was going to play a big part in delivering that. We couldn’t be happier with the solution that the team delivered. We were looking for a font solution that expressed the balance of our brand strategy. Smiley Face captures a perfect blend of our brand principles. Our font embodies our trustworthy smile along with our ‘full of beans’ personality. It’s very easy to read in all weights and at all sizes on and offline. The Headline weight especially allows us to emphasise our personality and playful spirit in larger applications. The design provides the right amount of character and quirks in each letterform, allowing ease-of-use in all applications and helping us to create a look that is uniquely ours. We love our new typeface; our creative teams really enjoy working with it and the rest of the business couldn’t wait to get their hands on it! It’s a key ingredient of our new identity and it’s helped to transform how we look and feel. F37 are a great partner, very easy to work with, making quality deliveries on time, regardless of the challenges we threw at them.

    Simon Vaughan — Head of Brand Creative, AO

    Working alongside DesignStudio, we created a family of fonts called Smiley Face that managed to strike a fine balance by being characterful without slipping into childishness. Taking its cue from the AO logo, it features curved crossbars, slightly smiley descenders and a series of subtle, quirky touches.

    Smiley Face comes in nine different weights, including a playful headline version. This is packed with coded OpenType ‘smiley’ discretionary ligatures to enhance the warm, fun feel of the brand. It’s been carefully considered and designed to fit with the rest of the visual language of the brand.

    In true AO-style, the internal team are buzzed and ready to go. The company now has the tools to really express their fun personality, within a modern, digitally focussed brand.

    Smiley Face HeadlineLigaturesSmiley Face FamilyCharacter map
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