After a photo of the president’s handwritten note of talking points began going viral on Wednesday, creatives at Jones Knowles Ritchie saw a creative opportunity. A team of 11, from Detroit to the U.K. and many places in between, have released a note generator and custom typeface available free to use and download, so you create your own note in “a language Trump can understand—his own.”
The president’s note ostensibly rebutted Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that aid to Ukraine was tied to a quid pro quo. It read in large caps: “I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO. TELL ZELLINSKY [sic] TO DO THE RIGHT THING. THIS IS THE FINAL WORD FROM THE PRES OF THE U.S.”
Since then, the note and the style in which it was written have become the news of the day, rather than the president’s actual talking points. (Former Obama administration photographer Pete Souza directly compared what he called a “storytelling image” to a more verbose Obama note sample.)
So in a feat of typographic speed, Jones Knowles Ritchie set out to design a typeface (one of several inspired by the president’s handwriting) and website in response to the news cycle. “We all know the pace of branding and culture is getting faster and faster,” says Tosh Hall, the company’s global chief creative officer. “To make this happen in 48 hours is a testament to the ‘new normal’ for design and creativity.”
Part of what made the photo notable was that it revealed that the unique writing style the president uses online—the Twitter-friendly brevity of character count and a seemingly unpredictable all-caps emphasis—applies to good old pen on paper, too. For the website, called Final Word From the Pres, the Jones Knowles Ritchie team took those characteristics and automated them. The generator will autocorrect words, turning “we” to “I,” “Trump” to “Stable Genius,” “big” to “yuuge,” and “SNL” to “unfunny,” so the note you write is adapted to the president’s voice. But there are many more autocorrections, with over one hundred Easter eggs up for discovery as you uncover the distinctive language patterns of a very stable genius.
Beyond the dominance of capital letters, the Jones Knowles Ritchie team also sought to capture the idiosyncrasies of the president’s handwriting in the typeface Quid Pro Sans, which is also used in the generator. Some of the design nods to the handwritten note include rogue lowercase i’s and e’s, and B’s that read like an M that’s been rotated 90 degrees. “We think we’ve captured the voice of a president that will, for better or worse, be remembered for his unique communication style—and hopefully inspire people to have some fun with it,” says Hall. And while Quid Pro Sans is free to download, the team has requested a quid pro quo of their own—they suggest a $10 donation to the ACLU from those who download it.
The news moves fast these days, and design is adjusting to keep pace. On Thursday, type foundry Hoefler&Co. tweeted “In the future, everything will be a font for fifteen minutes.” That statement was tweeted before Quid Pro Sans was made publicly available. So I tried putting that into the note generator. The “Trumpified” note read back: “In the future, everynocollusion will be a font for fifteen minutes.” It’s hard to know what the president will say next, but so far, this tool is pretty on-brand.