|Designer(s)||Gerry Barney et al.|
VAG Rundschrift or VAG Rounded (Rundschrift is German for 'round writing') is a geometric sans-serif typeface that was designed as a corporate typographic voice for the Volkswagen AG motor manufacturer.
It features rounded termini on all strokes. Volkswagen ended its use of the VAG Rounded family in the early 1990s, and it is widely available today and is licensed through Adobe Systems.
In 1964, Volkswagen AG bought Auto Union GmbH from Daimler Benz. The main active brand of Auto Union was DKW, but it was soon dropped by Volkswagen and replaced by Auto Union's dormant Audi brand. In the early 1970s, the dealer organizations of Volkswagen and Audi merged. In the following years, Volkswagen AG re-thought their future strategy. They envisioned buying several car companies to round out their offerings. They also envisioned selling a multitude of brands under giant dealer roofs. The new dealer organization, financial services, and all other non-car related activities were to come under one branded umbrella. Eventually, Volkswagen intended to use this umbrella as the name of their holding company: General Motors in reverse.
GGK Düsseldorf was tasked with the branding concept. Finding a distinct typeface was an integral part. Volkswagen at the time had Futura as their typeface. Audi at the time used Times. The new typeface should not be sans serif as the Futura, and it should not be serif as the Times. A rounded typeface did not exist at the time; it had to be developed. The original idea was conceived by Wolf Rogosky (creative director) and Gerd Hiepler (art director). Over several years, the identity concept was refined by Bertel Schmitt (creative director) and Manfred Schwarzer (art director). The original typeface was rendered by hand. It was then perfected on a PDP-8 minicomputer.
In 1978, the whole Volkswagen and Audi Dealer Organization worldwide was re-branded as V.A.G using the distinct V.A.G Rounded (or V.A.G Rundschrift) as the font for all signage, and for all headlines in their advertising. The V.A.G logo did not use the font. Worldwide availability of the font was a problem. To solve the problem, V.A.G Rounded was put in the public domain. As Desktop Publishing emerged in the mid 1980s, V.A.G Rounded was included in most free font packages and became widely used for that reason. A free modern implementation is MgOpen Modata.
The meaning of V.A.G was never officially disclosed. Theories ranged from "Volkswagen AG" (although the official name of the company during this time was "Volkswagenwerk AG") to "Volkswagen Audi Group." At Volkswagen, insiders joked that V.A.G means Von Adolf Gegründet ("Founded by Adolf"). Bertel Schmitt revealed that the V.A.G name was intentionally ambiguous to avoid rewriting dealer contracts as a legal consequence of the holding company's name change.
In 1992, when most dealerships worldwide had finally changed to their new signage, the concept of V.A.G and with it the use of the font was quietly scrapped. With brands such as Audi, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, SEAT, Škoda, Scania and MAN, Volkswagen AG had realized its vision of many brands. However, they decided to sell them in separate dealer networks and through rival marketing organizations. The vision of many brands under one huge roof was left to the auto malls that became common in the USA and later in Europe. One ambiguity which remains from the era of V.A.G is that many parts on Volkswagen Group vehicles - regardless of brand - are still stamped with the logos of both Volkswagen and Audi - thus suggesting that the dominance of the two brands is intentional, giving weight to the former argument that V.A.G did indeed stand for "Volkswagen Audi Group".
The typeface was used for the Volkswagen and Audi Dealer Organization, and for all non-car related activities of Volkswagen, such as the V.A.G Bank and V.A.G Leasing. The typeface was conceived in a general overhaul of Volkswagen’s corporate identity.
With many recent Web 2.0 startups, a clear trend in their new logos is the use of soft, rounded typefaces dominated by VAG Rounded, which is said to "lend a modern friendliness to what might otherwise be a cold trademark"  and, as of 2007[update], can be seen on T-Mobile USA literature. Apple Inc. has been utilizing the typeface on the keyboards of their line of notebook computers since 1999, with the release of the first-generation iBook, and on their desktop keyboards since August 2007. Australian retailer Big W has changed their logo (previously in Helvetica Neue) to light blue VAG Rounded. Dick Smith, as part of the Woolworths Limited Group, also use this font in most of their advertising. Bankwest also use this font for their "Happy Banking Initiative". As of Late 2006, Adecco also use the font in their publications and advertisements. It also used on early episodes of BrainPOP.
VAG Rounded is one of the font used in Rede Globo.
Also, the typeface was used by Jollibee as a secondary text for its menu, and used a modified version of the font as the typeface of its famous logo, accompanied by the famous "Jollibee face" symbol, first used in 1997. The text and the symbol were again modified in 2011, as Jollibee unveiled a new logo that year.
- Schmitt, B. (2009). VW/Porsche: Auto Union? What the NSFW?. The Truth About Cars. Retrieved May 17, 2009, from thetruthaboutcars.com
- The Fontfeed, March 7, 2006. fontshop.com