Sprog-casts: Pentagram designs audio player for children

Yoto and Pentagram have teamed up on industrial design, innovative branding and visual identity to launch the premium, screen-free, interactive audio player for children

The Yoto Player, designed by Pentagram
The Yoto Player, designed in partnership with design agency Pentagram
(Image credit: pentagram.com)

Podcasts have long been making noise on the grown-up airways. Now, thanks to The Yoto Player, your toddler can become a podler. Founded in 2015, Yoto provides premium, screen-free audio solutions for children. After achieving full funding in just a few days of its 2017 Kickstarter campaign, The Yoto Player is now landing in playrooms everywhere, with a little help from design agency Pentagram.

Collaborating with Yoto CEO Ben Drury and CCO Tom Ballhatchet, Pentagram was involved at every stage – from branding, to packaging, to the interface. Adopting a research-led process, they interviewed ten families and children from the ages of 21 months to seven years to understand what was important to them regarding children’s entertainment and education, which in turn informed the interface and design.

Together, the team landed on an easy to use, smiley-faced devise that put kids in the driving seat. Even young children are able to place multimedia content cards (categorised into stories, music, podcast, activities, sound effects and radio) into the top of the player, twisting the two nozzles for basic audio control. Apparently understanding the wild opportunities presented by user generated content, The Yoto Player also boasts a ‘Make Your Own’ card, allowing children to draw and upload their bespoke, homemade content. (There is an off switch, too).

‘It’s not often that you get to work with a company that’s solving something that affects your home life so directly’ – Jody Hudson-Powell

This is more than another distracting media player; education is engrained in every detail. Castledown typeface by Colophon Foundry was selected, as it is aligned with the Montessori principles that letterforms should mimic the action of drawing letters, as children first learn to write.

The project was a personal one for Pentagram partner Jody Hudson-Powell. ‘It’s not often that you get to work with a company that’s solving something that affects your home life so directly,’ she explains. ‘Both Luke Powell (partner, Pentagram) and I have young families, and we instantly felt really passionate about the product and its potential. The challenge we set ourselves was to create an identity that worked for the entire family – hopefully we got that right.’




Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.