The fonts you choose for both your content and logo portray who you are as a brand. This is why big brands are careful and extremely particular about the fonts they choose. While many would expect such big brands to set about creating their customized typography given the resources that are at their disposal (some brands like Yahoo! and Heineken have opted for this), a majority of these brands prefer using an existing font and modify it to suit their taste and vision. Soon enough, the font gets associated with the brand in no time.
One of the most present fonts that famous brands use is the Helvetica font. Formerly known as Die Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica is a sans-serif typeface which was developed by Max Miedinger, a Swiss typeface designer with contribution from Eduard Hoffman in 1957. It was created at the Hass type foundry (known as Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei) of Münchenstein, Switzerland.
The name Die Haas Grotesk was converted to Helvetica by the marketing director at Stempel in 1960. The reason behind this change was to market the font on an international scale. At first, it was put forward that the typeface should be named Helvetia (meaning Switzerland in Latin), but creative professionals were not in support of this designation as they deemed it improper to name the font after a country. Therefore, the name “Helvetica” (meaning Swiss in Latin) became the acceptable name for the sans serif typeface.
There are lots of theories which try to explain why Helvetica is the typeface of choice for many huge brands and designers. A creative digital officer at McGarry Bowen has stated that the Helvetica font is recognizable by anyone who has used Facebook and other social media platforms and therefore looks welcoming to all and sundry.
Lots of big brand companies use Helvetica, but we will sample 11 extremely famous logos that all derived from Helvetica, a sample that shows how a single typeface can work across industries from motorcycles (Harley-Davidson) to makeup (LUSH).
The usage and results are varied: some hardly resemble Helvetica anymore at all, while others tweak the typeface only ever so slightly. Even tiny adjustments of kerning (the space between letters) or ligatures (connections between letters), not to mention color, can make a huge difference.
As a technique, you can take a basic typeface and turn it into logo potential through the following types of tweaks:
- Tightened kerning (the distance between letters)
- Unique alignment (like in the North Face logo)
- Added ligatures (connected letters)
- Modified glyphs (slightly changing the shape of the letters)
- An emblem or other graphic component
That’s just to name a few, and of course, the exact route you take will depend on your brand and brief.
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