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 modifying it to suit their taste and vision. Soon enough, the font gets associated with the brand in no time.
One of the most ubiquitous fonts that famous brands use is the Helvetica font. Formerly known as Die Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica is a sans-serif typeface that was developed by Max Miedinger, a Swiss typeface designer with a contribution from Eduard Hoffman in 1957. It was created at the Hass-type foundry (known as Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei) of Münchenstein, Switzerland.
Haas’sche Schriftgiessrei was controlled by Stempel, a type foundry that was also in the control of Linotype. Helvetica was based meticulously on Schelter-Grotesk and created as a neutral typeface with no specific meaning in itself. The idea behind the neutrality of the Helvetica font was that they were not meant to give any meaning.
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, i.e., Latin for Switzerland, 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, ” i.e., Latin for Swiss became the acceptable name for the sans serif typeface. In 2007, a feature-length film which was directed by Gary Hustwit was released in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Helvetica typeface.
The creation of the Helvetica font was influenced by the Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface, created in 1898 by Berthold. Its bold, clean, and modern look makes it a favorite among designers and this has made this acclaimed VIP of fonts enjoy worldwide acceptance and presence. Big corporations and independent firms from all over the world have made this font a part of our daily lives as well as culture.
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.
Here are the names of the famous brands that use Helvetica font as a commercial wordmark:
1. Lufthansa Airlines
2. American Apparel
4. Harley Davidson
5. Skype: Derived from Helvetica
9. Nestle: Derived from Helvetica
12. General Motors
Even the United State government is not left out as the federal tax forms use the Helvetica font, as well as NASA (on the Space Shuttle orbiter). As the most widely-used sans serif typeface, versions of Helvetica exist for Japanese, Korean, Latin, Hindi, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Greek, and even Chinese faces.
The MTA (i.e., Metropolitan Transportation Authority) adopted the Helvetica typeface back in 1989 since it allowed them to quickly unify their different train operations which were using different fonts at that time. Before then, Standard Medium was the standard font that was in use.
Helvetica will continue to be used for a long time to come as it maintains its boldness and obviousness in any font size, and is easy to read for almost everyone.
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