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Helvetica is Everywhere

While watching the Helvetica documentary, I was so shocked by the prevalence of the typeface in everyday life. I must see Helvetica at least one hundred times a day – I just never took the time to notice it was the same typeface appearing over and over again. Not only is Helvetica the typeface for Urban Outfitters, my favorite store, but it also appears in the NYC subway system, in the American Airlines logo, and in countless other advertisements that I frequently see. This really opened my eyes to the fact that I’m quite oblivious to the crazy amount of thought that goes into choosing typefaces for different logos and advertisements. I never looked at the Urban Outfitters sign and thought, “Wow, that type is so legible!” But if the Helvetica was replaced with, say, the Beowulf typeface featured in Lupton, Urban Outfitters’ sign would likely be unattractive and difficult to read. Before watching the documentary and reading Lupton, I never realized how important typefaces are to conveying a brand’s message.

 

There was one part of the Helvetica documentary that instantly reminded me of the first Lupton chapter. In the documentary, one of the designers was talking about the versatility of Helvetica; he said you could say I love you in Helvetica, and you could say I love you in Helvetica Extra Light if you want to be classier, and you could say it with Helvetica Extra Bold if you want to be passionate. This reminded me of a paragraph in Lupton, where she says the goal is to find a match between the style of the letters and the social situation at hand. While many typefaces can only fit a specific social situation due to their shape and general appearance, Helvetica is perfect enough to be used for almost anything.

jilliancomoletti

2 Comments

  1. Yes, I definitely agree with you. Without graphic design education, we don’t realize that we see the same typeface everywhere. And this is why we need to learn about it.

  2. One of the coolest parts of the movie was the fact that they could match a Helvetica typeface to any occasion or social situation. This is completely true and I never would have thought of it that way. I wouldn’t write I love you in an “ugly” typeface because it may not look like what the words are trying to express.

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