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Helvetica at 60

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2017 marks 60 years since the introduction of one of the most recognisable and well-used typefaces.

In its honour, we thought we’d take a quick look at the history of Helvetica and consider its influence on design.

Developed by Max Miedinger with help from Eduard Hoffmann in 1957, Helvetica was influenced by a 19th century typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk (itself a pretty popular font!). Its own influence on the world would extend far further than from where it was conjured in Münchenstein, Switzerland.

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This icon of sans-serif is ubiquitous. It’s used across fashion, transport, telecoms, government and beyond. A quick name-check of who has or has had Helvetica as part of the branding is like a who’s who of 20th century brands:

3M, American Apparel, Panasonic, Jeep, Kawasaki, Texaco, American Airlines, Tupperware, VICE, Currys, Lufthansa, Nestlé, Orange, BMW… they have all used Helvetica or adapted versions as part of their logos and brand identity. Apple used Helvetica as the typeface for iOS until 2015. They’ve since shifted to their own San Francisco typeface (which just so happens to take a lead from Helvetica). Its universality is testament to its beautiful simplicity and seamless flow.

Its adaptability is remarkable, too. Since ’57, a huge range of variants on the original have been introduced and non-Latin alphabets have been incorporated.

Mind you, it does have some detractors. But even they must begrudgingly admit that Helvetica has had a long-lasting impact on the design world.

We’ve used it for many projects, both at our clients’ request and through our own choice. Holly Hughes, editor of What’s On in Swansea, spoke of her love for Helvetica at a recent Design Swansea - there’s no confusion as to what we use for their main typeface! We also used Helvetica for a recent brand guidelines project, just to make them that little bit clearer.


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Needless to say, we have a special place in our heart for Helvetica. Here’s what our design team had to say…

  • Rosie: I am a bit in love with Helvetica Neue! I love the simplicity of the typeface, especially the thinner weights.
  • Sophie: Clean, legible and universal – sooo many weights and variants.
  • Rhian: Sooooo in ♥ with the curve in the ‘a’. Providing clarity and simplicity. Max Miedinger you are a true type legend!
  • Rhianna: Helvetica is my trusty go-to sans serif font!
  • Leah: Stood the test of time and will continue too! Perfectly proportioned, clean and timeless. I quite like Helvetica Black myself - it’s solid!

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We’re not the only ones singing its praises on its 60th anniversary. Among the heaps of tributes to Helvetica are some amazing hat-tips. Husmee curated a wonderful poster collection, featuring design studios from across the world - take a look for yourself.

What do you think about Helvetica? Drop us a line or pop in for a chat and let us know.