Whether you are aware of it or not, the ever-popular typeface Helvetica is used everywhere in the world. You breathe it in everyday during your life, so much in fact that it’s unnoticeably prominent. Signage, advertisements, company logos, and practically any surface that warrants some type of communication use Helvetica.
Why the rise in popularity? Helvetica was designed in 1957—post-war Europe. At that time, decorative and fancy typography was the go-to style used in advertisements—some were so far “out there” that it was hard to even read the message.
It was time for a change, and Helvetica provided just that. With its clean, neutral, and modern design, it remains legible both in standstill and in motion. Thus, this typeface could truly work well in all sorts of situations. However, with its abundant use, Helvetica has become known as the “safe” font, and hardly counts for originality points if used in a design competition. But it’s a good starter typeface for a beginning designer.
In 2007, a documentary film titled Helvetica explores the way type—specifically Helvetica—affects our lives, readability, and how it has made a global impact visually. I highly encourage you to check it out, as it really is a fascinating eye-opener on how much our lives are consumed by this typeface—most of us still unaware of the impact. Above are Helvetica examples that we see everyday. Any of these look familiar?