Helvetica

Helvetica or not to Helvetica?

That seems to be the question and the hot topic around the Maga office that has designers, interns, and our CEO voicing their opinions about this controversial font.  

Spurred on by the article here: Why I Hate Helvetica

It got everyone talking about the place of Helvetica in the status quo and what types of feelings people have about the use, or misuse, of this font.  Our designer, Steve, pointed out that it Helvetica is taught in art school as an industry standard and this article is a voice of frustration of rigid past models. However, it goes to show that there are strong feelings for and against its use from designers and non-designers alike.  Font, color and design are such an important part of a brand and can have unknown or unexpected consequences or benefits from audiences.

For those opposing Helvetica, the argument is that Helvetica was developed in the past for corporate use and has been over used ever since.   The article argues that the font is an embodiment of 1960’s technology, 1960’s aesthetics and 1960’s principles.  The world has changed drastically since then, but the design realm is stuck in this Don Draper fonts of the 1960’s.  Like any font there are positive and negative identifiers that go along with it.  No font is a completely neutral design, if it were neutral designers probably wouldn’t use it!  While many people argue that Helvetica is a neutral design elements it is not. Helvetica, instead, has just as many attachments as a font like Papyrus or Comic Sans.

On the other hand, to play devils advocate, the point of design is to communicate effectively.  If Helvetica accurately gets a message across to a group of individuals is it bad?  It’s a true sans serif font that can be read in any aesthetic and it contains successful elements of simplified typographic forms and shapes.  Designers may just be tired of it because it is used in so many design outlets and branding.

Brands that use a type of Helvetica in their logos.  Image from: Best Font Forward

Good, bad or indifferent, how do you feel about Helvetica?

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