Helvetica® pt. 2

Helvetica® pt. 2

by malick sylvain

At the peak of its popularity, Helvetica was ditched by some of the largest corporations and replaced with a typography that featured subtle variants. In part 2 of "Helvetica", we will examine the variations in those fonts and the motivation behind designing and using your own in-house font.

Apple, Google, Coke, Youtube, CNN, Netflix, IBM and airbnb are some of the most noteworthy companies that decided to move from Helvetica and transition to their own Font.


Macintosh computer by Apple had a licensed version of Helvetica programmed as the default font on all their devices. But with time Apple's trajectory took the path of smaller and smaller devices with the introduction of the iPod, the iPhone and finally the apple watch. Helvetica proved itself to be hard to read on smaller screens because of its large boxy look and letter spacing. 

In 2015, apple announced on stage the introduction of San Francisco. A thinner font and taller letters to appease to eye on smaller screens while also providing great legibility. 

The font is now displayed on all OS devices and whether you are sending iMessages, typing notes, using Maps or listening to apple music, your apple device is feeding you San Francisco. Now when you see the font out of context, you automatically recognize the affiliation to apple, simply by the way something is written. The font is featured on the apple watch, apple music logo and more.

( San Fransisco on Apple Music)

(Her Loss *on repeat*)


This strategy was not innovated by Apple. Steve Jobs prided himself on the usage of beautiful typography available through all Macs and it took time for the brand to fully transition fonts.

On the other hand, Google has seen the opportunity much earlier.

In 2011, Google introduced Roboto. Another Helvetica-inspired font, that featured rounded dots and smoother curves. This font is also used throughout all google apps, such as Gmail, google drive, google docs, sheets, google calendar and many others.

The news channel CNN didn't shy away from its inspiration when introducing its new font called CNN Sans.

Helvetica is expensive. For a globally broadcasted channel like CNN, they are obligated to pay very expensive licenses to be able to use the font freely to promote their message.

Now CNN Sans is seen throughout their news broadcast, ticker, news website and app.

YOUTUBE Got their own font called Youtube Sans.

COCA-COLA introduced their new typeface called Unity.

NETFLIX too, the biggest streaming platform, now has its own writing and it's the only font you'll see on their streaming app. 

Here are some specific things to look for to recognize the Helvetica typeface.

To put it in perspective, the computer company IBM produced computers that featured a licensed version of Helvetica. The license for a version of the typeface ranges from 30-50 $ monthly. IBM needed to license the font for 300 080 employees at the time. Before moving to their own in-house font, IBM claimed they were spending over 1 million dollars per year to license Helvetica Neue to each worker.


But the most important reason those companies switched typefaces was branding. I've noticed brands are experienced in more than just their products. Customer interactions with the brand's video, website, content and social media post are an important opportunities for those labels to advertise their branding. Every time a consumer is exposed to your brand's content it's an opportunity to communicate your message. Whether it's through Typography, Layout, Colour palette or Music it's a chance to display your Brand DNA.

Helvetica is not being pushed away in the industry, actually, brands just wanted a Helvetica of their own.


And I decided to design my own version of Helvetica..

Next up in Helvetica pt 3. the introduction of Hurtvetica and


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