The Ubiquity of Helvetica

Have you ever thought how one typeface can be everywhere and be used in almost anything? If you have, and if you have noticed that it’s almost the same typeface, then you’re a part of a small group of people who pays close attention to details. 

The Helvetica is among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces. From commercial usage, all the way down to government usage, the Helvetica can be seen everywhere. For example, it has become popular thanks to the wordmarks of big companies like 3M, Microsoft, American Airlines, Skype, Sears, BMW, Motorola, and even in Apple Inc., like in the iPhone OS and the iPod. Sure, if these names just flash you by in an instant, you might not be aware they all use the same typeface. 

In official use, it has been adopted by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which if you have ever been to NYC, you can see the typeface in almost every single street, taxy cab, and metro station. The U.S. Government has adopted the typeface, by using it in the federal income tax forms. It has even been in space, since NASA uses the type on the Space Shuttle Orbiter.

The Helvetica was developed by Max Miedinger, in 1957, and was made the established font for the Swiss Type Movement. Since then, it has given a lot of variants for the font and is the father of many other Helvetica typefaces like Helvetica Neue, Helvetica Rounded, Helvetica Narrow and Helvetica Inserat among others.

To get a more in-depth perspective of this topic, I would recommend watching the great documentary: “Helvetica” by Gary Hustwit, where you can appreciate better how designers really enjoy using the typeface Helvetica.

What other things throughout you everyday lives have you noticed that others have not. Small details that you appreciate, but still fail to conform the norm of common sense. We would love to hear from you. Share your experiences in the comments section. 
pictures by: //////M\\\\\\\, MastaEgg, and indigo
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