Unlikely Type, a Brand Design Hero

The Typographic Hero of every Brand Identity
An interesting fact I was reading somewhere recently- did you know the most common typeface in brand identity design across the world and across every market is Helvetica (or it’s ugly step brother Arial)?  Not only is Helvetica the most common typeface, but it is-so by a country mile. That alone should be cause enough for every self respecting brand identity designer to shy away from the font like a vampire from daylight.

When designing the visual language of brand identities we always pay particular attention to the typefaces we select to represent our clients. Imagine a world where every piece of type design was carefully considered, craftily engineered, and uniquely beautiful. “Preposterous! There aren’t enough typefaces in the world” I hear you shout. Perhaps, but perhaps it is more a case of there not being enough fonts on your designer’s hard drive, or enough hours in the day for the world’s designers to spend crafting unique typoheavenly concoctions. Spurred-on by this thought I raided my personal photo library for examples of unique type design from the most unlikely of sources. I’ve long been aware of my design infliction which is likely to see me on my family holiday zooming in on a piece of retro signage typography, whilst the rest of the world is facing the other way and shooting picture postcard shots of the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, or Trafalgar Square. Sad but true, just ask my wife.

brand designers melbourne

Store Type_Barcelona_2009

So here is this rogues gallery of unlikely type design. Each image an uncompromised, unhelveticast, uncommonly curious, sideshow of type design.

brand identity designers

Prayer Tickets_Chang Mai_2008

Corporate identity designers melbourne

Metro Type_Paris_2009

brand designers melbourne

Store Type_Northern Spain_2007

brand identity designers Melbourne

Store Type_Paris_2009

visual identity designers Melbourne

House Number_Northern Spain_2007

corporate identity designers Melbourne

Store Type_Paris_2009

brand designers Melbourne

Store Type_Northern Spain_2007

visual identity designers melbourne

Vending Machine Type_Cambodia_2008

visual identity designers Melbourne

Store Type_Barcelona_2007

corporate identity designers Melbourne

Metro Type_Paris_2009

brand identity designers Melbourne

Packaging Type_Bangkok_2008

visual identity designers Melbourne

Store Type_Paris_2008

corporate identity designers Melbourne

Store Type_Barcelona_2009

brand identity designers

Store Type_Barcelona_2009

brand identity designers

Incidental Street Type_Barcelona_2009

corporate identity designers

Store Type_Barcelona_2009

Hope you enjoyed this little collection of unlikely typographic heroes. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which ones you love the best.

Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Designer of Unlikely Brand Typography

8 Comments

  1. Such a valid point about Helvetica. I can honestly say I am up ‘Helvetica’ creek without a paddle most of the time. When presenting identity concepts 99% of the time our Creative Director suggests we try Helvetica Bold with really tight kerning. It’s a safe option and one that he’s guaranteed to like. BUT Dave… You’ve inspired me to keep trying! Keep experimenting with different typefaces because maybe, just maybe one day he’ll pick one that isn’t Helvetica Bold! I may even throw a serif typeface in there to really stir things up!

    • Hi Matthew, Welcome to the light. Glad you got some inspiration from my pics. If you suggested sending your creatives to Europe for a few weeks I’m sure they’d expand their type repartee out of gratitude alone.

  2. Mark Gallagher

    Dave,

    Nice post. I couldn’t agree more! The basic concept of brand identity is differentiation and identification. Using the same font doesn’t support this goal. On top of that, not many designers realize that the licensing agreement for most fonts prohibits their being trademarked by third party.

    As a rule, we create custom type for every logotype we design and often develop custom fonts that echo those letterforms. That’s not to say that these aren’t based on other fonts (they often are). However, it strengthens the brand’s identity by providing an additional brand signal for the brand to leverage and it gets around the licensing issue.

    I think Dr. A. K. Pradeep (CEO of NeuroFocus) said it best: “Being a little bit ‘funky’ appeals to the brain… ‘boring’ is bad for business when it comes to type.”

    Cheers,

    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®
    BLACKCOFFEE®

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