Just Go to Helvetica

From Christina Blaser



If I’ve learned anything about advertising so far, it’s this: nothing is done without a purpose, even down to the typeface.

“Just Go to Helvetica” is an article published by Newsweek magazine by Jessica Bennett. There is also a video that complements the article included on the website called “Fun with fonts”, which is also by Jessica Bennett.

I fell across “Just Go to Helvetica” at the beginning of the term and since then I have become obsessed with type. Okay, so maybe obsessed is a strong word, but I’ve become captivated by it. Now every time I see an advertisement in the paper or a logo on a billboard or even a WAL-MART sign I think to myself, what message are they trying to convey to me by using Garamond over Tahoma? Or Verdana? Or Arial? The list goes on and on.

Jump back to J204: Visual Communication and think about the week Dr. Ryan devoted to typography and you’ll remember the long talk about choosing the right font and how it should uphold the feeling or message you’re trying to communicate to your reader. The same can be said for advertising.

The Newsweek article and video on the website listed above used the presidential campaign signs as examples of utilizing typography as a branding tool. According to Roger Black, an art director who has worked on well known publications like The New York Times, McCain uses a German type face called Optima, which Black says is a non-offensive, very straight forward typeface. Obama uses a contemporary, modern typeface that connects with his youthful audience.

It’s amazing to me that something as simple as a letter can express so much to the audience observing it. Distinct brands that have been around in our culture for a long time are easily recognizable to us, even if we only see a letter from the logo. Take for example the Coca-Cola logo below, doesn’t that typeface convey the refreshing, smooth, thirst-quenching feeling you get when you take a sip of an ice cold Coca-Cola? The letters just seem to flow right into one another much like each gulp flows smoothly down your throat. The red pops against the white background, a lot like the fizzy bubbles that pop to the surface of a glassful of Coca-cola.





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