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In Helvetica, big brands trust, but not GAP’s Logo

Gap Logo?

Gap Logo?

Let’s make it very clear, I have far too many shirts and in my collection, towards the ‘lower’ end of the selection there are some from the house of GAP, one of which I quite like, the others not. Yes they really ought to be taken back to the charity shop from whence they came.

Now some of you may have been aware of the Gap Logo issue this week and some may agree that Gap were just playing with the crowd, us. Whichever way it does seem to have opened up the Anti-Helvetica flood gates a bit recently.

Helvetica Grrrrrrrrrr

There is no doubt about it, Helvetica is very prevalent in logo deign and visual branding. This isn’t really too surprising given Helvetica’s popularity. I for one am willing to stand up and be counted along with the others who voted it top of Die 100 Beste Schriften. I have previously posted Michael Bierut’s marvellous comments about life before Helvetica.

OK so I am seeming a bit of an enthusiast, yes my Twitter Avatar is a photo of me at the Barcelona exhibition about the font, and yes I have watched the film and enjoyed the evening when TV celebrated this typeface.

In Helvetica, big brands trust,
BrandGuardian – Twitter

In many ways we really shouldn’t be too surprised by all this. Helvetica is indeed very easy to read, a prerequisite of a good logo. It is available in a wide variety of weights and indeed variants. What does reassure me though is the fact that when applied these logos, to my eyes anyway are distinct and different.

You will find more examples here.

Familiarity Builds Contentment

I used to teach a Yr9 graphics lesson that used a brilliant starter courtesy of Fi Darby, you can have a look here. Basically hide most of a known logo or brand with a box and see how little of it the viewer needs to see in order to identify it. It is almost shocking how little of a logo one needs to be seen in order to be able to identify it.

I have always considered that there are a couple of lessons to be taken out of this. Firstly we are actually quite visually literate, we understand logos and icons and for whatever reason we remember them. However further to this we carry quite complex associations about brands based on form, shape, colour. This is all very useful to the brand owners.

Hold an iPod up and people will tell you that it is an iPod whether or not it says iPod or Apple on it, they tend not to. As I sit looking at this MacBook there is no logo to be seen (unless I close the lid), the keyboard that I am using has an Apple key (it’s an old Apple Pro Wireless) but other than that there is no overt branding, the form and colour says it all.

So, the logo is just part of the brand story and the font is just part of the logo. The font that Mac use now is Myriad a relatively recent one from the ’90s, it features at number 31 of the top 100. Of course until recently Mac were branded with Apple’s version of Garamond, which is number two in the list. Garamond (my second fave) dates from the early 1500s and for me, paradoxically that is a greater achievement than the popularity of my fave Helvetica)

Gap? I think the problem that most people had was the silly blue box, and that suggests to me quite a discerning audience.

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