Branding lessons well worth learning

I just read a Fast Company Design article about how Steve Jobs worked with legendary designer Paul Rand to develop a logo for NeXT Computer.

NeXT_Computer Logo
NeXT_Computer Logo | Image: Wikimedia Commons

Whether you have millions of dollars or a more modest marketing budget, the takeaways ring true.

  • A logo must be distinctive, memorable and clear.
  • A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing [product or service] it represents; brands [by themselves] don’t make companies successful.
  • The designer’s role is to solve a problem, not to suggest options.
  • Logomarks—symbols like the Nike swoosh—could take $100 million, plus years to become well-known.
  • Once a brand is designed, you must communicate standards and guidelines for its usage throughout your company.

Will bespoke typefaces replace Helvetica?

Bespoke typefaces are on the rise

Bespoke definition
Bespoke definition

More and more big companies commission their own typefaces, rather than relying upon the thousands of fonts readily available for marketing their goods and services.

Recent, notable bespoke typefaces

2018

This month, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) introduced its bespoke Unity font.  Depending on who you ask, some designers love it, and others hate it. Coca-Cola has used a script logotype for decades, and a while back introduced a serif font with the word, “Coke.” Unity is a departure; it is a sans-serif typeface family with several weights.

The Coca-Cola Company's Unity typeface
The Coca-Cola Company’s Unity typeface

2017

In 2017, IBM rolled out its bespoke typeface families, named Plex, and YouTube introduced YouTube Sans.

IBM Plex typeface
IBM Plex typeface

 

YouTube Sans typeface
YouTube Sans typeface

2016

In 2016, Apple introduced San Francisco typefaces at its Worldwide Developer Conference. These fonts were inspired by Helvetica, and were developed for ease of reading on small screens like the Apple Watch and iPhone, as well as on iPads and Mac computers. The same year, CNN introduced CNN Sans—also modeled on Helvetica.

Apple's San Francisco typefaces
Apple’s San Francisco typefaces

 

CNN Sans typeface
CNN Sans typeface

2015

In 2015, Google rebranded its famous “G” using a proprietary font called Product Sans. Product Sans has a strong resemblance to Futura. Google rolled out Roboto In 2013 for the Android OS. Also in 2013, Mozilla rolled out typefaces for its Firefox OS, called Fira Sans and Fira Mono.

Google logo, 2015
Google logo, 2015

 

Google’s Roboto typeface

 

Fira Sans typeface
Fira Sans typeface

Why use a bespoke typeface?

It’s all about branding. We are bombarded by thousands of advertisements each day on smartphones and other computers. We may see an advertisement for a fraction of a second before engaging with the brand or discarding the ad. According to Envato, simply having a recognizable logo is not enough. Companies have to stand out, so branding today requires notable logos, colors, copy and typography. “Bespoke fonts offer brands more control over their identity, and in some cases can even save them money in the long run.”

Companies must stand out

Will bespoke typefaces result in the death of Helvetica?

Helvetica (Neue Haas Grotesk) was developed in 1957 by Swiss typographer Max Miedinger and became the de facto standard of international typeface design in the mid-20th Century. It remains popular today—Helvetica Neue is the default Mac font—because it is both readable and legible at many different sizes and weights.

It’s not likely that Helvetica is going away anytime soon. It is still the favorite of many designers because of its versatility and simplicity. Just make room for the new, bespoke typefaces to coexist with Helvetica.

The colors of the Web

Blues top the charts

Blue hues reign at the top of the most used hues on the most popular Internet sites, according to Paul Herbert Designs. This designer wrote a script to “scrape” the most-used colors from the most visited sites, according to alexa.com. First, he has a graphic with the colors from the top ten sites. You can mouse over a color on his Web site to see its HEX code.

The most popular colors on the Web
The most popular colors on the Web (Source: Paul Herbert)

The most popular colors by hue

Herbert also charts colors by hue, both on a bar chart and using a radial map where you can change the background color. Blues rule!

The most used Web colors by hue
The most used Web colors by hue (Source: Paul Herbert)

Color formats

Herbert analyzed the color code formats used. Designers used HEX (hexadecimal) most often, then RGBa (red-green-blue + alpha), 3-digit HEX and named colors, in that order. None of the designers used RBG, HSL (hue-saturation-lightness) or HSLa (HSL + alpha )formats.

Tools and Tutorials

Finally, Paul Herbert describes the meaning of different color formats, and how to convert colors among the formats. He explains the science behind the different formats; predefined color names, RGB, RGBa, HEX, 3-digit HEX, HSL and HSLa.