Technically speaking, it’s a sans serif Grotesque typeface, inspired by and based on the Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface created by Berthold around 1898.
In practical terms, though, it’s used by designers at independent firms, big corporations, and everything in between, from all over the world.
Helvetica has been featured by MOMA in New York and has received a number of awards and worldwide recognition. There’s even a documentary and a few books about it.
But why is Helvetica so popular? What is it about this font that seemingly tries to be inconspicuous that has made it such a part of our culture and daily lives?
We see it dozens of times every day, from product logos, to websites, to packaging, and numerous other items. Read on for more information about Helvetica and why you might want to consider it in your next design project.
Helvetica was originally called Die Neue Haas Grotesk, and was closely based on Schelter-Grotesk. It was created specifically to be neutral, to not give any impression or have any meaning in itself. This neutrality was paramount, and based on the idea that type itself should give no meaning.
The marketing director at Stempel decided to change the name to Helvetica in 1960 to make the font more marketable internationally. Originally it was proposed that the typeface be called Helvetia (Latin for Switzerland), but the designers didn’t want to name it after a country, and so it was called Helvetica instead (which is Latin for Swiss).