The Helvetica is, in a way, the antithesis of Comic Sans. Where Comic Sans was despread, the Helvetica was extolled as the exaltation of good taste. While one was reserved for posters in the toilets, the other ascended to the Olympus of many corporate identities.
The thing came to a point where my professor of design at the University recommended the use of what he called Helvetica Preventive when we did not know what typography to choose for a job. La Helvetica has always been at the center of many corporate materials of companies such as Google, Apple, Netflix or IBM.
Helvética was born in 1957 from the talent of Swiss designers Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffman, but its original name was not that. His name was Neue Haas Grotesk. In 1961, the Typeface company acquired the rights to use that typeface and renamed it with the name that we know it today.
The traces of Helvetica are a compendium of Swiss design. They are clean, elegant and sober. However, they are not perfect. Over time, typography became so popular that dozens of variants emerged as designers needed them. These variants introduced special characters that were not as well measured and thought as the original ones.
In 1982, the company Linotype presented one of the most popular variants of Helvetica. It was called Helvetica Neue and was intended for new digital media from the Internet to office applications. Helvetica Neue was the first digitization of the original typeface, and as a job it was a little sloppy. After all, the requirements of digital users were not as strict as those of printers. The new typography introduced small divergences in the punctuation and more characters that did not fit well when joining them to others.
La Helvética began to feel tired and the companies that had catapulted her to fame stopped using it gradually (Google in 2011, Apple in 2013 …).
The director of Monotype, Charles Nix ordered his designers to update the more than 40,000 characters of the 62-year-old typeface to eliminate all their small problems and make it attractive again for at least 62 more years. The result of that work is called Helvetica Now. At the design level, Helvetica Now drinks directly from the original Helvetica. Its creators have also designed several versions:
- Helvetica Now Micro: specially designed to improve readability in very small texts.
- Helvetica Now Display: designed to match the kerning in very large sizes.
- Helvetica Now Text: designed to facilitate reading in very dense texts.
In Monotype they have worked for two years in this redesign of classic typography. It is a type of payment, so it will not be expected to become widespread very quickly, but its creators rely so much on their virtues that they think it will spread like wildfire.