Sometimes a font needs to change. We may worship it in all its original glory, but it needs to adapt to the times. Take Arial, for example – in all its safe and simple sans-serif loveliness, the font is a big hit online (mainly due to the fact it’s far less likely to pixelate than serif typefaces).
Of course, typeface changes don’t always work out. Brands in particular can spend millions on updated typography, only for the new font to fail miserably. The ones that don’t flop, however, flourish. They do what they’re designed to. Here are a few of our favourites…
The London Underground has been home to Edward Johnston’s font – aptly named Johnston – since 1916. In its 100th year, Transport for London decided a minor tweak was necessary. Jon Hunter, TfL Head of Design put forward his reasons, saying:
“The Johnston typeface speaks of London like no other. It has been around 100 years. It will be around 100 more years if not longer. We just want to make sure it’s used consistently across all our branding and across all future branding platforms we may have, so we asked Monotype to go back to the original principles of Johnston, and create a digital typeface using the DNA of its truly iconic predecessor.”
Back in 1916, Mr Johnston didn’t factor hashtags and at signs into his font (because they were never needed). However, this subtle change will have a big impact on keeping the typeface alive in a modern world of social media – and we’re all for it.
From UK government publications to the logo for the National Film Board of Canada, Helvetica is used the world over. In 2011, however, Neue Haas Grotesk was released… or rather, reintroduced. Apparently, Helvetica was originally designed by Max Miedinger in the 1950s as Neue Haas Grotesk; but in the conversion from metal type to digital, the font’s predecessor lost its integrity. Thanks to designer Christian Schwartz, the typeface has been restored – not that anyone had any problems with Helvetica, of course. The changes are subtle to unsuspecting folk, but font wizards will notice the less curly newcomer from the off.
Last year, Margate’s Dreamland was given a new lease of life. Entirely rebranded and revived, the theme park and events location was taken out of its seaside slump. It first opened in 1920 and enjoyed a peak of success in the 60s and 70s, but cheap overseas travel soon led people abroad for that sought-after hot weather.
Fast-forward to 2003 and plans were in place to turn the site into flats. Thankfully, Hemingway Design came to the rescue and transformed the brand. With that came a new font that’s modern but somehow still holds true to the carnival-esque typeface from time gone by. It’s bold and simple, but a 3D effect gives it that ‘look at me’ quality. Along with a focus on candy colours and diagonal stripes, the branding couldn’t look better.
Baskerville was created in the 1750s by John Baskerville. Rococo in style and revolutionary at the time, his influence was apparent across western Europe and the font is still widely loved today. So loved, that it inspired Mrs Eaves – named after Baskerville’s wife (widow of Richard Eaves).
The purpose of this modern revival was to keep the loveliness of Baskerville alive, but, like Johnston, make sure it’s readable for modern day printing and on-screen displays. It was designed by Zuzana Licko in 1996 and is used in display contexts, such as headings and book blurbs.
So what will the future hold for our beloved fonts? As technology evolves, we must integrate every little typeface nuance into it. One thing is for sure though – there’s no beating classic typography from genius designers. Interested in finding out the origins of our favourite typography? Read our celebration of font heroes and feel super duper inspired.