Helvetica has been known worldwide as the “Graphic Designer’s Best Friend”. With it’s many styles and weight options there is a perfect application for helvetica in any design project. Made famous in many logos from KOHL’S to American Airlines, typographers and graphic designers alike have known of the font’s value in their projects. It’s legibility and ease of use lended itself to many identities and packages since it became famous around the 1970’s.
In the past few years we have seen many font foundries trying to create sans-serif fonts with the same versatility as Helvetica and one font that has been taking that place is Gotham from Hoefler & Co.. It has been used by many agencies for it’s weight varieties easily helping to distinguish visual hierarchy. We were seeing this trend around the early 2000’s but it really gained traction in the past couple of years. Even Twitter has adopted it in their website as the paragraph font. With such big companies endorsing this font and with it’s web version we are seeing it more and more in use. From billboards to web banners and logos Gotham is moving into the space in which Helvetica once ruled.
As purists in type design we like to look at every aspect of what makes a font “beautiful”. From ease of use to clarity there are fonts that keep popping up in our heads when we design. Helvetica has always taking a consideration in our minds but as innovators we are constantly looking for fresh and new ideas to keep our world evolving. From Emigre to Hoefler & Co. we have seen many fonts come and go each which it’s unique value proposition. As much as I love the modern look of Gotham the only shortcoming is in it’s condensed versions. Helvetica and Helvetica Neue have an unmatched variety of styles that really do become a swiss army knife of fonts. But with limitations in web fonts and loading speeds being taken into consideration, we have to come up with more creative solutions to space limits. I love the challenge, but one can get somewhat sentimental when thinking about such as impactful font as Helvetica. For now I am torn, I don’t think there will ever be a full replacement for Helvetica but Gotham is pretty darn close.