Guiding principles of Helvetica design
Guiding principles of Helvetica design

Deemphasizing
your brand to supernormal

You can do much of this with help from Helvetica®, the typeface that was originally designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger & Edouard Hoffmann in Switzerland.

“It’s used by default by designers to whom typography means very little and it’s the gold standard for designers and brands for whom type means everything.”

Monotype

What matters most is that Helvetica is the typeface users get to see the most and are most accustomed to.

Only now it has been re-engineered by Monotype to be responsive. Helvetica Now offers Micro, Text and Display sizes, each of which is tailored to a particular environment.

“Micro” is for digital devices such as smart phones or Apple watches. “Text” is for print and “Display” for billboards and posters.

Why a brand proposition deemphasized to supernormal offers a competitive advantage

When every brand is unique with its one of a kind value proposition, how do these brands differ from one another?

They don’t.

We have all become witnesses of another kind of brand. Brands that evolved without relying on advertising. Google, Facebook and other brands from the infant stage of the digital era became dominant word wide brands without much if any advertising during their initial organic growth.

  • No big promise.
  • No emotions.
  • No story telling.

All they had was their product to hold on to that wasn’t even a product then. It was but an idea that became their product and eventually turned out to become one of the best-known brands around the world.

Quite similar to the iconic Helvetica, no?

With a difference though, while it took Helvetica 35 years onwards from Helvetica Neue to become ubiquitous it may only take a decade or two to become a №1 brand of the world in the digital age.

By way of this isn't happiness™ (Source)
By way of this isn’t happiness(Source)

Helvetica is supernormal

What does it mean?

Supernormal is a quality not restricted to visual appearance but concerns how the objects((products, services, brands, behavior)) are perceived through their use((Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa)).

Imagine you are watching a movie starring Julia Roberts. Even though you know that this is the actress Julia Roberts, you completely filter out her being the actress Julia Roberts, instead, you become ?percent consumed with the character she is playing.

It’s the same with a product or a brand. You won’t notice its design -or even that it was designed. As Apple used to claim for its products, “it just works(and that is that. It serves its purpose and by doing so you grow accustomed to using it and soon enough you wouldn’t want to trade it with any other product in that category.

For designers

The accomplishment might not be to create a shockingly exciting design, but to design something that never grows any less enjoyable to use.

Ethan Efanon

For marketers

Oversaturation drains the term of any meaning from what we as a culture have become fixated on the concepts of:

  • “Authenticity”
  • “Disruption”
  • “Social goodness”
  • “Democratisation”

Keeping a bit of a distance from what the culture is fixated on is good practice in the context of the majority of brands jumping on the bandwagon.

For brands

Action speaks louder than words. Nothing new but imperative in today’s setting of mere communication. Initially mentioned brands (google, facebook & Co.) aren’t where they are today because of communications, they have become what they are with behavior and changing the behavior of those who got them there.

Helvetica is like a glass of water. Helvetica is normal. It’s not perceived as something that has been designed. Helvetica is supernormal.

Supernormal goes beyond seeing, and into a more interesting area of using and experiencing to the effect that successful design dissolves into behavior.