What are your thoughts on fonts that seem to be everywhere? If you have made one of them, how do you feel about it?
No research here, just curiosity, as some people (including myself from time to time) dismiss overly popular designs, but clearly others must like them otherwise they would not be continually used.
I'm specifically thinking of fonts like Helvetica, Gotham, Museo etc used by professional designers, not Office defaults (Calibri, Arial, Comic Sans, etc) that non-designers use because they don't know any better.
• As an adv/design agency, I'd probably present the popular font as the new Helvetica, the font of the century, the must-to-use font (maybe as very rarely adv agencies have typo knowledge and relay on trends)
• As a typographer, I’d be happy to have designed Gotham as I'd be rich now ;-) On the other hand it always depends if we want to design something very innovative that will maybe not have an instant success; or balance strategy, marketing, design, ease-of-use of our font.
When I think of ubiquity, I think of Neutraface. Tons of designers have gotten their hands on it, and stretched the context past its limits. But that’s at display level, for something trying to grab attention.
In Sweden we use a Bo Berndal face, Bosis aka SISPro. Literally every sign company has a copy, and it’s used almost exclusively for warning signs & information signage. When our public transportation Skånetrafiken used it in their identity, I smiled. It’s state owned company that with that move tries to take a step back and be taken for granted.
It was awesome to read a newspaper and see several ads set in it, or go to the supermarket and see lots of packaging using it.
Perhaps I would be jealous of today's popular fonts if I hadn't had that success, but now I don't mind that I don't have any big hits at the moment, because I have a few types that are almost as old as Fontesque, but which continue to sell steadily, while Fontesque doesn’t, despite the recent major revamp. Long tail.
One day I will write a book called Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Helvetica
Really, David. I can appreciate the sentiment, working on type all the time as we do. I on the other hand can't get enough of a good thing. I like seeing it used well in my surroundings. A nice set of 'letter' bookends, a great 'type' graphic on the wall. I've even been looking for a really neat 'typographic tie to wear'. But, can't seem to fine a decent one online anywhere. Anybody know where I can get one? Just, please no Helvetica! A nice, tastefully executed tie, with a variety of different letter forms. Hard to find.
Anyway, I agree with Cavanaugh that "It's bad if you identify the typeface before reading the text". That's pretty much true. I think.
Any font used well is a pleasant and welcomed surprise. It's all the bad examples floating out there, everywhere you look—a lot of really bad typography. When did it all start? I can't seem to remember. It's like one day I just woke up and It was everywhere.
I seem to be 'cringing' an awful lot lately. It's actually painful. Now, if I could just find that tie, all would be right with the universe again.
There are many factors which contribute to this.
Zapf’s designs follow the principle, with Optima and Palatino overshadowing the likes of the middling Melior, and Edison and Marconi nowhere.
Ubiquity of the most popular types is going to occur regardless, the issue of good/bad relates more to factors which inﬂuence it, such as bundling.