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Why Do Everybody’s Brand Fonts Look the Identical?

Why Do Everybody’s Brand Fonts Look the Identical?

2023-12-02 05:56:02

This text has been contributed by Dawson Whitfield.

Perhaps you’ve seen it whereas flipping by way of {a magazine} or looking your favourite websites on-line. Perhaps you’ve opened one too many advertising emails solely to be left with the identical lingering feeling. Perhaps you had been your personal firm’s branding solely to have an odd feeling of deja vu. No matter your second of realization was, you had been left questioning, “Is it simply me, or do everybody’s brand fonts look the identical now?”

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To reply your query briefly, no it isn’t simply you. Logo fonts are certainly starting to converge into one homogeneous heap of smooth sans-serifs. This nice streamlining of brand fonts has taken place throughout industries — from excessive tech to excessive vogue — and its seemingly unstoppable progress has left many questioning that exact same query.

To know the origins of this stylistic shift and the place this development is headed, we’re going to discover the emergence of sans-serifs as the emblem font-du-jour. From bigger traits in minimalist design, to the impact this homogeneity has on manufacturers, to the way forward for brand fonts, there’s so much to discover. So, when you’re able to lastly get a solution to that lingering query, let’s start.

The Rise of the Sans-Serif Brand Font

Earlier than we start dissecting the small print of this frequent brand font development, let’s check out just a few of its most notable examples. In any case, if we’re going to grasp the place all the opposite have gone, we have to see the place this evolution is rising. Some industries have embraced the sans-serif brand font greater than others, with tech being maybe essentially the most distinguished proponent of typographical minimalism.

Sitting in a league of its personal, tech behemoth Google is our first notable instance of the sans-serif-izing of brand fonts. Google’s stripped-down brand identity saved the model’s signature colours however removed its serif font. Whereas the outdated Google brand included each serifs and shadows, the 2015 rebrand launched a flat sans-serif font the corporate dubbed “Product Sans”.

Google’s old logo, prior to the 2015 rebrand The Google Logo as of 2015, featuring sans-serif logo font

Sans-Serifs in Excessive Tech

However Google wasn’t the one tech behemoth to chop away at its brand fonts within the 2010s. In 2014, Airbnb dropped the multi-color bubble letters and opted for a monochrome lowercase sans-serif paired with the model’s cryptic symbol.

AirBnB 2014 rebrand, logo before and after

2017 noticed Pinterest ditch its script font in favor of a a lot blockier sans-serif.

Pinterest 2017 rebrand, logo before and after

One other lowercase sans-serif adoptee, Mailchimp traded in its swirling script font in 2018.

Mailchimp 2018 rebrand, logo before and after

It’s vital to notice right here that sans-serif fonts — particularly trendy fonts inside the sans-serif household — have been a tech favourite for some time. Given tech’s emphasis on effectivity and streamlining, the prevalence of those minimalist brand fonts needs to be unsurprising.

In an business the place sleeker, easier and simpler is at all times higher, it solely is sensible that the go-to font needs to be one thing likewise smooth, easy and simple to learn. When your business is obsessive about creating the long run, particulars like serifs and prospers can really feel like an pointless weight of the previous.

Whereas all of those tech corporations look like a pure match for the minimalism of sans-serif, tech was removed from the one business that spent the majority of the 2010s sanding away their font options.

Sans-Serifs in Excessive Style

Maybe extra surprisingly, luxurious vogue — an business constructed on the detailed work of expert craftspeople — additionally embraced the sans-serif look over the course of the 2010s. Diane von Furstenburg, the financially-troubled vogue label greatest identified for popularizing the wrap costume, left its serifs behind in 2017.

Trench coat titan Burberry did the identical in 2018, whereas Balmain each dropped the serifs and crammed in its previously hole font that very same 12 months. Trying on the three logos facet by facet, the fonts are strikingly comparable, as if the three corporations had convened in secret to agree on a brand look earlier than contacting their respective design businesses.

Diane von Furstenberg 2017 rebrand, logo before and after Burberry 2018 rebrand, logo before and after Balmain 2018 rebrand, logo before and after 

Sans-Serifs In every single place

And the development isn’t simply in these two seemingly opposing industries. Throughout the center floor behind excessive tech and excessive vogue, loads of different manufacturers have spent the previous decade whittling away the small print that after outlined their brand fonts. The Huffington Post’s 2017 rebrand traded in its extra conventional serif font for one thing sleeker. Now, the publication’s font reads extra Buzzfeed modern than New York Occasions competitor.

Huffington Post 2017 rebrand, logo before and after

In 2018, tv channel Animal Planet traded of their excessive typography for a a lot tamer different. Whereas the outdated font was additionally sans-serif, the bric-a-brac stacked lettering was noticeably toned down within the new brand’s plain textual content association. With this brand, we are able to see an instance of an organization that already had a sans-serif brand font discovering additional methods to streamline the look of their brand.

Animal Planet 2018 rebrand, logo before and after

Throughout industries, sans-serif fonts have been the rebrand software of alternative for a lot of manufacturers. Changing every thing from bubble fonts, to vintage fonts, to serif fonts, to script fonts, the sans-serif has unfold to grow to be a brand redesign staple.

The phenomenon of the ever present sans-serif rebrand has even coined a time period: reblanding.

Nonetheless, all this design homogeneity comes at a price.

The Price of the Sans-Serif

There’s a cause designers usually select sans-serif brand fonts. These brand fonts are clear, straightforward to learn, work for loads of industries, and look good throughout a variety of mediums. That mentioned, those self same traits that make these fonts a designer favourite additionally contribute to among the points that come up when everybody begins utilizing them of their logos.

To know the price of sans-serif fonts changing into the de facto alternative for logos, we have to look a bit extra into the anatomy of a character. Like all different typefaces, sans-serifs are made up of the standard font parts. Issues like arms, ascenders, bowls and bars make up the strokes that come collectively to create letters inside this font household. Nonetheless, in contrast to another typefaces, sans-serifs are lacking just a few of the everyday anatomical options. Serifs, spurs, swashes, and different prospers are notably lacking from sans-serif fonts, that means this typeface lacks the extent of element and design differentiation that typefaces like serif or script can have. Particularly when in comparison with the looping swirls and limitless prospers script fonts can add, sans-serif fonts look downright utilitarian. And to a sure extent, they’re.

Whereas that utilitarianism makes these fonts readable and versatile, it has its drawbacks. With out the extra particulars and options of different typefaces, sans-serif fonts have far fewer choices for differentiation. Whilst you can differ issues like the peak, weight, slant and stress, sans-serif fonts merely have fewer options to work with than their extra advanced counterparts.

On the earth of logos, this interprets to brand fonts that look extra much like each other than their elaborate script or serif predecessors ever may. Whenever you add in manufacturers’ propensity to make use of the identical monochrome, flat variations of sans-serif fonts of their logos, you’re left with a way of sameness. Inside the context of logos, sameness is a really unhealthy factor. Contemplating the aim of a brand is to create distinction and recognition on your model, having your brand font look the identical as everybody else is usually a massive downside.

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Minimalism: A Minimal Historical past

Now that we’ve lined the price of fixed sans-serif brand fonts, let’s break for a short historical past lesson, lets? It’s no secret that the sans-serif typeface is dwelling to unapologetically minimalist fonts. However what’s vital to remember as we look at sans-serif saturation is knowing the context behind this development. The rise of sans-serifs because the dominant brand font is a part of a a lot bigger motion in direction of minimalism prior to now decade.

The Minimalist Cycle

Minimalism is available in waves. The extreme design of the Eighties was adopted by the extra stripped down and muted Nineties. In flip, the minimalism of the Nineties was adopted by the daring, vivid and sometimes bedazzled 2000s. Following this sample, the subsequent decade took a way more austere route. However the 2010s weren’t only a product of a pure return to minimalism, the Great Recession additionally contributed to a decreased urge for food for all issues extreme. Whereas this will simply be seen on the style and decor facet, all points of design are inextricably linked — brand fonts included.

A Decade of Paring Down

Once we look again on the 2010s now, we are able to see a decade outlined by a much less is extra mentality. From the emergence of capsule wardrobes, to the rise of streamlined UX, to a motion in direction of minimal inside design, the previous decade has been all about eradicating litter in favor of effectivity. Eliminating the inessential was a lot within the cultural zeitgeist that there was an entire present about this idea in 2019 — Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, produced by on-line streaming big Netflix and primarily based on Kondo’s e-book on the identical matter. All of this to say, after we have a look at the bigger cultural context, sans-serif brand fonts are a pure extension of the 2010s minimalism motion.

Once we ask whether or not they’re right here to remain, the reply doesn’t relaxation on brand designers alone — however on the tradition at giant. If the urge for food for minimalism stays sturdy, manufacturers are prone to follow the sans-serif brand font as a means to reply to buyer preferences. But when tastes change, fonts are prone to as effectively.

A Return to Brand Font Variety

However is the sans-serif actually what prospects nonetheless need? Or have the tides began to activate this brand font standby? Again in 2018, Anne Quinto, a design and structure reporter for Quartz proclaimed that the “The darkish age of soulless sans-serif logos is coming to an finish”. Whereas there have been just a few extra rebrands that includes sans-serif brand fonts since this declaration, she makes an fascinating argument for the development coming to an finish.

On the coronary heart of her argument is a single time period: “soulless”. All through this piece, we’ve talked in regards to the sans-serifs and the utilitarian nature of their design. However maybe their best sin is that they usually lack character. When an increasing number of prospects are searching for a extra human relationship with manufacturers, having the identical brand font as everybody else simply doesn’t reduce it.

As prospects look to manufacturers for extra than simply services or products, but in addition for his or her stances on social issues and ethical practices all through their provide chain, manufacturers have to take a extra human strategy to design. Not simply searching for essentially the most readable, smooth, easy font potential, however in search of brand fonts that say one thing about who they’re. We’re already beginning to see the shift away from sans-serif brand fonts start. Within the later 2010s, manufacturers like Chobani, Medium, and VRBO all moved to extra elaborate serif fonts and away from their sans-serif roots.

Chobani 2017 rebrand, logo before and after Medium 2017 rebrand, logo before and after VRBO 2019 rebrand, logo before and after

Whether or not these extra distinctive brand fonts are half of a bigger shift away from sans-serif, or whether or not the minimalist font nonetheless has just a few years in it, solely time will inform. However till then, there’s nonetheless a sea of sameness to take care of.

The best way to Design within the Meantime

For designers their very own sans-serif brand fonts after studying this piece, there’s no have to rebrand in a panic. Sans-serif fonts, in any case, do have lots of deserves with regards to logos. Their streamlined, straightforward to learn, no-nonsense design makes them extremely person pleasant. And user-friendly is at all times a very good factor. However as we enter the 2020s, it might be time to cease treating them because the design default.

For designers seeking to construct manufacturers that customers join with, character is every thing. Which may imply selecting a extra fascinating font or it might imply taking a distinct strategy to the way you market with the font you have got.

I’m going to go away you with one final instance: No Identify. A beloved generic meals model from Canada, No Identify is thought for its borderline dystopian branding that incorporates a clear (and sure, generic) black Helvetica font atop a vivid yellow background. At face worth, their brand is as plain because it will get. However the model finds different methods to be memorable. From its tongue in cheek Twitter account to its strikingly stark website, No Identify approaches its plain packaging with a humorousness. Whenever you’re one among 1,000,000 manufacturers with almost an identical brand fonts, it may be onerous to face out. However with a bit creativity, you possibly can nonetheless grow to be not possible to overlook.


Concerning the writer: Dawson Whitfield is the founder and CEO of Looka, an AI-powered brand maker that gives entrepreneurs with a fast and inexpensive approach to create a ravishing model.

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