sans serif

 Helvetica was developed in Switzerland at the Haas Type Foundry in 1957. The brainchild of Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffman, Helvetica has featured in countless commercials, branded hundreds of companies and now starred in a major motion picture. But if you’d rather the story in infographic form:

For its fans, Helvetica is the perfect typographic expression of swiss style. It’s modern, clean and has an air of cool. Graphic designers celebrate its neutrality and chameleon-like ability to communicate everything from the luxury of Fendi, the efficiency of the Canadian government or the humour of The Office.

Why is Helvetica so malleable?

That is the question explored by Gary Hustwit in Helvetica. Is it really the best way to communicate words visually or have we just been conditioned to respond to it in a positive way because its so widely proliferated? Critics of Helvetica, like Erik Spiekermann, argue we have been and that, in reality, the font is boring and has none of the rhythm of human communication. They see the fragmented postmodernist movement in graphic design as a reaction to the barren design of modernism and Helvetica.

From the mid-80s right through to the early 2000s this fun, schizophrenic style dominated popular culture. It manifested in neon, handwriting, collage, grunge and a plethora of other visual design. As though the whole world was one big zine.

But then came this:

Apple’s 2001 iPod commercial perfectly captured the sleek simplicity of modernism whilst retaining the human exuberance of postmodernism. This was a watershed moment in communications, this was the switch.

Modern communicators must find a balance between utilitarian sparseness and mania.

0:27 – Helvetica

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last thing i promise

I think this style would be perfect for an ikea campaign or any brand that wants to communicate a sense of fun

conveying information visual.ly

Just because the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Though I can’t confirm it, I would say that this cliche is also the motto of infographics lovers (guilty) across the world.

Infographics (information graphics for the n00bs) is the practice of condensing large amounts of information into a visual representation that anyone can understand. They are simple, elegant and efficient and prove once and for all why we should just let graphic designers run the world.

Infographics are so common in our world, we interact with them daily without even realising how much information we’ve gleaned from them. The first time I really understoof how powerful they were was watching Dr Hans Rosling’s Ted Talk ‘New insights on poverty’

Here was hugely serious information being presented in a way that was not only watchable but I retained what I was being told. The numbers had impact and relativity.

I’m told constantly that as part of Gen Y I’ve got a severely limited attention span. Infographics is the remedy. Actually I’m sure that if my highschool chemistry textbook included more I’d be cloning sheep right now. Infographics have been scattered around the market for decades but there hasn’t really been a platform to fully enable my addiction

Until

visually

came along earlier this year.

Here’s an example from the site from Vancouver-based AMC:

The simplicity and colour scheme work so well and there is a very logical flow to the whole thing. The use of the gradient moving from black to blue aids the eye’s progression down the page and compliments the shift from doom and gloom facts to one potential solution.

This next one is definitely my favourite. Not only is it extremely true (though I think they are going a bit easy on the pencil mustache) but think about the volume of information being conveyed. If you were to try and convert this into text, including in-depth descriptions of each beard, it just wouldn’t work.

Within ‘The trustworthiness of beards’ Matt McInerey highlights the three biggest strengths of infographics:

1) showing something will always be more efficient and accurate than trying to describe with words
2) relating sets of data or information to something else gives them gravity and makes it understandable
3) infographics are fun

Here’s another from Column 5 Media. Social media consumers know how true it is, poor myspace…

getting heard in the crowd

According to Blogpulse.com there are over 170m blogs. 6,505 of these blogs, including this one, were created in the last 24 hours. In the wake of all this creation, a rush of content, how do some manage to distinguish themselves?

The best blogs seem to go beyond mere daily posts, offering something quirky, cool, juicy or interactive. They have an identifiable image and personality and communicate something, just like successful brands do.

This blog is about the crowd that creates and distributes content via social media. There are 750m facebook users, 25bn tweets were sent last year and 2bn videos are watched every day on youtube.

It’s a big crowd.