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Blog | Amplitude Creative

Amplitude – Why Are We Obsessed with Helvetica?

At over 50-years-old, Helvetica is one of the oldest typefaces in existence. It is one of the most used fonts in the world, thanks to its clean, sans-serif appearance that has excited many a typography fan throughout its lifetime.

A Brief History of Helvetica

Developed by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger – in collaboration with Eduard Hoffmann – at the Haas type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland, Helvetica was first unveiled to the world in 1957. Its neutral appearance with sharp corners and clean edges gives it great universality, a selling point that has seen it used in graphic design projects all over the globe.

Despite appearing as an original typeface, Helvetica actually evolved from the Schelter-Grotesk and Haas Normal Gortesk fonts. It was created to compete with the well-loved Akzidenz-Grotesk font face, and was initially named Neue Haas Grotesk. However Neue Hass Grotesk was soon renamed as Helvetica, to make it marketable across the globe as a new and unique typeface.

In 1990, a digital version of the Helvetica font was launched under the guise of Arial – a now-popular default font on PC and Mac computers across the world.

Popular Uses

Helvetica has been a ubiquitous font since rising to fame in the 1980s. Although prominently used in graphic design projects, commercial, industrial and even government companies have also selected the font for use on their promotional materials. Fast food chain McDonald’s, automobile company Jeep and clothing firm American Apparel are amongst the top names to have embraced the Helvetica font, whilst authorities such as NASA also use the font on the outer casing of their space shuttles.

Helvetica in Popular Culture

So popular is the Helvetica font amongst visual designers, that it even has its own documentary. Independent filmmaker Gary Hustwit took it upon himself to give Helvetica its silver-screen debut, in a feature-length documentary of the same name. Released in 2007, the documentary focuses on candid interviews with top graphic and typeface designers, alongside delivering a visual narrative of the font’s history and development.

The font has also had its own exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, entitled 50 Years of Helvetica, to coincide with it’s 50th anniversary. The installation consisted of posters harnessing the font, along with signs and other graphic materials, to demonstrate the wide range of uses for this now ‘antique’ typeface.

Voted FontShops’ ‘Best Font of All Time’, Helvetica truly is one of the most well-loved and universally used fonts in the world – and we’re pretty sure that we graphic designers will love it for another 50-plus years yet.

The Best of Quirky Business Cards

Having a creative and memorable business card can be the make or break detail between securing a new client, job, or contact, and not securing anything. Whilst most of us will use an online card designer and work from a standard template, some clever business people are creating unique business cards that truly reflect their services.

hair pin business card

1) Yuka Suzuki – Hair and Make-up Artist

Yuka really show off her services with these quirky, bobby pin-filed cards. Not only do the pins provide the characters on her cards with unique hairstyles, we also get an emergency supply of these frequently lost hair slides. Effective and practical.

stylist business card

2) Lindsey Casabella – Stylist

Lindsey’s ‘comb-card’ is another business card ideal for hair emergencies. Not only do we get a contact number for Lindsey to come and sort out our tresses when the worst happens, we also get a comb to start dealing with the disaster until she arrives.



seed business card


3) Lush Lawn and Property Enhancement

If you’re giving Lush a call, its more than likely that you’re having problems with patchy grass or gardens that need landscaping. Until the team can get there, they provide you with a lawn starter kit, integrating seeds into the card’s innards, and helpful instructions on how to grow them on the back.

cinematographer business card

4)Jennifer Sciole – Cinematographer

Jennifer is a cinematographer who really loves her job. With this film strip business card she is able to really showcase her affinity to the movie industry; let’s just hope she doesn’t put this in the projector by mistake – this movie looks short!


cardboard handmade business cards5) Roger Keynes – Writer

Roger Keynes is so desperate for a job he’s started even sinking to hobo levels of begging. Whilst this isn’t the most professional of business cards, and probably won’t do him any favours, it is memorable and stands out amongst the masses of template business cards.

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Yuka Suzuki –

Lindsey Casabella –

Lush –

Jennifer Sciole –

Roger Keynes –




The Influential Power of Graphic Design

In the world that we live in we can see on the side of any bus, or in any shop window at least one example of graphic design. It is so entwined with brands that we all know and love that when we stop and think about it, it’s possible that we didn’t even realise how influential a piece of graphic design was when we bought the product. Major brands, including Apple, Microsoft and Sony heavily rely on their brand and therefore their logo design to help sell their products. This trend isn’t just restricted to the tech industry either, with labels like Gap, Nike and Adidas all utilising the power of design to push their products in front of you in the hopes that it will catch your eye.

Logos are the prime example of how companies can influence opinion of something, sometimes even before the customer has looked at the product. Apple for instance are well-known for being a minimalistic brand, with simple design, easy-to-use functions and a minimalist approach even to their packaging. The bitten-into apple screams quality as soon as you see it. It promotes a prestige item that is desirable. The same can also be said for Nike, which have a well-established brand which has stood the test of time. Designed by Caroline Davidson in 1971, the Swoosh logo is now a household favourite and immediately recognisable around the World.

These logos do something to us when we see them and whether it’s one of the aforementioned brands or any others you would care to mention, they stimulate our senses and get us to a point of interest where we crave the product. This is powerful advertising and probably the most effective.

If we go one step further however, and move away from logos and brands and look at product design itself we can see that it all comes down to visual stimulation. We’ve mentioned before on our blog that DVD packaging for instance can be designed in such a way that it turns a relatively bland looking rectangle box, into something inspiring and desirable. They are the perfect example as they rely on big franchises which are effectively brands themselves, and they can really attract the target audience in a big way. Here are some examples of some eye-catching designs for Blu-ray/DVD boxsets for some of the biggest franchises in the film World.

The Hannibal Lecter Trilogy in a slipcase presentation box mimicking Lecter’s face mask.

A special edition presentation set of Hogwarts School in a display case

As you can see, these are collectors editions which make them extremely valuable to fans but this shows that by creating packaging that is heavily designed and in some cases where the design is “a little out of the box”, manufacturers and retailers can create a desire that is quite separate from the actual product. All through the use of clever design. We are influenced in our daily lives, whether consciously or sub-consciously, by graphic design and so it has become an integral part of the marketing process.

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Bizarre and Creative Packaging Concepts

We are finding increasingly unusual, out-there and left field ways to sell and market products, and a quick glance at High Street shelves suggests that packaging has become the main focus of outlandish and whimsical designers. It makes perfect sense; the packaging is the first thing we see. Why have it serviceable and prosaic when it could be completely off-the-wall?

Drink Carton

Drinks cartons are usually rectangular objects with garish cartoons on the front, or for the more highbrow juice box consumer it might be a plain apple dripping with moisture. They could be a thing of the past. Just check out these bold and bright designs; they have caught the perfect balance between contemporary and retro. Fantastic stuff.

PerfumePerfume and cosmetics arguably lead the way when it comes to pushing the packaging envelope, and this weird and wonderful design by Jann Kyttanen for L’Oreal is a perfect example. Brave, daring, flamboyant and interactive. Where can they go from here?

Six Feet Under

DVD packaging is becoming increasing competitive, and more abstract and unusual in the process. But it is a smart move by film and distribution companies; collectors of DVD’s can be an obsessive bunch who have almost made a cult out of collecting rare and hard-to-obtain films and TV shows. Items like this will only feed the mania.

Pineapple Pastry

They are simple pastries, with a hint of pineapple of course! But this is extremely clever packaging. Not only does the design tell you in no uncertain terms what the product is, it is also offering itself as the perfect gift.

Sock Packaging

With tongue-firmly-in-cheek this very clever packaging for socks is an absolute winner. In fact, sock packaging is usually so staid and nondescript that if this gets on the shelf it could sell very well. Other sock manufacturers take note…and be afraid.


And so concludes our creative packaging round up. These are clever, interactive and downright bizarre designs, but they are also vital, and great designs like this are becoming essential to businesses. The future looks exciting…and slightly odd.

9 Reasons Your Business Needs Design (Infographic)

We thought it was a about time we turned our creative hands to something a little different in the form of an infographic. We hope you enjoy this latest post and take inspiration from it in terms of the importance of design within business! Whether you are just starting out with a brand new business venture, or you are part of a large corporation; design should always be at the forefront of both your on and offline strategies.

Design is a reflection of your brand, so make sure it gives the very best representation of who you are and the services you offer by making it creative and intuitive.


4 Lunch Hour-Friendly Websites

When the weather is terrible and payday hasn’t quite arrived, many decide to stay at their desks and bring in lunch from home. When you’re sat at your desk for lunch, browsing the internet is pretty much inevitable and finding something to entertain you for a while is high on the agenda. If you are looking for a website or blog to while away your lunch hour, we have chosen a few favourites worth taking a look at!

1) I Love Charts

If you work in an office environment, the chances are you create, rely on or are at least in regular contacts with charts. This Tumblr blog is dedicated to the art of charts but don’t worry, you won’t find any boring yearly projections here; instead you can expect pie charts on the ratio of pancake ingredients used across the world, a family tree of Star Wars and the body count in different Tarrantino films amongst others!

2) Dog Shaming

Certainly one for dog lovers, this blog is dedicated to shaming naughty canines with humorous signs outlining their mischievous actions. A personal favourite is this naughty pug, but he took a lunch hour to choose because there are so many great ones!

3) Nic Cage as Everyone

This particular choice is ideal for a ten minute break, because really when you’ve seen a few, you get the gist. Nic Cage as Everyone is a blog dedicated to the face of Nicolas Cage superimposed onto pretty much everyone you can think of including Bane from Batman and the entire cast of the Brady Bunch. Weird? Most definitely, addictive? Oddly yes!

4) Awkward Family Photos

What makes this website so compelling is that we all have one tucked away somewhere, hoping it never sees the light of day! As you scroll through photos of families in matching outfits complete with disgruntled siblings and pets you will soon find your lunch hour flying past before your reach the end.

We love these simple website designs that allow users to scroll through with ease, so spend a lunchtime taking a look through and cheer yourself up on those rainy desk-bound days.

Five Amazing Store Fronts

Forget simple window dressers and an eye-catching logo. It seems that some retailers think it’s time to push the boundaries in what it takes to entice us into their shops today. Let’s face it. Competition is tough on the high street economy these days, and retailers have to raise the bar if they are going to draw us in with the intention of parting with our hard-earned cash.

Here are 5 store fronts from around the world which are just a little bit different from your bog-standard glass window retail store, or dreary high street brick work.

1. Swarovski ‘Crystal Forest’, Tokyo


The Swarovski Flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo is certainly a breath-taking site. The bold but simple logo is dominant in the centre of the facade, which is made from stainless steel mirrors. The light reflecting from the shop front seems almost blinding, and the result seems perfect for the crystal products they offer.

2. Salon Mittermeier, Austria

This very cool hair salon in Germany features a clever design, with a wavy strand of hair imitated through the jet-cut laminated sheets.

3. Electronics store, Japan

Not surprising this giant cell-phone featuring as a shop front was found in the tech-savvy Japan, and like all Japanese electronics, was probably way ahead of its time when built. Dated the sign may now be, but there is no denying it is an eye-catcher, and a very cool one at that.

4. Quarter Shoes, London

A giant Converse shoe sticking out the side of your shoe shop should be enough to draw anybody in. Based in Camden, London, the shoe also bares the company’s website address. Not easy to miss, and probably right at home in the town of ‘alternative culture’.

5. Yerba Buena Centre, San Francisco

In San Francisco, USA, feast your eyes on the coolest Apple shop front to be seen! Combining bright colours in stencil-like paint strokes and splatters, the eye is drawn immediately to the giant Apple logo. Sitting with its regular ‘Apple smugness’ which requires no need to state what company the store is functioning as, this fantastic shop front definitely does its job to entice people in.

We thought these amazing store fronts deserved a mention! For more information on our graphics and signage services, click here to discover what we can achieve.

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A Case for Rebranding


On the 16th November, ITV revealed their new logo, which will be rolled out in the New Year. The bold green capitals of yesteryear are to be replaced with multi-coloured, cursive script in lowercase. This will accompany the dropping of the number from the ITV1 brand name.

Reactions in the branding community have been mixed. Some applaud the logo for being ‘friendlier’, ‘more lively’, ‘colourful, modern and contemporary’ (among them Peter Fincham, the creative behind the BBC’s circling hippos). Others complain that it looks ‘immature’, ‘all fun and no substance’, a ‘twee and scribbly analogue’ (ouch!). Then there are those who point at our increasingly cross-channel viewing habits and wonder why ITV (itv?) has taken the time and money to rebrand at all.

Probably the most frequent criticism, however, is that the new logo is likely to look dated very quickly.

All this controversy drags up memories of the Olympic logo debacle. When it emerged that the designers for the London 2012 logo were paid millions to come up with something iconically British, the public went mad – the jagged, fluorescent ‘2012’ seemed irrelevant and too ‘design-y’. But by the summer, the unapologetically modern logo seemed appropriate for our Games of firsts. Perhaps a fresh new logo is just what ITV needs, too.

London 2012

ITV is not alone in being typographically whimsical: it’s pepsi, (not Pepsi), bing (not Bing), flickr (not Flickr), and eBay (not Ebay); for some reason, the French energy firm is eDF (not EDF) – but only in its logo. adidas, intel, hp, amazonkindle… the list goes on.

Look back 100 years or so and it’s obvious that lowercase branding is hardly a new concept. The American writer e. e. cummings (Edward Estling Cummings) signed many of his poems in lowercase, and this unconventional orthography was quickly adopted by publishers until it became a kind of brand identity. For a present day example, look at Canadian singer k. d. lang.

While ITV’s detractors will continue to make the shelf-life argument, plenty of similar rebrands have stood the test of time. And let’s not forget, on Twitter the haters always make the most noise.

Perhaps the veiled and reluctant praise for the logo is most revealing of all – as summarised by Jonathan Sands, chairman of Elmwood, ‘I wish we’d done it.’

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When Logo Design Goes Wrong

Whether launching a new business venture or rebranding your existing company, the chances are you will be looking for a logo that stands out from the crowd in all the right ways for being sleek, professional and in keeping with the tone of your business.  We thought we would dedicate this post to some logos that have hit the nail on the head for standing out, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons!

Sherwin Williams

In 1906, paint and coating company Sherwin Williams decided that this logo was the one to plump for and the still use it proudly today. Unfortunately, choosing red as the colour paint to “cover the earth” with gives the logo a sinister look as you can’t deny the resemblance to dripping blood. Time for a change perhaps?

Village Family Dental Spa

This logo is above all else, confusing. Why is a muscly waiter serving you a tooth on a platter? The quality leaves a lot to be desired and fails to convey a professional and clinical tone.

The Detail Doctor

The Detail Doctor is a rather ironic name for this business when you look at the lack of detail in their logo! A mediocre font coupled with half a doodle of a car doesn’t really cut it as a professional logo.

Buffalo Bills Football Team

The team were named after famous soldier Buffalo Bill Cody, yet looking at the logo you wouldn’t know it. The big red rectangle coming out of the site of the buffalo’s head makes it look as though the beast has been impaled, which is not only inappropriate but also implies that the team are easily beaten.

Ahead of your logo design, take these disastrous offerings into consideration and make sure the end result is professional and eye-catching for all the right reasons!

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Snapshots of London 2012

With the Paralympics just about to start, we take a look back at some of the most awe-inspiring pictures taken during the Olympic Games this year thanks to the clever positioning of some great cameras. These photos were tweeted through specially created accounts for basketball, mat sports, pool events, table based games and stadium events.  These photos for us, sum up just what a spectacle the Olympics were. We can’t wait to see some of the action shots from the Paralympics!

1) We love this one tweeted from the basketball camera account because it’s a fantastic portrait.

2) This pool cam shot is a perfect example of what a fish eye lens is capable of achieving.

3) The composition of this shot from the stadium is what makes it one of our favourites, with the Olympic rings sitting nicely in the negative space.

stadium photo

4) Again, the composition of the photo is what has made it one of our favourites as the table forms a dynamic graphic shape and the colours of the athlete’s kit make for a fantastic contrast against the blue.

Table Tennis Photo

5) This photo from the mat showcases the pure exhaustion and relief athletes feel after competing.

Looking through these photos makes us even more excited for what the Paralympic Games hold for team GB, so good luck to all competing athletes. We can’t wait to see more striking photos of athletes in action.

Image Sources:!/l2012bballcam/media/slideshow?!/L2012PoolCam/media/slideshow?!/L2012StadiumCam/media/slideshow?!/L2012TableCam/media/slideshow?!/L2012MatCam/media/slideshow?

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