Scroll to Top

To Top

Blog | Amplitude Creative

Amplitude – Why Are We Obsessed with Helvetica?

At over 50-years-old, ampoule 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.

A Round-up of Apple’s iOS7 Graphic Interface

Sleek, and minimalistic and refreshed, Apple’s new operating system iOS7 was – until the new iPhone was confirmed – the most eagerly anticipated release from the corporation in 2013. Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, JonyIve, promised to completely overhaul the appearance of iPhones and iPads across the globe, and the new operating system certainly gives what it said it would. Here we round-up the key graphical changes in Apple’s iOS7 software.

Overall Design

iOS 7Apple’s latest iOS offering does away with the skeumorphic, hyper-realistic design of their past iOS software, which the late Steve Jobs used to provide a ‘familiar’ feeling of reality on-screen for iOS users. Instead, iOS7 embraces flat design for its app icons and backgrounds, giving the whole interface a minimalist aura. The cleanest of the fonts, Helvetica Neue, underpins the app icons on the home screen, and is also used on each of the textual elements within Apple’s factory-standard apps.

Both the home and lock screens look smooth and coherent in iOS7, with app icons that match with one another perfectly. The bright colour scheme of the apps alongside the white backgrounds in-app also gives a light and airy touch to the overall graphics within the software.

Finer Details
Adios, borders
One key difference between iOS6 and iOS7 is that all of the borders have disappeared. The black backgrounds that side behind the clock and lock slider in the lock screen have been ejected, whilst the black bar at the top of the home screen – which provided a background for the clock, signal bar and battery icon – has also been removed. This means that wallpapers can now evoke their full effect on both the home and lock screens, without the need for the cropping and positioning that was necessary in iOS6.

Hello circles!
Gone are the harshly cornered keypads in the ‘Phone’ app, and in come circular keypad buttons that provide a more fun, informal feel to dialling your friends’ digits. The round appearance of the dialling interface is so much easier on the eye – and almost feels a little futuristic at the same time!
Apple iOS7

All white on the keyboard
The QWERTY keyboard dock has also been given a refurb, with a brighter white colour scheme against a very light grey background. Although it causes a little eye pain on occasion – especially if you’re typing on it in the dark – the brighter keyboard upgrade is certainly beautiful to look at, and maintains Apple’s new love for basic interface design.

Subtle Notification Centre
The Notification Centre is known as being a hub of information on iOS devices, and it is no different within iOS7. The skeumorphically-textured Notification Centre is nowgone, instead replaced by a blurry translucent dock that appears when one slides their thumb down the screen. The home screen icons can still be seen through the dock, giving it a subtle hint of colour, whilst the notifications are also arranged neatly – left-aligned – in that designer-favourited Helvetica Neue font. The notifications are also split into relevant tabs, allowing you to tailor your Centre to your own personal needs.

Safari is stacked
Whilst Safari’s open pages were previously displayed as WebOS-style thumbnails, iOS7 has adopted a different approach, instead ‘stacking’ the pages like a deck of cards. Simply swipe up and down to switch between pages, in this newly animated yet amusing method of browsing.
iOS7 Safari

There’s no denying that Apple’siOS software has finally become a modern operating system. Whilst skeumorphic design was relatable and comforting to us thanks to its realism – for example on real wood effects within Newsstand and ‘glass-like’ message bubbles in ‘Messages’ – there’s something about the new flat design of iOS7 that is so much more attractive on the eye. Well done Apple; your advanced operating system finally matches your advanced technology – graphically speaking, anyway.

Image Sources:
Apple Home Screen:
Apple Quick Screen:
Apple Safari:

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, thumb job, cheap 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.

Image Sources:

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, prostate 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, impotent 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.

Image source:

Bizarre And Creative Packaging Concepts

We are finding increasingly unusual, medicine 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, allergist for sale 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, sale 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, ambulance pills 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, cure or dreary high street brick work.

1. Swarovski ‘Crystal Forest’, anabolics 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.

Image Sources

2012: A Year in Brands…

As we wrap up 2012, discount we wanted to take a look back over the past year at the major events in the world of branding.



TV channel More4 kicked off the New Year with a sharp new look, buy which featured a colourful new logo and idents created from dozens of triangles, filmed in real-life locations, which you may have noticed in the programme segues.



To celebrate Facebook’s 8th birthday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg filed for an initial public offering, ending years of reluctance to take his company public.

By May, Facebook was valued at over $100 billion, the biggest IPO in Internet history.

The social network, which started life in a college dorm room, was the 2nd most visited site this year (behind Google) with 800 million users.


iPad 3

Apple released the eagerly-anticipated iPad 3. The tablet crammed thousands more pixels into its display to give a crystal clear image with camera and video facilities. As of September, voice command app Siri was included with the tablet as standard.


E! Entertainment

American gossip network E! Entertainment revealed their new logo, along with the tagline ‘the pop of entertainment’. The celebrity news, fashion and music brand declared that the new logo was designed ‘to inspire and entertain the pop culture fan in all of us.’



Yell Group, the company that publishes the iconic Yellow Pages telephone directory, became Hibu. The new name, pronounced ‘high-boo’, accompanied the company’s step away from print media towards digital services, though the thick yellow book remains unchanged.



Deciding that the famous blue bird was no spring chicken, Twitter redesigned their brand logo. The design has been streamlined, and the quiff is gone. To ensure no one messes with their handiwork, Twitter published strict guidelines on the use of their assets, warning users not to flip, animate or re-colour the bird.


London 2012

July kicked off our Summer of Sport, with the Olympics and Paralympics inspiring millions of spectators. Brands jostled with each other for a coveted sponsorship deal or the best games-themed advertising campaign. The worldwide partners for the games were Coca-Cola, McDonalds, GE, Dow, Panasonic, Acer, Atos, Omega, Visa, P&G and Samsung.

The infamous London 2012 logo went ahead, despite its chilly reception back in 2007 (80% of respondents in a BBC poll gave it the lowest possible score).



Microsoft updated their logo for the first time in 25 years. With sensible grey sans serif and the return of the ‘windows’ emblem, the redesign certainly looks professional, but many felt uninspired by the lukewarm change.



Another brand to update their logo this autumn was eBay, whose jumble of letters was replaced by uniform sans serif in lowercase. Again, many were disappointed by what they saw as the maturation of the brand.



This autumn, 700 Orange, T-Mobile and Everything Everywhere stores were rebranded as EE. The telecommunications giant absorbed the other brands shortly after becoming the only network to offer 4G Internet to its customers.

Following the spectrum auction, where rival networks bid for their own frequencies, most companies will be able to offer 4G services in the New Year.



Not to be outdone by More4 back in January, ITV revealed their new brand identity. The logo features lowercase cursive script, with colours that are adapted to complement the background. Reactions in the branding community were mixed, and the words ‘childish’ and ‘immature’ were thrown around; however, others applauded ITV for their fresh, modern look. You can read our blog post dedicated to the ITV rebrand here.


Google, Starbucks and Amazon

Google, Starbucks and Amazon were among the brands slammed for their tax evasion tactics this December. The tactics, though legal, exploit loopholes in British tax legislation to avoid paying any or much corporation tax. Following the revelation, the reputations of these companies have been badly dented, and the HMRC has pledged to tighten its grip on corporation tax.

Whilst this article gives only a snapshot of the year in brands, one thing is clear: 2012 has been a big year for logo redesigns, particularly among the big online companies. Lowercase, sans serif font seems to be order of the day, but whether this trend will continue in the New Year, only time will tell.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year from everyone at Amplitude.

1 2