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Name that Typeface


Now that most (good) primetime shows have ended we are stuck with reruns or lame attempts at reality TV. Ashamed to admit it, Monday night I was watching For Love or Money (NBC’s rip-off of The Bachelor) and one thing that caught my eye (besides hunky Rob) was that all the graphics and even the Million Dollar checks were set in Mrs. Eaves. That was the coolest part of the show.

Most designers and typographers have this “gift” of being able to point out what typeface is being used in TV commercials, opening titles, billboards, etc. To our significant others, this is more of a curse and an annoyance.

Some typefaces seem to be embedded into brands or have strong relationships to movie posters and even TV shows (who can tell what typeface is used for Seinfeld?.) Sometimes just seeing the type before the logo comes on in a TV ad is enough to pinpoint who’s paying for those 30 seconds of air time.

What typeface=brand/ad/package/thing pairings stand out in your mind? Or, when have you seen a typeface sadly out of place? Let that geeky tendency out into the open and share it with people who get you.

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PUBLISHED ON Jun.04.2003 BY Armin
Ben’s comment is:

I think it was Crow: City of Angels that had a face designed just for it by David Carson, with a credit in the opening sequence. Who knew that you could movie star for designing a typeface? I must have been the only one in the theatre who noticed.

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:13 AM
armin’s comment is:

I got strangely over-excited when I saw Emigre's Los Feliz in the TV ad for Nissan's Murano.

One of my all time favorite pairings is Cooper Black and Garfield. Made for each other.

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:25 AM
Eduardo’s comment is:

This is my first time posting a comment here, but I visit SpeakUp regularly. Nice place. :-)

Just to say that your Seinfeld logo is set in Fenice, but iirc, most of the TV episodes used a Bodoni. That logo was slightly changed once or twice during the whole existence of the show, but I don't remember this Fenice version anyway.

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:33 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

One of my faces ended up on a VH1 special. I felt like a superstar. For about 10 seconds. Then realized VH1 sucked and went and watched something else.

You also quickly realize that making type is no way to make a living. ;o)

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:34 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I like their use of type in the SNL intro. I'm bad at picking out fonts.

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:36 AM
Ginny Tevere’s comment is:

I know that ATA uses skia as their typeface. Skia's a horrible typeface but it's friendly and that's probably why they chose it. Or they just hired a bad design firm to set their standards...

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:51 AM
Eduardo’s comment is:

I kinda liked the old times when local MTV used Kabel Black for videoclip's credits. But some years ago they started to use *ITC* Kabel Heavy! ITC Kabel! Awful. Not to mention they messed up with type size, leading, etc. :-/

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:53 AM
armin’s comment is:

> Skia's a horrible typeface but it's friendly

Skia is horrible, period. At marchFIRST we lost a logo war to our Brussels branch for a mexican communications company.

This is what they did.

This is what I did. Maybe it's not better, but at least it doesn't use Skia. Mexicans... what do they know?

On Jun.04.2003 at 09:59 AM
Ian’s comment is:

Clarendon used nicely.

On Jun.04.2003 at 10:05 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I remember Lucent's first tv ads (I think it was '94, which would have put me in my first year of Portfolio Center), with the copy being typed out on a computer screen as it was being voiced over. I think the typeface was Missive, and I recall that it was a way cool face. I don't remember how aware of David Carson I was at the time (he did the spots, not the typeface).

In college, before I even knew what a graphic designer was, a friend and I always tried to pick out typefaces in ads and movie titles. It's getting rather tiresome to see movie posters and think, "Oh goody...Trajan. Again."

Just this morning I saw a TV spot for Progressive insurance. I swear they are using Foundry Gridnik when they 'type' in the web address in their screen shot of a web browser.

On Jun.04.2003 at 10:09 AM
steve’s comment is:

Can someone back me up on this (or call me on it) I remember REALLY liking the titling for that somewhat unwatchable movie The Island of Dr. Moreau. The Val kilmner version...very Carson meets Margo Chase if I remember correctly. I also liked the titles for the Richard Gere / lawyer in China movie. Melded Chinese characters and roman letters. Sorry for the vagueness. Catch me if you can was GREAT. NEVER EVER saw that Emigre face Suburban used well until then...

On Jun.04.2003 at 10:09 AM
Ian’s comment is:

I couldn't find any images to referrence, but does anyone know what typeface was used for the Titles in The Beach? It looked very Helvetica Neue but stenciled. Also, I remember an alternate opening sequence on the DVD where something like Palatino was used...or I'm insane...maybe it was Hobo.

On Jun.04.2003 at 10:32 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Wasn't "The Isle of Dr. Moreau" also Missive? It's not a movie that's worth watching a second time, even for the credits.

On Jun.04.2003 at 10:49 AM
Ben’s comment is:

Another design tie-in to For Love or Money:

One of the girls on the show is a recent graduate from the design program at Washington University, she was a year behind me, now i find myself drawn to watching it.

On Jun.04.2003 at 11:15 AM
Ben’s comment is:

Does anyone else avoid buying books if they don't like the face on the cover? I find myself thinking twice about picking up books with Chicago on the cover.

On Jun.04.2003 at 11:17 AM
Damien’s comment is:

Did anyone see this, I'm trying to remember where I got the link from - and its possible it was from Speak Up somewhere - my apologies if it was already posted by someone.


On Jun.04.2003 at 12:05 PM
Brent’s comment is:

Does anyone else avoid buying books if they don't like the face on the cover?

Oh yeah, big time. I also run screaming from anything set in Comic Sans.

I remember noticing patric's Fastgirls in Lost in Space, I love that typeface.

On Jun.04.2003 at 12:08 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Another design tie-in to For Love or Money:

I know! there were two graphic designers. And I think in Joe Millionaire there was another hot graphic designer chick, although she had the balls of using "Graphic Design Specialist" as her title. And yes, I watch all that crappy TV.

On Jun.04.2003 at 12:10 PM
Sam’s comment is:

On a slightly related note of design stuff popping up in other stuff, the Magnetic Fields have a Pantone color in "Reno Dakota""

You know you enthrall me

and yet you don't call me

it's making me blue---

Pantone 292


On Jun.04.2003 at 12:21 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Who's knocking Kabel?

On Jun.04.2003 at 12:35 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> "Graphic Design Specialist"

She was a gold-diggin, pantone-chippin hottie. I think she was pitched in the third round.

Hey! I only watched Millionaire cause my wife made me. I refuse to partake in such further trash. Now American Idol on the other hand...

On Jun.04.2003 at 01:10 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

I may be wrong, but I think "The Transporter" used Engravers Gothic.

On Jun.04.2003 at 01:37 PM
john’s comment is:

Interesting topic. I personally think that a lot of designers are using the "odd ball" typefaces as a crutch so to speak. Maybe it boredom with the "old school" classics... maybe its a burning desire to be "special"... Maybe it's a case of "band wagon" designing... who knows. Too often these "odd ball" fonts don't really "add" anything to communication / message and even from time to time hurt the readability in its desperate attempt to be "cool and new" I have seen too much work where someone has spent days looking for that "unique font" and what they end up with is Garamond, or Helvetica, or Times, etc. with a "little cheese" sprinkled on top (so to speak) ... and the sad part the more "classic" type would have been a better solution. I guess I am just too old school, and feel that you can do "almost" anything with a traditional font you can with some "new and exciting" font you pulled of the web... and more times than not it will even look better. Now, all that said, there are times where I have seen a odd font used in an amazingly wonderful way... but those cases are pretty rare. Just my opinion on it...

On Jun.04.2003 at 04:05 PM
steve’s comment is:

Hobo was only ever used well ONCE. In my humble opinion. And anyone who lives in L.A. would know...hint it's a famous theater and it's set vertically. Hobo is a 'classic' font that irks me whenever I see it...not sure why. Cooper Black had the same effect...until I saw it used on the "pet Sound" album, now it has a special place in my heart.

On Jun.04.2003 at 07:31 PM
o__n’s comment is:

As far as movies and type go, The Royal Tennenbaums stands out far above the crowd. I felt it was the only time a director took type into consideration as an integral part of his film, except maybe Patrick McGoohan and Albertus for The Prisoner.

Sorry I haven't spoken up more. Excellent forums.


On Jun.05.2003 at 12:57 AM
Eduardo’s comment is:

Darrel, I'm not sure what "knocking Kabel" means here.

But, just to make myself clear, I definitively enjoy Kabel. Notice, I mean the original Kabel. Super-low x-height, long ascenders. :-)

Now, IMHO, ITC Kabel (as well as some other ITC revivals) just looks bad.

On Jun.05.2003 at 08:45 AM
Kevin Lo’s comment is:

Slightly related.... I'm wondering if anyone else has this experience.

Every time I start using a new typeface I get pretty excited and use it almost exclusively for a couple of months and then I start seeing it everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. I'm not sure if its a subconcious thing or whether I just become more aware of the type once I start using it or if I am a local trendsetter (highly unlikely). Its weird though.

Examples include(I hate to admit this one) Bank Gothic about four years ago, Mrs. Eaves(I know I was following a trend with this one, but I still started seeing it in the most unusual places), Dead History more recently(I saw this used in Canadian Government, possibly military, ad of all things) and DIN schriften(which though very nice is starting to make everything around me very neutral).

On Jun.05.2003 at 11:33 AM
Tan’s comment is:

DIN, and its American brother, Interstate -- is everywhere. But oversaturation is a pattern in our industry unfortunately.

On Jun.05.2003 at 02:02 PM
Tan’s comment is:


Britney Spears.

don't ask guys. long story...

On Jun.05.2003 at 03:27 PM
armin’s comment is:

You made my day : )

On Jun.05.2003 at 03:29 PM
luumpo’s comment is:

OMG guys I totally saw the most awesomest use of helvetica today on...


On Jun.05.2003 at 05:08 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Chances are that you guys simply don't get Skia.

Mrs Eaves indeed... Robin Kinross has equated it to a loose bicycle. He's a softie.


On Jun.05.2003 at 09:14 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Chances are that you guys simply don't get Skia.

Oh I get it! And I think it sucks. Little useful for designers.

On Jun.06.2003 at 08:50 AM
Ian’s comment is:

This is all over this.

It's simple to note sans when gaining popularity, but it will take a real stud to tell this from this when these serifs get big.

On Jun.06.2003 at 11:30 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Montrachet vs. Baskerville? Please.

Granted, the caps are alike, but the itals are night and day different. The Baskerville lowercase "g" rules -- just as in the appropriately relates Mrs. Eaves.

On Jun.06.2003 at 12:59 PM
luumpo’s comment is:

Has anyone noticed Keedy Sans on the new Wendy's drink cups? I don't particularly like the design, but it was nice to see something different.

On Jun.06.2003 at 02:12 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

> Little useful for designers.

Screw designers. Well, once in a while at least.

Seriously: there are other reasons to make fonts

besides selling crap to the masses.


On Jun.06.2003 at 04:52 PM
Rebecca’s comment is:

Could anyone point me in a direction in which to go about finding logotypes using futura? I'm sure there are tons. I know Absolut, Volkswagen, AOL, Lycos....I also heard FedEx was. I've been searching like crazy but unfortunately haven't found many. Any sites that are good with logotypes would be greatly appreciated, or if anybody knows any logotypes off the top of their head.

On Sep.22.2004 at 07:41 PM
sheepstealer’s comment is:

I believe Novell is based on Futura.

Zat Help?

On Sep.22.2004 at 07:44 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Since Luc[as] de Groot did a superb rendering of Futura for Volkswagen recently, you could try asking him. Another good place to ask is the Neufville/Bauer foundry of Barcelona: they're the owners of the original Futura, as far as I know.


On Sep.23.2004 at 12:47 AM
ian’s comment is:

Does anyone else avoid buying books if they don't like the face on the cover? I find myself thinking twice about picking up books with Chicago on the cover.

I absolutely adore Chicago. I swear. It looks really good when set small with aliasing on, the way it was meant to be. I realize I am alone on this one.

On Sep.23.2004 at 10:34 AM