What if famous brands had regular fonts? RegulaBrands

What if famous brands had regular fonts? - RegulaBrands

What if famous brands had regular fonts? - RegulaBrands

Last week, I was having a skype call with a friend in Italy, who also happens to be a communication designer. And like every other time, we took a detour to one of our favorite topics of discussion – ‘clients’.

Call it coincidence, fate or a mutual observation, we both have been asked the same question time and again, by our clients. They may pop up as suggestions or doubts. At times, they are more of a threat!

The common ones are “all my office computers have Arial. Let’s use it for our logo”

“I thought logos are always Times New Roman”

“My daughter loves Comic Sans!”

To sum up all the versions of this typical query and deliver it into a simple sentence, it would be, “why can’t we use a standard font for our logo?”

This is where I decided to do a simple exercise to recreate famous brands using regular fonts, to “RegulaBrands”.

Please be honest and have a look at these 12 recreated brands. It will be exciting to share your thoughts and have a discussion on this exercise.

IBM recreated using Rockwell Bold

IBM recreated using Rockwell Bold

Puma recreated using Helvetica Neue Condensed Black

Puma recreated using Helvetica Neue Condensed Black

Vogue recreated using Times New Roman

Vogue recreated using Times New Roman

Coca-Cola recreated using Mistral

Coca-Cola recreated using Mistral

Blackberry recreated using Arial Bold Italic

Blackberry recreated using Arial Bold Italic

Heineken recreated using Rockwell Bold

Heineken recreated using Rockwell Bold

Swatch recreated using Helvetica Neue

Swatch recreated using Helvetica Neue

Audi recreated using Arial Black

Audi recreated using Arial Black

Discovery recreated using Century Gothic Bold

Discovery recreated using Century Gothic Bold

Unilever recreated using Honey Script

Unilever recreated using Honey Script

Facebook recreated using Verdana Bold

Facebook recreated using Verdana Bold

Fedex recreated using Century Gothic Bold

Fedex recreated using Century Gothic Bold

What’s the verdict? Are the RegulaBrands working better than the original brands?

I wish I could find a brand which would use ‘Comic Sans’ as its RegulaBrand but no luck till now. May be, you could suggest a brand?

Really excited to read your comments and discuss on why do type designers not choose a regular font too often and more.

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About the Author:

Himanshu Khanna is the founder of Pixelonomics and a senior designer at Sparklin. If you’d like to connect with him, follow him on Twitter: @SparklinGuy

  • Saurabh Mathur

    Nice job there, Himanshu :)

    Very interesting topic. Personally, I imagine all ‘Regulabrand’ logos above except Coca Cola would have gone down well with me just the same. Assuming I had no prior knowledge of these logos with the original typeset they exist in, right now. Coca Cola’s regulabrand logo would have made me go ‘Wtmf, Coca Cola? What is up with your logo?’.

    As far as using commonly available fonts for logos is concerned, I think its better that brands chose to go with unique and distinguishable fonts (sometimes even their own custom fonts). Its part of their brand identity and it gives us the unique one-on-one connect that we form with brands over the years. I would hate to see Arial, Helvetica and TNRoman being used all over the place. Considering the number of brands out there, and a generic family of 6-7 fonts, soon enough we would have logos looking more and more like each other. A bigger font size Arial/Helvetica text is H1/H2 Heading to me. I wouldnt think much more of it :p.

    And let’s not forget we would have way too many Comic Sans Logos. And that’s just not good.

  • http://twitter.com/riteshagar Ritesh Agarwal

    I have a feeling that logo’s with a regular font have a lower recall since people tend to connect with a ‘charming’ difference. But at the same time they can be beneficial many times if the ‘charm’ isn’t met (maybe I am pointing new and old airtel)..
    P.S: The data above is by a Business guy, hence designers kindly don’t bash me for my comments/feedbacks.

  • http://twitter.com/ysaurabh Saurabh Verma

    All this goes well for a quick copycats, though as pointed out by @google-95d02490db919abf652c101b64509f57:disqus Coke suffered a lot from this experiment..

    I think that was designed in last.. :)

  • http://twitter.com/mansigrover Mansi Grover

    I would prefer unique fonts anyday. A logo needs to reflect the company’s personality and regular fonts won’t really chaperon that cause.  As the old saying goes, A picture is worth a thousand words. The logo represents that picture and can be remembered and identified with greater ease. Plus the regular font distorts the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo :D

  • Mrinalini Chandra

    Very Interesting Article! :) 

  • http://twitter.com/ThePickyC Charu Gaur Naidu

    Hmmm… I have to say a lot of these logos posted above look different from Regular Font ones mainly because of certain tweaks like spacing(as in the FED EX logo), lack of elements (like the dot in the discovery logo) and thickness. So here the logos look like imitations as we see on fake products and that’s why are not liking them. But if you had seen them like that from the beginning may be we wouldn’t have hated them. I AM NOT at all saying that brands should go for regular fonts. Not at all. But considering what Audi and Blackberry have done with Arial, and Vogue’s experiment with Times New Roman I think it’s clearly the designer’s ability to turn them around.

  • http://twitter.com/vishu2max Vishal

    Very interesting and thought provoking post.

    I had never thought of this but now that you’ve asked I would totally want the brands to choose unique fonts for their logos and taglines (in some cases). This would not only help them in giving a unique and different look to their so called Brand Identity but somewhere also help them in reducing fake replica’s (i’m assuming its different to replicate the unique logos instead of the regular ones).

    Now as a person or a consumer who is familiar with the above brands..out of the regulabrands you’ve mentioned above only Heineken looks better or atleast at par with the original.

    As a consumer who is unaware of the above brands I dont think it would make much of a difference except the Coca-Cola and Swatch logos.

    Also a lot of Brand logos have hidden messages and meanings which will probably not be achieved using the regular one .. The FedEx arrow is one such example.

  • http://twitter.com/vishu2max Vishal

    Try getting popular logos and their regulabrand from some other countries ( the ones we probably have not seen) and you might see people choosing the regulabrand :D

    • kaley

      I’d be very interested to see this as well.

  • http://twitter.com/sa_lil Salil

    Really wouldn’t have made much of a difference, as you can see. Leave the legacy issues out, and you will see the “standard” fonts will work just as fine. The one concern with using standard fonts: Intellectual Property. You cannot claim copyright over Arial Black or Helvetica and hence, your brand is vulnerable to be cloned, duplicated very easily. 

  • Mrinalini Chandra

     Regular fonts are just as good as fancy ones. I would go for something that relates to My products ..and aesthetically makes an impact not depending on which category does the font really falls into.  I Believe ,easier it is  to interpret the  name.. more popular the brand name gets. I Think as a normal consumer the attention span towards the Font of the brand name is only of a few seconds. There is a phenomena that I am sure you are aware of according to which any regular word has a spelling stored in our memories. And even if We find a jumbled up spelling of that word somewhere we are still able to read it clear. To me the Font works exactly the same.

     It could be written in any Font but how its written makes a difference Like I love the *Espree  * is written! But I don’t care what font it is written. Also, my personal style is very ornate! So, I like it If the font is slightly ornate. Depends on what is the connection of the brand with the products they are selling.  But I don’t know If a brand really considers the connect with the products? I mean everybody is selling everything now a days! It can be difficult. I like the way you have redone Vogue in your article. Its interesting. I think the idea is much deeper than what It appears to be.

  • http://www.sahilparikh.com Sahil Parikh

    Good stuff. Though, I would prefer unique fonts for brands. That would make them stand out and have recall value. Opening a Heineken now :)

  • Kim Bhasin

    It depends on the brand. For some, the fonts have become an integral part of their logo, which then means that it’s fundamentally important to their branding. Coca-Cola’s the most obvious example of that out of the ones up there (to me, Facebook’s jarring as well). 

    I’d imagine if you did brands like Nike, Apple and McDonald’s, they could get away with it over time since consumers identify so intensely with the Swoosh, the Apple and the Golden Arches. Still, it’d affect the brands in some way.

    But Coca-Cola, Disney, Budweiser etc. are brands that rely on that unique font.

  • Monpasha Mukherjee

    Aah! To begin with, love this. Extremely thought provoking. Made me reconsider everything I have “learnt” as a designer. 

    There is no denying that a font can be identified only to the trained eye. Unless ofcourse it is something as memorable as Comic Sans. (Pun-intended!) Out of all the examples above, most was taken away from FEDEX once the font changed. The logotype which is known for the negative space usage between EX, that creates an arrow was lost when the font was changed. Similarly, the iconic F of Facebook lost it’s impact once the font changed. 

    A font doesn’t have to be unique per se for it to be used as a logo. It is how a font is used. A lot of places I have notices the use of simple, available fonts but customized to make it memorable. David Airey, a noted graphic designer swears by this method. 
    Also, on a personal level I think every logo designer wants a little bit of themselves to be immortalized in the logo that they created. No one would remember a logo that has used Arial Black, because it’s redundant, easily available and vulnerable to plagiarism. It doesn’t add anything to the brand, unless of course, it does. There is no room for mediocrity in the design world. Everything has to be brilliant, innovative and memorable. 
    What fun would it be if all the big brands used the same font? We would have nothing to discuss, tear apart and put back together. Design on its own would perish without our eccentricity and obsession of being remembered. 


    • http://www.behance.net/Debashis Debashis Nayak

      Very well said

      • http://twitter.com/CodeLion Ken Palmer

        The white arrow in the FedEx logo was the first thing that came to mind.

    • Anonymous

      I never even noticed the arrow until you mentioned it! I even had trouble seeing it AFTER you had mentioned it. :)

    • Anonymous

      I have also never noticed the arrow until now.  That logo will never be the same.  Very well stated!

  • http://www.kinshuksunil.com Kinshuk Sunil

    An interesting perspective to branding. In most occassions, here, the regular brand was very close to the unique font, in a way. However, a brand logo is just not an icon+text, but its an identity, and has to be reflective of the company’s personality. Having said that, I do believe that if Vogue, Heineken, Audi, Discovery and FedEx had used the regular brand from the beginning, our perception of those brands wouldnt have been much different and yet we would have been talking about how regular fonts can be used to create intense brand communication ;)

    my 2 cents

  • http://twitter.com/arifkhan7 Arif Khan

    If famous brands had regular fonts, it would have led to an identity crisis. Imagine all brands in Arial or Verdana. 

  • http://twitter.com/delhidreams delhidreams

    let’s use a simple analogy. 
    logo units are the face of a company/product/brand and i wouldn’t name them as mere fonts, regular or unique apart.fonts are rest of the body. (remember that overtime even a workhorse font becomes a sort of visual identity for a company.) both have different usage and identity and one shouldn’t confuse between the two. 

    btw, the difference that you are trying to create between a unique vis a vis regular font is based on a matter of exposure over time and not by some innate uniqueness versus commonality. for example, today if brand coca cola authorizes its logo unit font to be commonly used in word processors, it’ll lose its uniqueness pretty soon. it won’t remain a unique brand, will soon become another ordinary name in the crowd.

    and last, the term ‘regular brand’ in itself is fallacy. a brand by its very definition has to have a unique identity, if it is regular, it is not a brand.

  • Kosmar

    Comic sans? Try Disney

  • http://twitter.com/drivenrajat Rajat Gupta

    Nice exercise.!  
    I guess regular fonts cannot make the lasting impression as we see them regularly everywhere. Little tweaking or using unique fonts stands them out from regular text.

  • Nikhil Rishi

    If its going to be in regular fonts.. designers wont have much work to do.. :D

    Call it the way to make them stand out or the way by which not every random guy could reproduce the logos..

  • Jasdeep Singh

    hmmm… to be very honest. I have mixed reactions to this post. On one side where these regular  fonts don’t hurt at the same time it’s a little harder to imagine all the companies using same fonts over and over again. Type is something that you would use to stand out from the crowd – And standing out is very important! Because we see these regular fonts daily on our computers in various different applications I think our eye’s are trained enough to recognize these regular Type faces. Sometimes it’s not the logo or the icon itself that matters as much as the Type matters. For example – Bell Canada (http://bell.ca) uses a font which is very much close to your regular fonts but you cannot recreate the popular brand experience and identity with regular types. If it was for regular types, companies would not pay Type face designers like Ian Brignell (http://www.ianbrignell.com/) millions of dollars just to create Type faces. So, I believe Type does hold some importance as far as brand identity is concerned.

    Now, on the same note – It’s all about experimenting – If Bell had used some regular font for their identity and made me consume that. Well, then that is their branding – I might’ve not cared. So, yes you made a valid point there! It’s all relative.

  • http://twitter.com/monis_manzoor Monis Manzoor

    May be, all those companies have a perception that the regular fonts are a bit outdated. It reflects the essence of their company and it would differentiate them from each other well. 

  • http://twitter.com/nidhign Nidhi

    An interesting post!

    Logo is what identifies the brand and keeps its image intact in its customers’ minds. If they’re captured in our regular fonts, the brand loses its uniqueness, more than the logo losing it. It is important for the logo to be unique in order for it cast a lasting impression.

  • http://navchatterji.com/ Nav Chatterji

    Shows how important fonts can be for the brand-ability of a logo. Interesting exercise.

  • Tracie

    If you tweaked the kerning, some would look fine I think.  But I agree with some of the other posters who said it would get a bit boring if all brands used only a couple of regular fonts.  

    • kaley

      I think part of the point the author was making was that most non-designers that are trying to make a logo in word or powerpoint aren’t going to kern any of the letters, they’re going to type it and let it exist as-is.

  • Abhijeet Makhijani

    to begin with, its a good effort to recreate the logos. It’d be nice to recreate 2-3 different logos in the same font and place them together. That should give a better idea on what we are trying to discuss here. 
    Also, from a lay man’s perspective, it is for the same reason that brands don’t use standard colours.  

  • Conor

    This is great! You could probably implement the changes to BlackBerry, Discovery, and Heineken with only the geekiest of logo geeks noticing. Great stuff!

  • Cian Shortt

    The only one to really lose its effect with the change is FedEx because the font loses the arrow between the E and X.

    • Gormster

      Um, did you SEE the Coca-Cola one?

      • Cian Shortt

        Yes, yes I did.

  • Jsdlkfj

    You should do examples for American Airlines, Target, Microsoft, 3M, JCPenney, and Lufthansa. Maybe use Helvetica as the RegulaBrand.


  • Anonymous

    Honestly, most of those logos don’t lose anything by switching to RegulaBrands, and if they were kerned a bit better some might even be superior. Fedex and Coca Cola are exceptions to that. But I’d be willing to bet if you showed most people the other logos mixed up they wouldn’t be able to tell you which the real one is.

  • Anonymous

    Nice idea, thanks for sharing. 

  • Anonymous

    IBM, BlackBerry and Heineken kind of work. Discovery needs better kerning.

    • Anonymous

      You can’t just fix Discovery with better kerning.  If you look at the angle of the in stroke and out stroke on the “c,” kerning won’t help it align with the “o” as it is in the brand.

  • Anonymous

    Sort of like in a movie when fedex is fadex and its using some other random font.

  • food4thought

    my question is why not try to emulate the same kerning or tracking in the redesign? Some of the redesigns look worse than they should, because they have not had the same finesse in their layout which isn’t the font’s issue as much as the design. 

    • William Armstrong

      I believe that part of the point is to justify that amount of customization for the font. The client understands that it takes time and money to create new fonts. 

      Also, if you must customize the font, it was not suited for your purpose. Fonts are intended to be used in text, to be read. Logo’s are really intended to be remembered. Readable fonts have been shown to lead to less retention of the subject matter. It would be interesting if that held true for logos. 

  • http://twitter.com/Pacoup Pacoup

    Way to go to ruin logos. Geez.

  • Anonymous

    But…but…a good number of those are already in “regular” fonts, just w/ the occasional kerning adjustment.

    Discovery channel uses Gotham.

    FexEx uses Univers (more noticeable the more letters you have, like on the sides of their trucks).

    Vogue looks like it’s something in the same vein as Didot or Bodoni (a modern-style font, in other words).  I very much doubt it was hand-lettered.  In fact, upon further comparison of letter shapes, I think it may actually just be a slightly condensed weight of Didot.

    So how are we drawing the line here between “regular” and non-regular logotype?  Because each of these fonts is pretty widely used….

  • Anonymous

    This article was much needed to illustrate that, logos cannot be designed in MS Word or Paint (or any other non-design software). I am amazed to read the comments that say that if you just fix the ‘kerning’ for the regular system fonts they can be replaced with custom fonts in any famous brands. 

    First of all, ‘kerning’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerning) is when you ‘edit’ the spaces between letters to make it custom. 

    The term you are looking for is ‘tracking’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracking_(typography)), Only a few advanced non-design softwares allow you to proportionally adjust the letter spacing.

    But, that is not the point of this article. The idea to be put forward to clients who insist that one can reduce the design process by using any system font.

    The whole point of designing a brand is to create a ‘unique’ trademark, exclusive only to that particular entity. If we start using the same 6-7 fonts for all logos just to be supported on ALL computers in the clients office, we have really lost the plot. 

    • David

      Logos cannot be designed in ANY software. Software is just a tool for execution. A logo is designed in the intangible world of the mind, and a good one is designed as a result of a good idea and solid research.

      A great identity designer could probably scrape by with PowerPoint if they had to.

  • Laxman Pant

    Making of just a logo without actually changing anything else in the organization will be like putting lipstick on a gorilla.

  • http://twitter.com/johnnygf johnnygf

    Lots of brands use Helvetica as their logotype. Many use Interstate for copy. They look serious and well designed, but sometimes it can make them look less distinctive. Part of the reason for using a custom logotype is that it gives the company more control over their trademark and brand identity so that people can’t rip off their work.

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  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Sorry, what the hell’s the point of this? Less interesting versions of popular logos?

    • Anonymous

      The point is clear. You cant make good logos without customizing regular fonts.

  • Anonymous

    Other than Swatch and Coca Cola, the alternatives for the other where very close to the originals.

  • CT

    Gotta say, in my eyes (disclaimer: I’m not a designer) little or nothing is lost in most of these font substitutions.

    Coca-Cola is an outright downgrade. FedEx also suffers, but only
    because the new standardized kerning eliminates the subliminal
    arrow formed by the “ex”.

    The rest of the logos remain at least
    as polished – no worse than lateral moves. In fact, in Unilever’s case,
    I’d say there’s a marked improvement! (Although just how “standard” is
    Honey Script?)

    Not to discount the value of some of the stylized
    fonts. Puma and Swatch, in particular, communicate in a distinctive
    voice. And I realize there’s a big difference between re-visualizing
    familiar logos and creating wholly-new brand identities – the former
    violates an established equity while the latter is a blank slate. Still,
    as an illustrative example of how critical font/typography is, this
    exercise isn’t extreme enough.

    • kaley

      I think this proves the author’s point exactly. since you stated that you’re not a designer, i’m wondering how much of your opinion that little or nothing is lost in the substitutions is coming from the fact that the colors and iconography were not changed…

  • Admjeffrey

    I think many people in the comments are missing the main point of this article. Many are responding as if the author is arguing FOR regular fonts in logos… clearly not the case. It is a simple exercise to show those that don’t have a designers mind and can’t understand the impact that the subtleties of customizing a type face for a logo can have (clients). Anyone can look at this and very quickly and clearly understand why just using a “regular font” in a logo is far from ideal by seeing the side-by-side comparison of the two. Think of it as a tool to show the next client you have that questions or challenges why you are “wasting time” customizing the type for a logo instead of just using a font they like.

  • NanC

    for the article, perfect  for a current client that uses Helvetica
    Black as their current logo font, now can better explain and show examples of this concept of that you can’t
    reduce the design process by using any system font and using any old font takes
    away the customization of a font. Also, kind of shocked as ‘deepikah’ of the
    number of people that complained that the kerning and tracking needs to be
    changed, clients wouldn’t change the leading if they designed the logo
    themselves with Microsoft or desktop programs. Also even though designers use
    standard fonts they still customize the characters to the typeface (to earlier
    response) Fedex is a font was achieved by creating a proprietary font, based on
    Univers 67 (Bold Condensed) and Futura Bold  to emphasize the arrow
    shape: http://logodesignerblog.com/lindon-leader-the-man-behind-the-fedex-logo/

  • http://twitter.com/arzvi Arun

    What about tumblr for Comic sans. Also check out –  http://bancomicsans.com/ the rage against that font. 
    Anyway, awesome article about logos and the fonts. I find the following could be pertinent to this discussion1. need of individuality2. description of the character of the company (vogue – thin – goes with the fashion mags, puma – goes with the gothic animal)3. mood it tries to create (Audi – exclusivity, IBM – equality in every facet of the company) 4. Specialties – the arrow in the FedEx etc. 

  • Shaakun Sethi

    Though I don’t know much about logo designs but as an observer and a Psychology student what I can evaluate is,  what can be created by anyone is not accepted with the same respect as something which is unique…

  • http://twitter.com/trevorkluke Trevor Kluke

    Some more examples done back in October.


  • cheerios

    Reading through the comments makes me realize that a designers trained eye sees so many things that most people glaze over completely. The world is quite spoiled by finessed typography and high end image retouching even in newspapers but design can often be a job that if done properly, no one notices it. By nature, design solves problems. Typography solving the problem such as making things legible. At a higher level even if the typeface or characters that have been tweaked into custom forms create nuances and feelings of a word that make things friendlier or more approachable, more sleek or special. It’s sad how unappreciated design is.

  • Mcwil19

    Many of these are not based on fact, just conjecture. The Coca-Cola logo was designed well before Mistral was designed in 1953.

    • sebastienpaquet

       good observation! Also, the kerning has a lot of weight in the impression we form of the logo. The kerning is off in most of the recreated logos. It’s an intuitive thing. Btw the recreated Puma logo looks like the one on a fake puma t-shirt I bought in Mexico when I was 16.

  • Anonymouse

    To answer the author’s original question, I think the only case where the RegularBrand works better is Discovery.  It comes across bolder and stronger than the original.  Excellent food for thought…

  • Muhsin Mahmud

    Why don’t you Shut up because it won’t ever have regular font’s that’s what makes it unique

  • Ben Personick

    Several look nicer in regular, most look as good. I thought they all just took regular fonts and tweeked them so they could trade-mark it and sue anyone who tried to impersonate them.

  • Peter versus Pan

    Good point in general — BUT: I can hardly tell the old and new IBM apart, while the new Heineken looks like a great improvement. Coca-Cola obviously suffers the most in the change. There is actually a font available for free download, trying to imitate the Coca-Cola look, but it fails miserably on the very letter that matters most, as letters in regular fonts can’t extend over or under several other letters. The font in question thus makes the ‘C’ as long as the ‘oca’ and the ‘ola’, looking utterly dreadful.

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