39 logo fonts every designer should know

Typeface can make or break the design of a logo. The right logo font amplifies the impact of your logo (and brand), while the wrong font could be a customer buzzkill. That’s why we’re featuring the most notable, game-changing logo fonts from each era—starting in the 1600s and moving all the way to the present!

The timeline of font evolution has shaped 21st century design, and understanding this history will give you a strong foundation for creating and critiquing logos. Bookmark this post as your logo fonts 101 resource: you’ll want to return often for inspiration!

1600 – 1980 logo fonts

The 1600s through the 1980s set the stage for typography as we know it. During this period, designers defined major font categories we still use today—like serif, sans-serif, slab-serif and geometric. The intense care and attention to detail in these typefaces have made them timeless: They have resurfaced again and again in different iterations and the logos of many major brands. Which is why they are well worth getting to know.

1. Typeface name: Garamond

Year created: 16th century
Foundry/Designer: Claude Garamond, Jean Jannon
Country: France
Style: Old-style serif
Comments: Garamond is more of an umbrella term for typefaces than a single typeface. Many of the iterations we see in recent decades are interpretations of alphabets designed by Claude Garamond and Jean Jannon in the 16th century. Interestingly, the Garamond typeface became one of the first “famous” typefaces when it was presented at the Paris World’s Fair in the 1900, and dozens of variations soon followed. This fame has continued into later decades, as seen in the examples above.

Garamond has an elegant appearance. The serifs on each letter are carefully crafted to convey their own personality, most notably the ones on the capital “T”. Because the serifs are so expressive, they can easily be used in a playful context—as seen in the early Apple branding. The refined letterforms also allow this font to be taken in a sophisticated direction—like in the American Eagle logo.

2. Typeface name: Bodoni

Year created: 1700s (late)
Foundry/Designer:  Giambattista Bodoni
Country: Italy
Style: Modern (Didone), serif
Comments: The Bodoni typeface surfaced during a time when typeface designers were experimenting with the contrast between thick and thin type characteristics. Giambattista Bodoni took that experiment to an extreme, creating this dramatic font. It has resonated through time in famous logos like Vogue and Calvin Klein, and is a great font to consider for mainstream fashion brands.

As you’ll see below, Bodoni has a lot in common with the Didot family of typefaces because it was created around the same time in history. Regardless, the Bodoni typeface has its own style.

3. Typeface name: Didot

3-didot

Year created: 1799
Foundry/Designer: Didot
Country: France
Style: Didone, serif
Comments: Before Didot became known as a typeface, it was the name of a family composed of French printers, punch cutters and publishers in the late 1700s. They created many versions of Didot, one of which is used in the Giorgio Armani logo. Similar to Bodoni, the high contrast in line thickness creates drama. This font is also commonly seen in the fashion world. Didot works best when used simply, with careful kerning and high contrast colors.

4. Typeface name: Futura

Year created: 1927
Foundry/Designer: Paul Renner
Country: Germany
Style: Geometric, sans-serif
Comments: Futura might be one of the most successful and most used typefaces of the 20th century. Its unusual, geometric letterforms project an optimistic modernism. The style is reflective of the radical artistic experimentation in Germany at the time, especially at the Bauhaus art school, whose values revolved around functionality and order. They also believed that the individual artistic spirit could coexist with mass production.

In the end, Futura is a classic sans-serif that holds its own against other typefaces of any era. FedEx and Swissair are two companies who have built strong brand identities with the modern—yet friendly—letterforms.

5. Typeface name: Rockwell

5-rockwell

Year created: 1934
Foundry/Designer:  Monotype
Country: United States
Style: Slab serif
Comments: While Rockwell hasn’t been in the limelight recently, it’s a standout typeface from the 1930s. This is a classic slab serif face, which means that the serifs are unbracketed and of similar weight to the balance of each character.

Rockwell’s letterforms are pleasing in their simplicity. The shapes don’t feel overwhelming, even though they are complex. This font would make a great signature for businesses dealing with utility, construction or no-nonsense clothing.

6. Typeface name: Univers

Year created: 1954
Foundry/Designer:  Adrian Frutiger
Country: Switzerland
Style: Neo-grotesque sans-serif
Comments: Univers was one of the first typeface styles to present the idea of a consistent font family. The Univers family includes a wide range of weights, widths and positions. Its designer, Frutiger, was not the biggest fan of purely geometric fonts and described Univers as having “visual sensitivity between thick and thin strokes, avoiding perfect geometry.” This attention to detail gives the letterforms a deep nuance.

Looking at the examples above, the cover to Europa/America creates an international and utilitarian look through its use of Univers uppercase letterforms. Meanwhile, the eBay logo shows a lot of personality. The arm of the lowercase “e” has a slightly lighter stroke than the rest of the character, the inner edge of the bowl of the “b” is shifted slightly to the left—creating interesting stroke variation—and the “a” and “y” feature delightfully unexpected shapes and cutoffs.

7. Typeface name: Helvetica

7-helvetica-fix

Year created: 1957
Foundry/Designer: Max Miedinger
Country: Switzerland
Style: Neo-grotesque sans-serif
Comments: Many people don’t know that Univers was famous before Helvetica and inspired designer Max Miedinger to form a type family. Both fonts were of somewhat similar fame until the 70s and 80s, when Helvetica was licensed to Xerox, Adobe and Apple, to be one of the core fonts of the PostScript detection language.

Since then, Helvetica has gained international fame, as shown in the expansive usage above! That’s because the typeface is simple and utilitarian, with quirky touches—like the rounded square tail of the “R”, the narrow “t” and “f”, and the bracketed top flag of the “1”.

8. Typeface name: ITC Lubalin Graph

Year created: 1974
Foundry/Designer: ITC/Herb Lubalin, Antonio DiSpigna, Joe Sundwall, Edward Benguiat
Country: United States
Style: Neo-grotesque slab-serif
Comments: A quiet standout from the past is ITC Lubalin Graph. This font is full of life, as seen in the steeply angled elbow on the lowercase “e”, the asymmetrical upper serif of the capital “A”, and the unforgettable sweeping tail of the uppercase “Q”.

This typeface was made in several different weights, and it’s said that the IBM logo by Paul Rand was an elaboration on one of the heavier weights.

9. Typeface name: Frutiger

Year created: 1975
Foundry/Designer:  Adrian Frutiger
Country: Switzerland
Style: Humanist, sans-serif
Comments: Remember Adrian Frutiger, the designer of the typeface Univers? Here’s another big one from him. Frutiger designed this typeface to be practical and useful for any purpose. The typeface is crafted for legibility at small sizes or at a distance. It’s no surprise that this font has been used on Swiss passports since 1985.

10. Typeface name: ITC Bauhaus

Year created: 1975
Foundry/Designer:  ITC/Ed Benguiat and Victor Caruso
Country: Switzerland
Style: sans-serif
Comments: Bauhaus, and its many iterations, are reinterpretations of the forgotten 1925 font Universal. The typeface ITC Bauhaus takes inspiration from Universal and builds on it with the inclusion of upper and lowercase characters, and an overall refinement. The strokes are all the same weight and evenly geometric, yet somehow wacky in their swooping curves and slivers of negative space. The font has a retro feel and is perfect for logo designs looking to capture an old-school feel.

1990 – 2000 logo fonts

In the 1990s, computers were introduced into typographic design, which opened up new possibilities. Type designers were experimenting with advanced geometry, Photoshop effects and computer-calculated proportions. It was a time of learning, experimentation and excitement. Many of the fonts from this era broke new ground, creating a fresh set of styles that translated to new possibilities for logo design!

11. Typeface name: FF Meta

Year created: 1991
Foundry/Designer: Erik Spiekermann
Country: Germany
Style: Humanist, sans-serif
Comments: According to font designer Spiekermann, FF Meta was intended to be the antithesis of Helvetica. Where Helvetica is more rigid, FF Meta is curved and fluid. The dot on the “i” is circular, the bends are unusual and a visual rhythm comes through when scanning your eyes across text set in this font.

Ironically, because of its popularity, FF Meta was considered to be the Helvetica of the 90s! It is used in the Herman Miller logo and The Weather Channel logo.

12. Typeface name: FF Blur

Year created: 1992
Foundry/Designer:  Neville Brody
Country: England
Style: Experimental, sans-serif
Comments: In the 1990s there were two main transformations in typography. One was a decreased interest in legibility, and the other was the introduction of computers. FF Blur embodies both of these trends.

Neville Brody created this font by processing an iteration of Akzidenz-Grotesk through the Photoshop blur filter three times to create the three corresponding weights. The result is not particularly readable, but it does have an exciting look that was especially groundbreaking to those working in the early 90s.

13. Typeface name: Horizon

Year created: 1992
Foundry/Designer: Bitstream
Country: United States
Style: Experimental/geometric, sans-serif
Comments: Horizon takes inspiration from the typography used in the original Start Trek series. Quite fittingly, this font was used 21 years later in the film Star Trek: Into Darkness. In keeping with the digital experimentation of the 90s, Horizon has a space-age look—with sharp, unexpected angles that were achieved sharply with digital tools. This is a great font to keep in mind for futuristic design projects.

14. Typeface name: Big Caslon

Year created: 1994
Foundry/Designer: Matthew Carter
Country: United States
Style: Old-style, serif
Comments: Big Caslon is a revival from a group of serif typefaces from the 1600s by William Caslon I. This typeface is a great example of classic typeface styles entering the realm of digital typography. Most of the serifs feel sharp and pointy, while some, such as on the uppercase “G” and “S” are slightly geometric. Overall, Big Caslon feels bold and strong—perfect for making a big point.

15. Typeface name: Sackers Gothic

Year created: 1994
Foundry/Designer:  Monotype
Country: United States
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: Sackers Gothic is one of those fonts that feels so human you have to love it. The curves in the “S” are perfectly imperfect, the proportions of the “E”, R” and “C” produce a visceral impact and the typeface as a whole feels warm and beautiful. Sackers Gothic would do well for wine bottle design, vintage signage, or farm to table restaurants.

16. Typeface name: FF Din

Year created: 1995
Foundry/Designer:  FontFont/Albert-Jan Pool
Country: Germany
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: FF Din was created for the foundry FontFont by Erik Spiekermann (also the creator of FF Meta) and ended up becoming their best-selling typeface. It modernized san-serif design by extending circular elements into geometric ovals, cutting off letterforms in unexpected (but pleasing) ways and creating nuanced curves through advanced geometry.

17. Typeface name: Sassoon

17-sassoon

Year created: 1995
Foundry/Designer:  Rosemary Sassoon
Country: United Kingdom
Style: Sans-serif
Comments : Sassoon was designed by one of the few renowned female type designers in recent history, Rosemary Sassoon. This typeface is whimsical and friendly as a result of the swoops and curls in each letterform. It is also highly utilitarian because of its simplicity. The example above shows how Sassoon adds to the environment when used in signs throughout a children’s’ museum.

18. Typeface name: Baltica

18-baltica

Year created: 1998
Foundry/Designer: Paratype/Vera Chiminova, Isay Slutsker
Country: Russia
Style: Slab serif
Comments: While Baltica fits the criteria for a slab serif, it looks very similar to a simple sans-serif. The slabs are bracketed and of different width from the letterforms, which is unusual for a slab-serif. These qualities are ultimately what set Baltica apart, giving it a signature look that helps define a brand like Winston.

19. Typeface name: FF Avance

19-avance

Year created: 2000
Foundry/Designer: Evert Bloemsma
Country: Germany
Style: Serif
Comments: FF Avance is special typeface that pushes the envelope on asymmetrical serifs. The lower serifs of the capital “A” point to the right, while the upper serifs on the lowercase “v” point to the left. The effect is a font that has motion and energy, which is great for sports, cars or other action-related industries.

20. Typeface name: Modesto

20-modesto

Year created: 2000
Foundry/Designer: Jim Parkinson
Country: United States
Style: Serif
Comments: Modesto has a very interesting history from 19th and 20th century circuses and hand-painted typography. This digital iteration takes those analog forms and perfects them into a usable type family containing 23 fonts.

This typeface is great for projects inspired by vintage circus style, classic wooden crate branding or cigar box designs.

2000 – 2010 logo fonts

In the 2000s, typography returned to a grounded approach. Typographers were building on designs from previous decades and refining them. The following examples show how fonts of this era merged the humanist styles dating back to the 1600s with the crisp precision of the computer age. Designers were figuring out how to use the best of both worlds in typeface (and, of course, logo) design!

21. Typeface name: Neo Sans

Year created: 2004
Foundry/Designer: Monotype/Sebastion Lester
Country: England
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: Neo Sans has become somewhat of a touchstone for sans-serif typefaces with curved corners. It was one of the first typefaces to use the technique in such a subtle and sophisticated way. It decreases the intensity of the font and creates a friendlier energy. This font was famously used by Intel, as seen in the example above, on the right.

22. Typeface name: Proxima Nova

Year created: 2005
Foundry/Designer: Mark Simonson
Country: United States
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: According to the designer, Proxima Nova is a font that bridges the gap between fonts like Futura and Akzidenz-Grotesk. Based on broad spectrum of typography styles, a bridge between those extremes was welcome.

Proxima Nova is a typeface that balances classic geometry and modern proportions. It is used by major companies like Spotify and Twitter music.

23. Typeface name: Foco

Year created: 2006
Foundry/Designer: Veronika Burian, Fabio Haag
Country: United Kingdom
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: Everything comes full circle. Foco is unique because reintroduces the legibility that was lost in 1990s digital experimentation. This typeface experiments with the balance between soft corners with “quick” radii and “slow” corners with wide radii. In that respect, it displays creativity and personality.

At the same time, the character spacing and weights were carefully planned to boost readability and multi-functional use. This font reads well as the main face of a logo, a subtitle or tagline.

24. Typeface name: Tondo

Year created: 2007
Foundry/Designer: Veronika Burian
Country: Germany/Austria
Style: Rounded, sans-serif
Comments: Veronika Burian (also one of the collaborators on the font Foco) is truly worth highlighting for her work on Tondo, one of the early fonts to take rounded corners to an extreme. The result is cute, fresh and healthy, which may be why it became part of the branding for the London marathon. This is truly a font with a bubbly personality!

25. Typeface name: Museo Sans

Year created: 2008
Foundry/Designer: Jos Buivenga
Country: Netherlands
Style: Geometric, sans-serif
Comments: Museo Sans is a more user-friendly version of Museo, a bizarre serif font. In contrast, Museo Sans is simplified and minimal, giving the letterforms room to breath.

The letter “Q” gives a wonderful surprise—it breaks down the barrier between letterforms and abstract shapes by rendering the letter as a simple circle with a line through it. A true delight for us typographic nerds!

26. Typeface name: Uni Sans

Year created: 2008
Foundry/Designer: Fontfabric/Svet Simov, Ani Petrova, Vasil Stanev
Country: Bulgaria
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: The defining characteristic of Uni Sans is the way certain letterforms, such as the “N” and “M,” have extended wedges cut out of the joints. It’s unusual and opens the door for designers to play creatively with this unusual element.

Since this font pairs well with bold colors, it would do well with industries that honor strength, like fitness brands or advertising agencies. Best of all, Fontfabric has released four weights for free, so you can play with which suits your needs best.

27. Typeface name: Neue Swift

28-neue-swift

Year created: 2009
Foundry/Designer: Linotype/Gerarad Unger
Country: Netherlands
Style: Serif
Comments: Neue Swift was designed to generate a horizontal flow, helping words and lines look separated and to read. This makes Neue Swift a great choice for wordy logos! The typeface also has distinct sloping serifs and “busy” angles. This font would make a great choice for design projects in financial, health or non-profit industries.

28. Typeface name: Brandon Grotesque

Year created: 2010
Foundry/Designer: HVD Fonts/Hannes von Döhren
Country: Germany
Style: Geometric, sans-serif
Comments: Brandon Grotesque stands apart from other sans-serifs with its low x-height, a characteristic that gives the typeface a certain compactness and warmth. Some of you may recognize it from the Comedy Central branding. It is also used regularly in packaging and label design for its style and functionality.

29. Typeface name: Bodoni Egyptian Pro

Year created: 2010
Foundry/Designer: Shinn Type/Nick Shinn
Country: Canada
Style: Serif
Comments: Bodoni Egyptian Pro is a typeface which aims to subvert typographic norms. It accomplishes this by taking Bodoni and reducing it to a single stroke weight design. There are eight weights, all of which are exciting—especially the lightest weight, which seems to be composed of single pixel lines.

As seen in the examples above, Bodoni Egyptian Pro can be classical and robust, or electronic and modern. That’s the beauty of such a versatile font!

Present day logo fonts

We have arrived in the present! This is the exciting section where we travel around the world to see what innovative typographers are creating now. As you browse this section, note how classic elements are revisited and the techniques used to create a fresh look and feel in each font. This has influenced modern logo design greatly.

30. Typeface name: Revista

31-revista

Year created: 2015
Foundry/Designer: Latinotype/Paula Nazal Selaive, Marcelo Quiroz, Daniel Hernández
Country: Chile
Style: Stencil, serif
Comments: No font list would be complete without a stencil typeface, and Revista is an exceptional example. It brings the elegance of a classic serif face and merges it with the utility of a stencil font. The broken letter forms lend a down to earth, DIY vibe and makes a fashion-oriented font accessible to everyone.

31. Typeface name: Bambusa Pro

32-bambusa-pro

Year created: 2015
Foundry/Designer: Fontforecast/Hanneke Classen
Country: Netherlands
Style: Cursive
Comments: Cursive typefaces have eluded digital capability for decades. That’s because the letters are unpredictable in handwritten cursive letterforms—no one knows where one character will end and another will begin.

With the evolution of font files and new methods for making sure each letter connects properly, cursive fonts are finally surfacing. Bambusa Pro is a great example that feels natural and beautiful.

32. Typeface name: Amsi Pro

33-amsi-pro

Year created: 2015
Foundry/Designer: Stawix/Stawix Ruecha
Country: Thailand
Style: San serif
Comments: Amsi brings the classic 1900s Block Berthold typeface into the present by utilizing the subtle corner rounding of typefaces like Neo Sans, and adding three separate weights ranging from very thin to very thick.

In drawing on so many fonts that came before and combining techniques in a new way, this typeface has created a novel “comic book” style.

33. Typeface name: Canilari

34-canilari

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: Latinotype/Patricio Truenos
Country: Chili
Style: Post-modern, serif
Comments: Canilari could be considered somewhat of an outcast typeface. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly it fits into the context of typographic history, and that’s great for inspiring creativity.

Sometimes a strange typeface is what a logo designer needs to take a brand out of the box. This font’s thick and crude cuts could work well for a modern butcher shop or for adding a homemade touch to a packaged good.

34. Typeface name: Posterama

35-posterama

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: Monotype/Jim Ford
Country: United States
Style: Post-modern, serif
Comments: The Posterama font family contains 63 fonts that take “a journey through space and type!” This family touches on Art Nouveau, the Armory Show, the 1913 Exhibition of Modern Art, the year of Metropolis, the Art Deco period and more.

It’s well worth checking out the full font family and as seen from the example above, each face has unique character.

35. Typeface name: Grenale Slab

36-grenale-slab

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: insigne/Jeremy Dooley
Country: United States
Style: Slab serif
Comments: While you won’t read this anywhere else, Grenale Slab has a lot in common with Sassoon. The whimsical curls and bouncy rhythms are given a bold style that works well in display and fonts. Think about companies that work with health, gardening, storytelling and anything playful and robust.

36. Typeface name: Docu

37-docu

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: Wiescher design/Gert Wiescher
Country: Germany
Style: Sans-serif
Comments: As explained in the type example above, Docu is a thin typeface. For that reason, from a logo designer perspective, this font would make a good choice for businesses with long names, as a way of combatting overly wide logo designs.

Defining characteristics include the inward curves of the “C”, the odd curvature of the “S” and turned-in tail of the “y”. The typeface also has an inherent office or legal feel, so don’t be afraid to use it in those applications.

37. Typeface name: Rufina

38-rufina-stencil

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: TipoType/Martin Sommaruga
Country: Uruguay
Style: Stencil-Serif
Comments: Like Revista (mentioned earlier), Rufina applies classic typography standards to stencil design. Where Rufina departs, however, is in the placement of the character breaks. Rather than looking like a stencil, it almost looks more like an artistic puzzle, with contrast and perceived texture. This technique allows Rufina to go in stylistic directions that other stencil fonts can’t.

38. Typeface name: Rational TW

39-rational-tw

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: Rene Bieder
Country: Germany
Style: Monospace, sans-serif
Comments: The “TW” in Rational TW stands for typewriter, meaning that this is the typewriter addition to the Rational type family. According to the designer, Rational TW combines Swiss and American gothic elements with a modern aesthetic.

This is a monospaced font, which makes it extremely legible and versatile. Extra attention was given to modifying each character to appropriately occupy equal space. This can be seen in the fun curls of the “t”, “i” and “l”.

39. Typeface name: Steak

40-steak

Year created: 2016
Foundry/Designer: Alejandro Paul
Country: Argentina
Style: Cursive
Comments: Here, we end the list with a style that is very relevant in today’s market. Steak is a quirky cursive font that speaks to the handmade artisan aesthetic. Next time a young flower shop owner, artisanal ice cream maker or silkscreen shop needs a logo, try out Steak.

Interested in some free fonts too? Check out these articles.

Conclusion

We hope this post gives you a much better grasp on the history of typography and the various styles available. Understanding these 39 key logo fonts should allow you to make better decisions moving forward. If you are struggling to pick a typeface, reference this article to think about both historical context and aesthetic relevance. With a keen eye, you can find the perfect typographic match for the project at hand!

What are your favorite fonts? Comment below!

 

The author

workerbee
workerbee

workerbee is a self taught designer from the east coast with a relentless curiosity in all realms of life. 99designs profile: workerbee.

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