Over the last century, most well-known designs for fonts associated with branding and design tended toward certain popular fonts, otherwise known as Iconic fonts.
These typefaces are some of the most often used in popular culture and brand design. They’ve stood the test of time and are always a reliable choice to enhance a project.
These popular and iconic fonts are perfect for both newbies and seasoned designers who prefer logos and branding to be minimalistic, yet bold. These typefaces are great for legibility and can help designers convey a general sense of sophistication.
Top 11+ Most Iconic Fonts for Professional Design
What are the most iconic fonts? Check out our list below to see some of the most popular fonts of all time:
- Helvetica — The most iconic font overall
- Bodoni — The most iconic serif font
- Baskerville — The most popular font for publication layouts
- Times New Roman — The most iconic font for anything official
- Futura — The best iconic casual font
- Garamond — An old-style serif font for books and newspapers
- Sabon — A classy serif typeface for business requirements
- Rockwell — The most popular slab serif font
- Franklin Gothic — An iconic font for newspapers and advertisements
- Gill Sans — The British equivalent to Helvetica
- JUST Sans® — A friendly sans serif with bite.
What is an Iconic font?
An Iconic font has seen such regular use in branding and design over the years that you can spot it when you see it in branding, cultural works, and any other visuals that you come across in daily life.
Often, these Iconic fonts are serif fonts and this is most likely because of their popular use in pop culture and media over the last century.
Delving deeper, most type houses in the late 19th century and the early 20th century made iterations of popular English typefaces. They used these in books, newspapers, and magazines, becoming the norm and setting the standard for sophistication and class.
Later on, type houses developed more experimental and fun fonts. However, most of these iconic fonts (again, largely serif) tended toward the most popularly used to establish credibility and class.
Why use Iconic Fonts?
Because these popular fonts have stood the test of time when you want a no-nonsense choice, an impressive logo or brand design with an Iconic font is a great way to go. These famous & iconic fonts are perfect for establishing brand credibility from the get-go, as people associate them with other credible brands subconsciously.
And not to mention, Iconic fonts just look great! This may seem subjective, like a personal bias, but just as you’ll find the Billboard Top 100 loaded with iconic songs, Iconic fonts are always impressive. As they are generally minimalistic, these fonts work well with most designs, perfect for clean-cut branding.
Download all the Popular Fonts you need and many other design elements, available for a monthly subscription by subscribing to Envato Elements. The subscription costs $16.50 per month and gives you unlimited access to a massive and growing library of over 50 million items that can be downloaded as often as you need (stock effect & element packs too)!
11+ Most Popular Fonts for Graphic Design
An iconic font is a popular font. Here we list the ten most popular fonts of all time. Enjoy!
1. Helvetica — The most iconic font overall
Helvetica, possibly the most often-used font in branding, is legible but not overly stiff. What makes Helvetica a great font to opt for is the fact that it lays a good foundation for a brand’s logo, without an overbearing personality. Helvetica is good to look at and can be a canvas for you to create a brand around.
Created by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman in the 1960’s, Helvetica is a typeface that we see time and time again in logos. Some famous brands that make use of Helvetica include Harley Davidson, Panasonic, Kawasaki, BMW, and Motorola, among many others.
Regardless of what your personal inclination is, for a font that’s used by many successful companies, Helvetica makes for a perfect minimalist anchor to a unique font design.
2. Bodoni — The best iconic serif font overall
Designed originally by Giambattista Bodoni in the eighteenth century, Bodoni is one of the most recognizable fonts in the design world. Heavily influenced by John Baskerville’s school of thought, this iconic typeface makes use of contrasting widths, not uncommon now with most serif fonts.
This modern typeface has seen several iterations from many type houses but holds up quite well. Some major names that make use of this font include Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Vogue.
Bodoni is a timeless classic (see more timeless fonts here) and is perfect for most sophisticated branding requirements, be it a magazine, book cover, fashion event, or even packaging. And given its popularity, we’ve picked Bodoni as the best iconic serif font overall for this list.
3. Baskerville — The popular font for publication layouts
Baskerville is yet another age-old classic, created by John Baskerville in the 17th century and used in Cambridge University’s publications at the time. And it is still a great go-to choice. This old-style typeface was one of the first to pioneer the concept of contrasting thick and thin strokes in print media.
Although not very popular during Baskerville’s lifetime, this typeface gained traction through French publishers and later on, when publication houses made their own iterations of this typeface. Baskerville is now most popularly used in publications, signs, business cards, and book covers.
This iconic font can be perfect for a large variety of publication and display-related designs that require an overall crisp look.
4. Times New Roman — The most popular font for anything official
Popularized by its use in mainstream media and later on Mac and Windows Times New Roman or Times, is one of the best iconic fonts to be made. Whether you recognize it from the newspaper or associate it with college term paper PTSD, Times New Roman is recognizable almost instantly.
Perfect for any official communication, business cards, or anything that requires a minimalistic, yet serious look, Times New Roman is a great serif typeface for you to choose. Although there are quite a few alternatives like Georgia or Merriweather, Times New Roman remains an all-time favorite and is one of the most iconic typefaces to date.
This iconic font can work well in brochures, magazines, or book layouts, along with several other publishing and design projects that might come your way.
5. Futura — The best iconic casual font
Futura is a great sans serif typeface that has grown in popularity over the last few decades. Created by Paul Renner in 1927 by Bauer Type Foundry, this iconic font captures the spirit of modernity. This popular typeface makes use of geometric shapes with near-perfect circles, making it minimalistic and appealing for design.
Unlike many of the serif fonts on this list, Futura has a more casual and lighthearted look, making it perfect for a light, more fun design. This font is very popular for album artwork, video game covers, movie titles, and even the Disney Junior logo.
Futura also inspired other iconic fonts like Century Gothic and Brandon Grotesque, since used in major designs and creations. Futura is one of the best iconic casual fonts out there and is a great one to add to your list.
6. Garamond — An old-style serif font for books and newspapers
Garamond is yet another go-to font for publications. Originally created by the Parisian engraver, Claude Garamond, this old-style serif font has been around since the 16th century and is still popular today. Much like several old-style serif fonts popularized in the 20th digital adaptation, you’ll find this one in many books, newspapers, and advertisements.
Mostly acclaimed for its readability and class, Garamond is a great choice of font for any publication layout or design. With its lack of overwhelming flair, this font is surprisingly unrestricted, provided that it’s used with the right design.
7. Sabon — A classy serif typeface for business requirements
A font created by German typographer Jan Tschichold in the 1960s, Sabon is an old-style typeface that’s perfect for headlines and print media. Heavily inspired by the work of Claude Garamond, the original creator of the Garamond font, this serif typeface works well for any business project or any project requiring a serious note.
Perfect for magazines, quotes, poetry, and books, Sabon’s thin lines and stark edges carry weight but don’t seem overly stiff. And worth mentioning, a modified version of Sabon is used by Vogue and Esquire for headlines. This iconic font is also used in the official logo for Stanford University (until 2012) and by Örebro University.
8. Rockwell — The most popular slab serif font
Rockwell is the most iconic slab serif typeface out there. Although the name may be unknown, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this font in one place or another. Designed by Monotype Corporation in 1934, this geometric slab serif font stems from an earlier font called Litho Antique.
Based on how you choose to use it, Rockwell can work well with album jackets, product packaging, and any other brand requirement that you might have to take on.
Used by several popular brands like Malibu Rum, Hollywood Records, and even Marshall Amplifiers, this popular typeface is one of the best iconic fonts out there when it comes to slab serif typefaces.
9. Franklin Gothic — An Iconic font for newspapers and advertisements
Created by the American Type Founders in the 19th century, this bold sans serif font has great readability and is not unnecessarily rigid or complex. Mostly used in advertisements and newspapers, this typeface is a popular choice still for books and other publications.
Used in popular media, you’ll see Franklin Gothic in Time Magazine, The New York Times for several of their headlines, Showtime, Bank of America logos, and even on the Scrabble board game.
This iconic typeface is one of the best to work with and works well for relevant designs and publication drafts.
10. Gill Sans — The British equivalent to Helvetica
Designed and created at the British branch of Monotype by Eric Gill in 1926 and deemed the “British Helvetica” for its frequent use in British notices and posters, Gill Sans is one of the most popular fonts in the UK.
Commonly used in media, including the BBC logo, the British railway, and even the TV network, Carlton, this simple sans serif font can be just what you need for your design. It works well for poster design, logos, website banners, or even product packaging.
JUST Sans is a clean and minimalistic font designed to be simple yet professional, with variable versions for maximum versatility. JUST Sans is a workhorse with complete Latin extended language support.
Just Sans is a professional typeface with endearing, modernist warmth, geometric legibility, and a distinctive friendly bite. It gives both a serious and friendly feel when used in your designs. This font is neutral yet modern, technical but not overbearing, and familiar but unique to stand out from the crowd.
With its universal functionality and characteristic bite, the JUST Sans family becomes an ideal addition to your type arsenal. This elegant contemporary with open, airy characters and a generous width with sharply angled terminals is an ideal choice for projects such as web, branding, UI, signage, packaging, posters, architecture, fashion, design and more.
You can download JUST Sans at Envato Elements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best iconic font for design?
What is a font that’s popular for branding and logo design?
Helvetica is easily the most popularly used font for designs and logos. Used in Harley Davidson, Panasonic, Kawasaki, BMW, and Motorola, this font is one of the most iconic.
What is the font used in the Vogue logo?
Bodoni is the font used in the Vogue logo. Designed originally by Giambattista Bodoni in the eighteenth century, Bodoni is a very popular font for branding and design.
What is the most iconic font for official communication?
11+ Best Most Popular Fonts for Design
You should now have a fair idea of which fonts are the most popular in branding and graphic design.
Regardless of what designs you choose to work on, or the type of designer you aspire to be, having sound knowledge of typography and the iconic fonts used repeatedly throughout the years can prime you to make relevant and sound design choices. With everything covered here, you’re a lot more prepared for your design journey.
When it comes to the best iconic fonts for designs, working with some of the industry’s most familiar fonts can help new brands establish trust and audience more easily.
While there tends to be a good level of relevance to the brand, working with iconic fonts is a great way to go.
Also, check out our blog on the best 50s fonts.
Do you agree with the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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