The first decade will soon be over when there are no new Saab cars, but this does not bother us enthusiasts to continue to have strong feelings for this car brand and to be reminded of some of the brand’s historical features. One of those features that has made Saab (at least in the last ten years of its existence) recognizable is its visual identity and advertising approach, and of course the choice of font (typeface) as one of the essential elements of visual brand communication.
Companies have always wanted to develop a strong corporate identity. So it’s no wonder that Saab Cars opted for a rather old but fantastic font – GIll Sans. You probably didn’t know, but this font dates back to 1928! Interesting is also the story of how this typeface originated.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s the London and North Eastern Railway applied their designs to everything associated with the company from locomotives to leaflets. This had a clear visible impacton advertising, especially posters. At that time, the London and North Eastern Railway was the leader in graphic design, making use of good artists for poster illustrations and developingits distinctive graphic style, ‘Gill sans‘, by Eric Gill.
Gill Sans is based on Edward Johnston’s 1916 “Underground Alphabet“, the corporate font of London Underground. As a young artist, Gill had assisted Johnston in its early development stages. Interestingly, since this font has existed for almost 100 years now, it is no wonder that over the course of its century of existence, it has been the choice of many organizations and companies – not only Saab had this choice. however Gill Sans is paired with the Saab reputation and great beauty-shots. One graphic expert has the right to say – Saab Cars makes me almost like Gill Sans. Saab makes Gill Sans sexy.
Gill Sans continues to be a popular choice, as it has been featured prominently by the Church of England, which adopted the typeface in 2000 when publishing its series of books known as Common Worship. Saab Automobile uses Gill Sans in all its marketing and advertising materials, and Gill Sans has also been the corporate typeface of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) since 1997, United Colours of Benetton (which commissioned a custom variant), Tommy Hilfiger, AT&T used it until 2006, The Wikimedia Foundation uses Gill Sans on its wordmark.
Not to confuse you, Additionally, Gill Sans are not actually the correct font for the logo. It’s actually Helvetica Neue Black Extended that has been tweekedned a bit – and if you are interested in using a new font, you must know that – always use the postscript font not the TT version.