Amazon launched in 1995 in Washington, United States. What started out as Jeff Bezos’ online store for books expanded over the years into an e-commerce company that is now the biggest online company in the world. Today, if you’re looking for something, there’s a high chance that Amazon’s selling it.
As Amazon evolved over the years, however, its fonts had changed to fit the times. Amazon’s fonts have seen different phases, and as the brand changed to avoid looking outdated, so did the fonts Amazon used to ensure uniformity and aesthetic throughout the years.
The Amazon logo has undergone several changes since 1994. The first logo, an “A” with a river inside (referring to the Amazon River, most likely) was created by the logo design company Turner Duckworth.
Amazon used this logo until it was replaced by two more logos in 1998. Take note that Jeff Bezos was a very hands-on CEO who had his hand in everything from the Amazon slogans, to the hiring process, down to approving all the elements of the logos. These logos would eventually be replaced by a second prototype, the yellow line which curves upwards .
The final logo used between 1998 to 2000 uses two fonts: Officina Sans Bold for “Amazon” and Officina Sans Book for “.com.” These are fonts available to the public and, if not already available in your writing or designing program, can be downloaded online.
In 2000, Turner Duckworth simplified Amazon’s logo and gave it a playful retouch. Instead of the whole yellow line underlining the entire “Amazon”, the line curved upwards to do two things: create a subtle smile on the logo, and create an arrow from the “a” pointing towards the “z.” This is a subtle nod to their motto that they sell everything “from A to Z.” Despite the dropped “.com” and the different line, the Officina Sans Bold font remained.
Amazon.com’s website uses Amazon Ember Regular and Italic for all the written text on the website. However, depending on the fonts installed and available, the fonts may revert to Arial or Times New Roman.
Amazon Products & Subsidiaries
Outside of the Amazon website, Amazon’s other subsidiaries, products, and services may use different fonts. For example, the Amazon Kindle uses Booklerly, a custom font style designed by Dalton Maag. However, later editions of the Kindle like the Kindle 8th Generation use Amazon Ember (the same font used for their website).
Some of Amazon’s subsidiaries, on the other hand, may have their own font and have not been changed to match Amazon’s own style to retain brand recognition. For example, Amazon acquired the live streaming platform Twitch in 2014, but Twitch’s font – created by DeviantArt user MaxiGamer – remains. Amazon also acquired Whole Foods Market (an American organic supermarket) but did not change the logo font created by font designer Alan Bright. You also have Goodreads, which uses Numbus Sans Novus Regular and Bold.
Typography and Branding: Why It Matters
Given that Amazon is a multi-billion dollar company, one may assume that they’d have more pressing matters than the fonts used. However, the font a business use helps to retain its brand identity.
When a company starts out, they need to create a brand identity. Part of that process is developing a logo that shows a certain personality type that can resonate with consumers and help them remember the brand.
Creating Trust for a Brand
But outside the logo and uniformity, legible fonts that do not distract are one of the crucial elements to consumers taking a website seriously. A 2004 study on online health sites proved that font styles were one of the elements of web design that swayed people’s opinions on a website’s credibility,
In this study, 15 women with certain health issues were observed for a month while searching the internet for information on health websites. The researchers found that no matter how reliable and accurate the content was, if the web design does not look good, they will be unlikely to trust this website in favor of more visually pleasing websites. Around 94 percent of the participants said that their trust depended on the web design elements, one of which included smaller or harder to read font styles.
With that being said, you can understand why a massive company like Amazon would take an element like font style seriously. While they may sell everything from A to Z, people will be hesitant to even spend money (let alone put their credit card details) on their website if it does not look have a professional and reliable brand.
Take a look at Amazon’s homepage. The font is uniform from the top categories to the footnote links at the bottom. It’s not using fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri that are too common and recognizable that stands out from average online stores. But at the same time, it creates a recognizable website with legible descriptions on every product. So, no matter which Amazon seller you’re buying from, you get the same reliable and dependable Amazon aesthetic.
Amazon uses several fonts for uniformity and brand identity not just for itself, but for its products and subsidiaries. Some may see it as a small detail for Amazon to consider. In terms of maintaining a uniform brand that consumers can remember and an aesthetically pleasing experience for their customers, though, font styles can be a huge factor in how they establish their identity.