Reviewed

USAToday Logo, Before and After

Founded in 1982, USA TODAY is the second largest newspaper (behind The Wall Street Journal and its 2.1 million copies) in the United States with 1.8 million copies circulating every weekday — reportedly “one in every seven Americans interacts with USA TODAY on a weekly basis.” — and is best known for its concise and visual approach to delivering news. Its online counterpart, USATODAY.com receives 6.6 million readers daily and mobile apps complete the picture for this “multi-platform news and information media company” owned by Gannett. Late last week, USA TODAY announced a complete redesign of all its platforms, including the ubiquitous print edition and its identity, both designed by Wolff Olins — all digital applications were done by Fantasy Interactive covering their strategy, user experience, design, and development. The beta version with the new look can be seen here.

USA TODAY’s logo was redesigned to be as dynamic as the news itself. The logo will be a live infographic that can change with the news. It is simple and straight to the point, providing the opportunity for the newsroom to highlight the stories that matter to the nation. This approach builds off of USA TODAY’s long-standing leadership position in visual story-telling. Representing the pulse of the nation, the logo will be used as a platform to express USA TODAY’s editorial spirit — fun, bold and impactful.
Press Release

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

“The decision to remake an iconic brand should not be taken lightly,” Gannett CMO Maryam Banikarim said at an employee presentation earlier today. “The re-imagination of the USA Today logo is a great signal to the marketplace. It’s a signal of all the changes that are happening here - of our new digital products, our new re-designed paper and a re-imagination of our content across all platforms.”
Wolff Olins blog post

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Logo animation.

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Let’s start with the logo, as there are plenty of things to see here. The old logo was instantly recognizable with its bold, uppercase name and overly simplistic rendering of a globe. It wasn’t pretty though. The type is all scrunched together in not a very pleasant manner and the globe icon is only discernible at large sizes, becoming a blobby blue dot when reduced… and isn’t that lucky?! The new logo is simply a blue dot, reproducing perfectly at any size and resolution. Of the many circle logos we’ve seen before — Planet Green, Euro News, Centraal Museum — this is the one that makes the most sense and arguably the best one locked up with type (more on the type below). I asked Wolff Olins about their take on the circle-ness of the logo.

The circle began as a pure abstraction of their original logo: break it out of the box, maintain the modernist sans serif type, get rid of the globe and the 1980s stripes. The result was bold, straight-to-the-point and a little bit audacious - exactly as a brand like USA TODAY should be.

But it was a logo that had a lot of jobs to do.

The masterbrand logo needed to be simple and flexible enough to stretch across and make sense of a very complex branded house architecture. The rigorous type system allows a really simple way of building in the core co-brands - News, Money, Sports, Life, Tech and Travel as well as the multiple properties and franchises such as USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll or High School Sports, while still protecting and serving the equity of the masterbrand.

It also needed to be something that could embody the editorial spirit of the brand. On the masthead the blue circle becomes a canvas for representing the news of the day. It can change on a daily basis to represent key stories or themes from the National consciousness. It is the Newsroom’s logo. A collaborative effort, editorialised and created everyday by the editors and graphics team. They should either be a clever twist (wink), a straight-to-the-point depiction, or a provocative and enticing graphic representing the related news story.

This is what sets it apart from other changeable or ‘container’ brand identities. It is not created by brand or marketing people. It is it is built with purpose and interpreted everyday by people whose job it is to build and interpret the news.
— Kate Nielsen (project lead) and Lisa Smith (design director)

We approached this particular rebrand very sensitively… Balancing delicately familiarity with modernity. We broke down every element. The point, dot, globe, ball whatever you want to call it was there already. We gave it a job editorially. It literally was about getting straight to the point, putting the reader in the center of the conversation, and capturing the pulse of the nation… Right now. Today.

On a minor note, dropping a circle into the grid-based world of newspapers and rectangle screens is disruptive. It didn’t hurt that the new identity, despite it’s need for decent white space, also takes up LESS real estate = more ad revenue elsewhere.
— Todd Simmons (executive creative director)

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Customized version of Futura, called Futura Today.

The blue dot is accompanied by handsome typesetting — amazingly well letter-spaced, given the challenging kerning pairs that were dealt — of a custom version of Futura, produced in collaboration with Bold Monday. The lock-up is simple and effective. More importantly it works great on the cover (below) where the day’s date occupies that lower third space in the same type size as the newspaper’s name. That’s also where each section’s name appears. The combination works very well, creating a heavily branded newspaper with great presence — especially helpful when you are exiting your hotel room in Anywhere, USA and a newspaper is at your doorstep, as this is hard to miss. More on Futura Today:

USA TODAY has used Futura in its logotype, folios and the newspaper navigation since the beginning. When we were exploring typeface options for the logotype and brand, it was clear that having a sans serif typeface in this sector globally are few and far between and whilst there were conversations about not wanting to look so 80’s anymore the Futura had equity for them.

However when we started using the Futura we were running into some logistical problems if we were to use it more places than just the logotype. Futura has extremely high ascenders and low descenders which made it difficult to set large amounts of body copy, also certain letters have legibility issues, for example the ‘j’. So in collaboration with Bold Monday we developed a bespoke typeface based on Futura, in both upper and lower cases, to use as an ownable corporate font and for selected use across products. We shortened the ascenders and descenders and improved the punctuation, we’ve kept the strong characteristics of Futura, and re-drawn the weaker ones that got in the way of legibility. In short, the new letter forms are more space efficient, more human, more legible and more USA TODAY. Futura Today, a brand new family of fonts drawn with one eye on Futura and the other on the future.
— Kate Nielsen (project lead) and Lisa Smith (design director)

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Section covers.

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Sample interior pages.

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Icon set.

The new editorial design looks great. It’s easy to navigate, it feels airy and contemporary, and it continues to deliver on the quick visual approach of the newspaper. I will leave the full editorial critique to more apt fellows like Jeremy Leslie. What I will add is how impressive the new website is. It’s perfectly designed, much more friendly than your nytimes.com or cnn.com and, at least on my computer, it works like a charm. The iPad app further simplifies the web experience and USA TODAY has literally created a unified multi-platform approach that makes sense.

Introduction to website redesign.

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

USAToday Logo and Newspaper

Campaign for launch.

Redesign launch video.

Overall, this is a fantastic redesign for a very complex project and it’s quite amazing that, on the client’s end, everything was delivered and presented at the same time, and done so clearly and with excitement. The launch campaign images above show a kind of confidence rarely seen in major redesigns, as if everyone is waiting for the mob to attack. Finally, I asked Wolff Olins about the relevance of the printed newspaper and its relevance and importance within USA TODAY’s platforms:

Despite the success of USA TODAY’s iPad app, the printed product is still by far and away the largest footprint for the brand and the largest revenue-earner for the business. Digital advertising is relatively cheap compared to print so even though digital advertising is growing and print advertising is declining, the incremental revenue is not yet there. So from a pure business sense, investing in the paper was imperative. But more than that, all the research we looked at told us that people still love newspapers.

News consumption is not about platform loyalty. People graze their news across multiple platforms throughout the day and in different situations. The desire for news content to serve varying combinations of immediacy, convenience, utility, learning and entertainment are driving choice of both source and platform. Printed newspapers will continue to be one of several platforms in the news consumption ecosystem. We were working to help place the USA TODAY brand across this whole ecosystem. Modernizing the printed product was an important part of this.
— Kate Nielsen (project lead) and Lisa Smith (design director)

In order to elicit the changes needed for the brand you cannot dismiss or ignore the poster child of the brand, despite the popularity of their digital platforms. If for no other reason than to (1) put in place new behaviors over old habits editorially in consideration of delivering the brand continuously and to (2) use the best vehicle they’ve had to signal that change.

The way I see it, the way USA TODAY has been used to serving up content… Short, concise, visual… is exactly the way our digital society demands it to be today.
— Todd Simmons (executive creative director)

Thanks to everyone for the tip.

filed under Culture and tagged with , , ,

Reviewed September 18, 201209.18.12 by Armin


↓ Poll

Voting Begins
Voting Ends

Note!

This entry was generated in the previous layout of the site. Images and styling will be slightly off.

Poll and results are shown at the end of the post in the main content area.

 

↓Comments

---