(Est. 1976) “Mother Jones is a reader-supported nonprofit news organization. We do independent and investigative reporting on everything from politics and climate change to education and food (plus cat blogging). Some 9 million people come to this site each month. We also publish an award-winning, 200,000-circulation magazine, we just launched a new podcast, and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We are headquartered in San Francisco and have bureaus in Washington, DC, and New York City. We don’t answer to stockholders, a corporate parent company, or a deep-pocketed donor. Instead we’re accountable to, and funded by, you—our readers.”
These days when a magazine overhauls its look, the process normally works something like this: A new editor or creative director walks in, decides whatever came before was crap, hires an outside design firm or three, commissions a custom typeface or maybe 10, gets a team of web designers and app developers to translate that vision to the digital space, and lines up some celebrity buzz, and many, many months later, voilà! A redesign is born.
We did pretty much the opposite.
Images (opinion after)
The old logo and cover were perfectly fine but also completely forgettable, looking like a dozen other magazines. The new logo does not say "this is an investigative reporting publication" at all — not any more or less than the previous logo — but perhaps with 40 years of being in business and 9 million monthly online readers, the association between the name and the organization's mission is well embedded. I don't like to admit my own ignorance but I wasn't familiar with the magazine before doing this post and when I saw the new logo I thought it was one of those independent magazines that bloomed in the 2010s like Fantastic Man or some other niche magazine devoted to, like, cars without hubcaps. If it were for one of those magazines I could say that I love this graphically and contextually but since it's not one of those magazines but something remarkably serious and portraying a strong sense of gravitas I can only say that I love this graphically. It's ugly as shit but it's awesome in that 1970s-Phototypesetting-revival that is currently going on. The wordmark is bold and tight and I really like the interplay between the "r J" pair and the "es" looks like it's high-fiving. It looks like a customized version of Antique Olive Bold Condensed and I love me some Antique Olive anything. The new cover is okay; the vertical title feels like it's trying too hard to be radical but, hey, it's a magazine logo running vertically so I guess there is something radical about it. Overall, great logo… but not for this magazine.
Thanks to Lilli Keinaenen for the tip.