Wolff Olins has brought some of the techniques more usually associated with the world of corporate branding to the newspaper with the redesign of USA Today
When USA Today launched in 1982 (first issue below) its use of colour, bit-size panels for supporting stories and infographics was unprecedented and highly influential. Now, of course, everyone’s at it.
The paper’s new look also breaks with tradition. Newspaper redesigns typically are the preserve of specialists such as the near ubiquitous Mario Garcia. Perhaps USA Today’s choice of Wolff Olins to work with them on the project is recognition of the fact that newspapers are trying now to think of themselves as multimedia ‘brands’ rather than predominantly ink on paper operations.
Certainly, Wolff Olins has brought the language of current branding practice to bear on the paper with the introduction of a flexible logo system.
The core logo uses a a bespoke cut of Futura (the typeface used in the paper’s original logo) and a blue circle (presumably to represent the fact that the paper, uniquely in the US, covers the whole country and, in its avowedly non-partisan stance, the whole community). Supplementary logos introduce separate colours for each section.
Things get more interesting when the logos are applied in print. The idea is that relevant images overlay the circles, changing each day.
The chosen colour for each section is also applied across panels, graphs and so on.
WO worked on the strategy with CoCollective.
In print, Gulliver, USA Today’s previous text face, gives way to Chronicle Grade 1 from Hoefler & Frere-Jones, which is also used in headlines alongside the Futura. The paper now just uses two grids, one of five columns for the bulk of the content, and one of eight for tables.
Although at the time of writing the paper’s website had not been updated with the new look, its rather good (and free) iPad app does make use of the new look.
And here’s the iPhone app:
The new look works particularly well in these apps leaving us to wonder whether they or the paper led in terms of design priorities. It would certainly make sense to attempt as ‘media neutral’ an approach as possible given the current trajectory of print. With that in mind, although it may not have the impact and influence of its launch design, USA Today’s new look appears to have left it well-placed for a future where news will be predominantly delivered via the screen.
More detail on the redesign here.
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