USA Today redesigns

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

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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  • Mark

    Really shows the difference between a logo in isolation and a logo appled.

    Alone it looks really unpractical but when applied it proves to be anything but.

    Great work.

  • VW

    I’m not sure it feels like a logo to me. When applied I feel like it could just feel to much like it’s part of the news stories. I think it could do with a different headline typeface to help differentiate. It kind of just blends into the background.

    It also feels like the circle is trying to stop the logo from feeling just being typed out.

    I do like the overall feel though.

  • Tom

    Really like, but agree there could ahve been a difference in headline font to punctuate the new identity.

    Still works great across all platforms

  • That’s great but it remind me the Euronews logo (Euronews is a news Tv Channel in Europe), a white circle above the type.

  • James

    I like the idea of the circle in application when it functions as a countdown clock. But really by itself it doesn’t say anything, this is minimalism too far gone. The colour does follow the brand but does not represent America, the circle is contemporary and cute but is too neutral to signify anything. A logo concept should always be there in it’s simplest form before application, even if it’s just a hint of what’s to come, it should say something!

  • “… 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).”

    I think you might be reading a bit too much into a blue circle there, Mr Burgoyne.

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of Japan’s flag, so I think its great that Wolff Olins have nicked it, turned it cyan and given it to America.

  • It’s interesting but I’ll offer a few critiques.

    The “brand” get’s lost to me sitting among the eye-popping circle on the left and the highly saturated preview boxes on the right-hand side and illustration below.

    Placing an image on the circle on the inside section headers also seems to dilute rather than enhance any “branding” and seems a bit disjointed. If I am a reader, I am wondering why there is a picture of a Jets football player Tim Tebow so far away from the story about the Tebow.

    Aesthetically, it feels a bit dated. The typography doesn’t feel optimized for a printed publication, in particular the Chronicle headlines. It looks like they are using a “deck” weight of Chronicle instead of a display weight. I love Futura like the next designer but it feels old in this context even though it appears to be a redrawn version.

    I would also love to see a bit more built in white space throughout the paper.

    I applaud WO and CoCollective for thinking outside the box but I do wish they had had a seasoned editorial designer on board to fine-tune the final product.

  • Stuart

    You can view the site at its beat location, looks like there going for the tablet market.