USA TODAY was about to enter its 30th year and recognized a need to modernize and refresh its brand. At its inception in 1982, USA TODAY was a game-changing organization. Built on the vision of their founder Al Neuharth with the goal to be a 'forum for better understanding,' they pursued utility and ease through visual story telling, concise copy and a dedication to telling the news in a way that made it relevant to the lives of everyday Americans. 30 years on, this pioneering vision had been lost in a sea of imitators and parody-makers. The brand was looking dated and internally, the pressures of navigating the changing media landscape had led to a fractured brand and a lack of consistent vision for the future.
We started with the logo. We explored options from evolution to revolution. The chosen direction is the best representation of the pure, straight-to-the- point audaciousness that USA TODAY was built on. At the same time it's a platform for playfulness and a way to bring the editorial spirit front and center in the brand. It was a logo that could be as dynamic as the news.
It quickly became apparent that bringing this new visual identity to life would require a wholesale redesign of their flagship product, the newspaper. While USA TODAY has a highly successful suite of digital products, the printed product was still the most prominent footprint for the brand. In early 2012, we started work on a full redesign of the newspaper. We began by spending several days on the newsroom floor, shadowing the entire process--from the early morning news meeting to sending everything to press at 10pm. Flagship features such as The Weather Page and State-by-State were re-imagined. And new content ideas were developed, such as a Fantasy Football page to run weekly during NFL season and the USA Markets page which replaces 2.5 pages of stock tables with one page of easy-to-use visualizations of how every day Americans are investing.
USA TODAY asked us to develop ideas for a national ad campaign covering TV, print, digital and out-of-home for the 30th Anniversary relaunch and beyond. The concept centered on visual storytelling and putting people at the center of the news - literally - by creating human infographics.
The newspaper and logo redesign were unveiled with a national ad campaign that kicked off with a Grand Central subway station take-over in NYC. This makeover quickly became one of the largest media business stories of 2012, resulting in total media impressions exceeding 325 million. In the month after launch, the number of unique visitors to USA TODAY's mobile sites increased by 79 percent and the brand's digital revenue increased by over 69 percent. And in 2013, Gannett, the media holding company that owns USA TODAY, reported its first quarter profit was up 53 percent.