One year ago USA TODAY approached us about redesigning their logo. They were about to enter their 30th year and recognized a need to modernize and refresh their 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.
So we started with the logo. One must tread lightly when dealing with an American icon. We explored options from evolution to revolution. The winning option, while strictly speaking is an evolution, was still a bold move. It was unanimously selected as the best representation of the pure, straight-to-the- point audaciousness that USA TODAY was built on. At the same time, it is a platform for playfulness and a way to bring the editorial spirit front and center in the brand.
The simplicity of the masterbrand logo also allowed us to create a flexible, yet consistent, identity system and organize their brand architecture to accommodate their many business areas. All without fracturing or degrading the master USA TODAY brand.
It quickly became apparent that bringing this new brand 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 is 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 morning news meeting to sending to press at 10pm. We spent time with people from all departments: editors, page designers, graphics and illustration, production and advertising. We immersed ourselves in reader studies and qualitative research.
At the end of this first phase, we presented our guiding principles for the redesign. The redesign of the newspaper also created an opportunity to re- imagine the content. Together with the marketing and editorial teams we established a number of task forces to focus on every part of the paper.
Through a series of workshops Wolff Olins helped these task forces develop a new approach to content and how they present it. 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.
In April we were asked, along with Co:Collective, to develop ideas for the communications campaign around the relaunch and the paper's 30th anniversary in mid September. Our concept centered on visual storytelling and putting people at the center of the news - literally - by creating human infographics.
The resulting national ad campaign covering TV, print, digital and out-of-home runs from September 14th until mid August and kicks off with a Grand Central subway station take-over in NYC.