USA Today got a facelift for its 30th. Last week, the newspaper unveiled a bold logo and layout redesign in an effort to stand apart from its competitors and entice more advertising and sales.
I absolutely agree that it was high time to spruce up the old logo. The graphic, typesetting and alignment needed to be ushered into the 21st century with some thoughtful reimagining. This rebranding process began over a year ago—and here is what these pioneers of creativity came up with:
My first thoughts: It’s clean. It’s modern. It’s a circle.
But then, am I thinking about this too critically? Is it admirably daring to be so simple? Are praise and accolades in order here? Once a few nice thoughts are out of the way, (I do like the brighter blue, I do like the less clunky type treatment) I still keep finding myself frustrated by that circle. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s staring at me with a smug and self-satisfied circle-y-ness that I just find annoying.
Here it is in layout, which I am also not a fan of. Why do I feel like I’m looking at some kind of toddler toy designed to improve my cognitive learning skills rather than a newspaper?
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of this tale; the main logo is only the first assault. This logo is the master brand, but it also serves as the canvas or container, which will house imagery highlighting the main stories of the day. The imagery can be a clipped-out photo, or illustration, whatever works. Or doesn’t work:
The concept is that the logo will change every day for each main section to reflect the top story. That is either very ambitious, or very shortsighted. The mixture of all of these styles looks a bit generic and shoddy. If they want the logo to reflect a headline, I would rather see a style less schizophrenic. There could be hundreds of logos in their library—as long as each is clever and follows a similar style. There is a bright side. I did find some I like that maintain a consistent, clean look:
To be fair, when a daily story logo works, I can see it resonating with readers. I can imagine one person saying to another, “Did you see the logo for such and such story? That was interesting.” (Maybe that’s just because I’m a designer, but nonetheless. It’s plausible.) But more often than not, I see this effort falling short and becoming an unnecessary hassle for everyone involved: the graphics team in charge of creating each of these logos, and the reader’s eyes having to avoid the upper left corner of the page.
There are parts about the rebranding I think are great. The new icon system (below) is intuitive, fantastic and harmonious. But unfortunately, for me the logo (and all its crazy variations) misses the mark.
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