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USA Today redesign


The Nation's conversation.

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Agency:  Wolff Olins

Designers: Lisa Smith, Alvin Arronson, Mike Abbink,

Jeanette Abbink, Mads Poulsen



The brief:


In the beginning the brief was just to ‘take a look at the logo’ and ‘update it’. Circulation was dropping and parent company Gannet hoped to keep the USA Today brand afloat to whilst they built the revenue of their online publications.


The key goals we were given were to maintain circulation and increase ad revenue.


The problem:


We found that USA Today had strong brand recognition but the reputation of the printed newspaper was buried under a perception of the ‘Newspaper for Dummies’, that was past its time. Many of the things that they were doing really well were going unnoticed because readers were embarrassed to be seen reading it.


We realised that the first that the first step would be a radical redesign of the identity. But also that the rest of the solution

had to be found in improvements to content strategy and production efficiencies.


The solution:


We persuaded the client to under-take a total front-to-back, inside-out redesign of the printed newspaper and brand architecture including a stylistic revolution of the logo into something topical, modern and dynamic and a high-profile national relaunch campaign.


We worked closely with the editorial, adverting and production teams to develop new strategies for presenting content and to change the templates to bring better design consistency but also greater efficiency to the daily newspaper layouts.


The results:


Format change and other design decisions increased the number of full-colour pages (which demand higher ad placement rates) while decreasing production costs. New ad formats created by the redesign lead to higher overall per-square-inch ad revenue.


The rebrand won many awards including a Cannes Lions Silver, a Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, an Art Directors Club Editorial Design Silver Cube and a Silver Obie Awards for the Grand Central Station Domination relaunch advertising campaign.


The deliverables:


Relaunch strategy, brand architecture, newspaper redesign,

bespoke typeface, info-graphics, relaunch ad campaign: TV, online and outdoor advertising including a subway take over of Central Station NYC.

The client’s comment:


Working with the ‘wolves’ of Wolff Olins, Kate [Project Lead] and Lisa [Design Director] was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve had in 40 years of working on and redesigning newspapers...

They showed great patience and great resolve in trying to bring fresh new thinking into a process that hasn’t changed in 30 years. They worked very hard to engage the staff in the process...

In the end, what we got exceeded everyone’s expectations and honored our tradition while bringing us into the 21st Century."

– Larry Kramer, President and Publisher, USA Today

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