The Huffington Post unveiled a bold redesign this week, the first in the publication’s 12-year history. Gone are the skeuomorphic newspaper format, the oddly formal serif logo, and the name itself, a legacy of founder Arianna Huffington, who stepped down from the publication in 2016. (Lydia Polgreen, a widely respected New York Times journalist, took her place.)
Now called HuffPost, the news site has a gleeful, urgent feel: A bold italic logo punctuated by URL slashes, a top story that takes up your whole screen, some all-cap headlines that don’t just announce the news, but shout it, and a minty accent color that refreshes the Huffington Post‘s trademark medical green. It’s a tabloid grown up and repackaged for the internet. And the message couldn’t be clearer: With Trump in the White House and the Fourth Estate under attack, now is not the time to be meek.
But what do designers think? We reached out to experts at several branding agencies to find out. Overall, they love it. Here’s why the redesign works–plus a couple reasons to be skeptical.
It Skews Young, Not Stupid.
I think [the redesign] opens a conversation that examines why it’s now okay for reputable news and information brands to channel a younger, more tongue-in-cheek identity that younger audiences will relate to. Does this mark a shift from left-leaning new media outlets from trying to channel something that feels professional and buttoned up (as most trade news outlets do), to something that feels more conversational, young, and vibrant?
With this shift, HuffPost are saying that they have a serious and reliable point of view–the design isn’t childish or sloppy, it is bold, solid–but it’s also showing an accessible and approachable front. They have a solid reputation at this point, and are trying to align what they believe in, and what they are known for, with the outward expression of their brand. They are also likely competing with sites like Buzzfeed or Vice.
It also may be relevant to think of the kinds of media and social platforms that people rely on now for work and personal life–Slack, Facebook, and Twitter–and if publishers need to shift more toward those identities to remain relevant.–Jessica Lehmann, Associate Director, Strategy, Brand Union
This is a strong and important update. The Huffington Post was an important news media outlet when it first started. Its offer was fresh and bold, but unfortunately, its identity was regrettably ho-hum and traditional—under-confident even. These days, HuffPost knows what it is, knows its success, and is going through an important transition. No better time to let that confidence and boldness drive a new identity.
It’s a tough road for any media outlet these days, but this move signals change for a very good reason that I bet will be broadly welcomed.HuffPost is evolving, and it is updating its identity to help signal that change. I’m a big believer in this kind of brand agility—be clear about who you are and know what you stand for, but don’t simply stand still. If this update only reinforces existing customer loyalty, it’s a success. But it could likely go further by getting the attention of so many consumers out there who are news media-disoriented these days and are looking for a new home.–Christopher Lehmann, Managing Director, Landor San Francisco
It Cleverly Embraces Its Digital Context.
This HuffPost rebrand is both convincing and timely. It allows the brand to live confidently in a dynamic and mobile-first context, essential for an online portal. The slash — the identity avatar — effortlessly becomes a content window, and the slash’s angle is reflected coherently in the holding shapes for the section headers, now infused with a vibrant color palette. –Forest Young, Head of Design, Wolff Olins West Coast
It Reappropriates The Language Of Tabloid Journalism.
It’s nice to see Huffington Post’s iconic journalism delivered by a brand as bold and as impossible to ignore as they are. The slanted sans serif typography and assertive geometry do seem to push the brand into tabloid territory but Huffington Post has the reach and history to redefine what those cues mean and take ownership of them. The way the logo connects to the sturdy hyperlink underlining and the way the symbol frames their animated content, it’s clear this brand was built from the ground up for digital. Between the name change and the new visual identity, HuffPost has the tools they need for this next chapter of the company.–Sam Becker, ECD, Brand Union
It Points To A New Future.
This design is about new leadership and the design system does an amazing job of provoking you to look and engage. The old design felt like a caricature of a newspaper. The redesign unapologetically puts itself out there with humor and provocation. It works.–John Paolini, Partner and Executive Creative Director, Sullivan
But Does It Convey Adequate Seriousness?
The HuffPo rebrand clearly indicates they are making a play toward populism. Their new visual language reads more tabloid/big media, less elite journalism. Take one look at the online versions of the NY Post vs the New York Times and the distinction becomes readily apparent. The new design works quite well in our mobile-first world, enabling the branding, framing and sharing of video and in its adapting to social media iconography. And yet, from a top line brand point of view, one might be inclined to wonder: “Will HuffPo readers trust the content and take it as seriously when presented in this new context?”–Geoff Cook, Partner, Base Design
Is It Bold Enough?
The new logo literally leans towards a tabloid vernacular that references the sensational nature of our media culture. It’s an identity with a visual language that rides a fine line, as seen in the mark, that sits somewhere between journalistic integrity and entertainment. It attempts to be bold and direct, but ends up being too polite and unmemorable.–Rafael Medina, Associate Creative Director, Siegel + Gale