While I never really saw USA today as a newspaper, the fact is that they were the second biggest distributor of news in the United States. While it always had more of a news magazine flair, the commonly known identity set it apart from the thousands of other newspapers using traditional serif or blackletter type for their mastheads.
I'm not a fan of this old branding. It always felt dated to me, and even if it was the freshest logo on the block, I would not be able to get behind it for a number of reasons. The horribly inconsistent and cramped letter-spacing, the ugly unnecessary trademark symbol that acts as a period, and that globe icon that shows a lot more than the USA which contradicts the namesake... these are all things that make my head hurt. If any publication was in need of a makeover, it was USA Today, so when a big name like these guys announced they would be rebranding, I was certainly interested to see what a newspaper of the 21st Century might look like.
This is the best they could come up with? Using the latest design trend? As many of us have seen, having a dynamic logo that can take a number of forms is the new kid on the block. Everyone wants to be buddies with the new guy. The new guy is so clever and witty! This bland mark for the paper's update can take just about any form. See the detail below:
In my mind, this style of design is lazy design. Sure, it might take a lot of work to set up the styles and guidelines for this type of branding, but it requires no thought. No one is sitting down thinking "what is the one perfect mark we can create to make people buy into this brand". It is lazy because there is no design work - anything can be the USA Today logo. Who knows, maybe there is more to it than that. Im sure there is, and I am just looking ignorant, but regardless, I can at least say that I am not a fan. I do however, applaud the designers for at least having the sense to add some much needed spacing between those letters. They needed some room to breathe, and speaking of breathing, what a sigh of relief to see someone using Futura instead of Gotham on a redesign. Another applaud I can give these folks is for nice balance. All too often the weight is too heavy towards the icon or the wordmark, and the eye gets confused. Here, we've got a pretty concise, unified identity with elements that play nice with one another. But, I've got just enough time for one more complaint to finish things off here - why does USA Today, or any newspaper/magazine need anything more than a wordmark at all? Look at how great their new identity looks within the pages of the paper. Bold headlines, bold colors... why not get rid of that silly circle? Typography is a huge problem in many papers, and these folks nailed it.