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AP shares insight, tips on unleashing new look

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

In 2009, the Associated Press began developing a masterbrand strategy. This included defining what differentiates the organization from others and uniting its brand under a specific look and feel. More than two years later, the organization has rolled out a revised logo and other visual elements, with a new AP.org website and new video, archive, and image sites to follow.

The 165-year-old news organization defined its staff as gutsy, resourceful and connected, and its values as integrity and independence, and hopes to bring these traits and values to life through its new visual identity system.

According to David Jalbert-Gagnier, principal of Objective Subject, the agency that worked with the AP to develop these changes, when his organization was hired in June 2011, the process was already very well thought out and concise, the AP just needed a way to express their ideas.

“That’s what we were approached to do,” he said. “The logo itself wasn’t originally part of the scope but as we went through the design process and conveyed our strategy, the aesthetics of logo became a hurdle to accomplishing our goals. In different contexts the logo wasn’t holding up, so we started pushing the limits and looking at tweaks.”

David Jalbert-Gagnier, principal at Objective Subject. Photo Courtesy of ObjectiveSubject.com

The overhaul included updates to these five pillars of visual branding: logo, colors, typography, visual elements and layout. After completion, Jalbert-Gagnier said the most difficult part for any brand is getting employees to embrace it.

“Usually people internally won’t believe in the value,” he said. “People may have resentment toward it, thinking that the money should have gone toward raises or the like, and it’s hard for them to see the value.”

He goes on to say there was a very interesting reaction at the AP, as staffers were “super jazzed.”

“People are sharing information on the project and are excited to use the updated products. If we use that as the barometer, I would say this project has been very successful,” he said.

With the AP demonstrating the value of visual branding, it brings up the topic of the importance of media organizations viewing themselves as brands, and Jalbert-Gagnier notes that the reality of the connected and visual world we live in cannot be ignored.

“I think successful media brands care about what they’re projecting to world,” he said. “Their content is very important but the way they frame it impacts the way the audience receives it. People are increasingly becoming aware of that, the correlation between what you say and how you say it.”

For other brands thinking of taking on a similar project, Jalbert-Gagnier says you cannot understatement the value of strategy. For the AP, it involved 800 interviews and was “very, very well-done.”

“It definitely got everyone thinking about what branding meant and how it was useful to them. In many ways, the AP is a B2B company. I think it shows how having strong branding is valuable for them, a B2B brand growing B2B business. That’s something hard for people to understand. They think B2B companies don’t need any kind of marketing when actually it’s a good idea.”

To read about AP Mobile’s redesign, as discussed with Michael Boord, global director of AP Mobile, look for CisionNavigator on March 29.

About Lisa Denten

Lisa Denten is the Social Media Manager of Cision U.S., where she leads social strategy, coordinates the blog editorial calendar and manages public relations campaigns. She regularly hosts Cision webinars, was chosen as a #FollowFriday guest on industry blog Spin Sucks, and has spoken on panels for Inbound Marketing Summit and Publicity Club of Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry before joining Cision in 2008. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @lisaml15.

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