Since it was founded in 2005, HuffPost has come a long way to become one of the most prominent digital-only news and opinion websites.
HuffPost has become one of the symbols of online journalism and even won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
For 12 years the looks of the portal and brand elements remained virtually unchanged.
And in 2017, they decided that their visual identity needs revamping in order to catch up with the ever-changing demands of the digital market.
This is when HuffPost’s logo, website and even the name itself got fully transformed.
The change was more than just a visual refurbishment of the brand. It was also a reaction to existing trends in journalism, as well as tendencies of the era we live in.
We’ll inspect this in more details, starting with a closer look into HuffPosts’s old name and logo.
The old name of HuffPost was “The Huffington Post”, and its logo, as well as the name itself, can be considered a legacy of old-school journalism. It was supposed to look and sound serious, professional and trustworthy.
Even the font used in the logo seems like it served to remind the readers of a physical, printed publication. The old logo basically just contained the words “The Huffington Post” written in thin, green serif typeface on a white background. It looked like it could be found on the front page of any top-selling newspapers.
And all this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Namely, The Huffington Post was founded in an era when online journalism was still more-less of a novelty, and in people’s minds, new means uncertain and unreliable. The logo should’ve been a sort of a compensation for this fact.
However, those times are long over and now it’s printed journalism that’s actually dying out. Hence the complete overhauling of the news portal’s logo and the entire visual identity shouldn’t come as a surprise either.
First of all, the change of name is obviously a way to conform to what works in online journalism and digital world in general.
It’s shorter, catchier and lacks the undesired seriousness that can make it look too unexciting and even inaccessible to a lot of people.
It’s no coincidence that the new name reminds of some of the most successful brands in the field of digital journalism or entertainment. Sites like BuzzFeed, ViralHog, ViralNova or PlayBuzz are all insanely popular and use the same pattern in their names.
In users’ minds, a name like this suggests light and amusing content and there’s a better chance that it will make them stop scrolling through their news feeds and tap on a link.
Also, the publication was widely recognized as “HuffPost” by its readers long before the official change of the name. In a way, the reinvention of the name was a way to show appreciation to the readers.
This is exactly what makes HuffPost’s name change a perfect branding crime. They modified it in order to make it sound fresher.
But at the same time this new name was already widely recognizable and the “new” brand basically just picked up where the old one stopped. No additional effort to help people associate the two names with the same brand was needed.
As for the logo, the reasoning behind changing it seems to be very similar to one that provoked the change of the name.
Just like the old logo, the new one also consists simply of the name of the brand written in green on a white background. However, this time there are a few important modifications.
Obviously, a shorter name means smaller and more compact logo. Furthermore, the typography has changed and the designers went for a sans-serif font, bold and italicized.
Also, there’s a slightly lighter nuance of green utilized, compared to the old logo.
Finally, there are two forward slashes book-ending the H and the T, carrying a lot of symbolism. Let’s see why all these new elements are so important.
Probably the most crucial new design element is the abovementioned slashes that bracket the name of the brand. First of all, they’re leaning forward, symbolizing HuffPosts’s progress.
The fact that HuffPost has become the first digital-only media to win the Pulitzer Prize shows that this news outlet has had great vision and understanding of the market from day one.
Forward slashes thus indicate that HuffPost has developed into a media giant over the years thanks to basically being ahead of their time.
Furthermore, slashes stand for HuffPost’s will to change and adapt to the new demands of the digital world. This whole redesign adventure should be the best proof of it.
Lastly, slashes are supposed to be reminiscent of the slashes employed in URLs, again suggesting the unbreakable relation of the brand with the online realm. In words of Julia Beizer, the former head of product at HuffPost and basically the mind behind the rebrand:
“The shape symbolizes the company’s moving forward into the future, and subtly pays homage to our heritage as the first scaled digital-only news brand by evoking the forward slash found in URLs.”
Apart from the main logo, the designers also created a shorter version that can be used on social channels, and it’s as rich in symbolism as the longer one.
It simply incorporates the two forward slashes divided by a single white line. The white line also represents a slash and at the same time a road. This might signify a long and difficult journey that HuffPost had to endure in the online world.
Moreover, this shortened logo reminds of an H, or at least that’s what they claim at HuffPost. Claiming similarity here may be a bit of a stretch, but it’s a nice touch from the designers anyway.
The logo also pays tribute to what people at HuffPost keep emphasizing as the most important trait of their journalism – objectivity. They promise not to lean to any of the sides of the political spectrum, but instead to report on events accurately and impartially.
That’s why the logo includes both sides of the road, bringing together people with divisive and even conflicting stories.
Although generally seen as a liberal outlet, they avoid getting closely associated with any of the political parties. As Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief at HuffPost explains:
“For me, the biggest divide… across the globe, is between those who have power and those who don’t. The media has come up short in telling the story of one side of that divide – those experiencing anger, voicelessness, and powerlessness.”
The most obvious symbol of HuffPost’s intend to move forward, at least judging by what most designers think, is the change in font.
Moving away from the traditional serif typeface to a more tabloid-resembling sans-serif seems to be very significant.
It illustrates the path that journalism has taken in recent years. There have always been numerous tabloids reporting on less relevant topics in a more sensationalist manner in order to sell more papers. But this is different.
The rise of social media and shortening of attention spans has forced some of the most traditional, old-school outlets to start experimenting with yellow stories and click baits just to get a few more clicks. So is HuffPost taking this road?
They certainly wouldn’t claim that. They see the font as simply “strong and a little quirky”. This presumably means that the point is not to turn to unimportant stories and sensationalism, but to make the news more dynamic, compelling and accessible.
Surely, you can’t say that HuffPost will become a tabloid judging by the font they chose for the new logo. But there are certainly hints that point to that direction and they go beyond the font.
The general intention of reinventing the logo seems to conform to the practices of modern-day digital journalism, not all of which are good.
With this whole rebrand, HuffPost supposedly tries to reach out to those who expect the news to be short, quick and amusing.
This is a tendency that is gradually growing out of proportions, as virtually all media are, at least partly, trying to conform to it. Unfortunately, the demands of the digital market are such that this trend is unlikely to change any time soon.
Now, one could argue that the intention of HuffPost’s logo redesign is to attract those looking for light and entertaining content and offer them a new look at more serious and important issues. In the process, this news may be slightly adapted and made livelier so it can be easily accessible to wide audiences.
However, there’s always a danger this may not be the case. And in the worst-case-scenario, HuffPost’s rebranding symbolizes the necessity of all news becoming irrelevant, sensationalist, easily forgettable with a sole purpose to entertain people. It just may be the demand made by our era that journalists won’t be able to disobey.
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