Auf Wiedersehen, Pet – The Guardian says Ciao to Berliner

Jake Setterfield – Account Manager

Last Monday, Guardian News & Media (GNM), publisher of The Guardian and The Observer, produced its daily newspaper in tabloid format for the first time in its history.

 

 

 

Touted as a brave move appealing to readers’ ever-changing media consumption by advocates of the redesign, critics cite the move as an unashamed cost cutting measure.

The change is the latest since the paper’s move to the modern Berliner format in 2005. The Berliner redesign was greeted with international design awards and welcomed with a rise in circulation from readers, enjoying the easy to read format of the eye-catching, full colour paper. At the same time, and with extraordinary prescience, Roy Jeans, the managing director of Magna Global UK predicted: “I believe that in ten years’ time, all newspapers will be tabloid” ….

However, despite the initial warm reception, the decade since hasn’t been so kind on the Berliner, with circulation halving to 161,000, resulting in a reported £38m of losses last year alone. The change to tabloid is hoped to return significant savings for the paper, forming part of its three-year plan to break even by 2019.

The paper has guaranteed that it will continue to offer quality journalism in a tabloid format, but it will be hard for the public to shake the conception that a newspaper’s class and quality is intrinsically linked with its format – something that will be put to the test in the paper’s forthcoming circulation reports.

As for design, the new masthead and typeface has been compared with that of the Evening Standard, seemingly a step back from the paper’s colourful predecessor with a rather traditional appearance.  The content is however driven by striking images, with ad placements popping out of the page and screen. It is also 40% smaller than the Berliner, which will affect ads sold on size, raising some concerns in the ad-world.

We work closely alongside our partner agency, Better, on creative rebrand projects. John Taylor, Creative Director of the Middlesbrough based branding experts, comments:

 

“Tabloid is certainly a lot more comfortable to hold, but from a design perspective the new format, somewhat counter-intuitively, offers a larger canvas area for the front page. This is because it neatly removes the need to cram content above the fold of the Berliner format, which should excite the designers by offering more personality, impact and flexibility.

 

“In terms of heading and masthead, it’s a pleasingly crisp and sober evolution rather than a radical change. Reintroducing the uppercase T and G in the masthead adds authority and confidence, while Commercial Type’s new ‘Guardian Headline’ font feels familiar yet sharper and more precise. A fitting solution for a newspaper that prides its journalism on clarity. I’m not 100% sold on the lock-up, it looks and feels much more authoritative.

 

“Only time will tell if it delivers towards longer term financial goals but the immediate impression is a more concise, sharper, cleaner experience with added gravitas. Refreshing and unlikely to alienate existing readers.”

 

Editorially, the paper was also criticised on its content last week, as it was seen as lacking character and hard-hitting scoops. However, investigative stories from the paper in the past (the likes of the Panama Papers and the phone hacking scandal) are few and far between in their occurrence and it could be forgiven for avoiding a big sensationalist splash to coincide with its reformat.

 

In summary, the content is intended to work seamlessly across the outlet’s platforms both in print and online, in order to assert the importance of impartial reporting in a digital world. On the launch, the outlet commented: “Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and, witty, stylish and fun”.

 

In a similar move, Acceleris’ client, the Maritime Trade Union, Nautilus International, has very recently redesigned its Telegraph newspaper, an outlet keeping its maritime professional membership base up to date on a wide range of industry issues.

 

Sent free to union members and available for subscription, the paper moved from a similar Berliner format towards an eye-catching, easier to read magazine. The move was a response from members’ requests for a bigger, better and faster manner for communications as they make the move to more digital driven content.

 

The Union wanted to retain the award-winning print outlet, but also taking advantage of digital opportunities, delivering news to members as it happens, accessing it wherever and whenever they want. Nautilus’ General Secretary, Mark Dickinson announced: “We need to provide news in a more immediate and dynamic manner… [the magazine] will provide readers with top news stories over the past month, together with in depth analysis and features on the industry”.

 

Through our copywriting division, Writers Inc, we work closely with our clients on creating engaging and eye-catching content, whether it’s an anniversary publication, a staff magazine, or an annual report. Feel free to get in touch (jakes@acceleris-mc.com), if you’re thinking about changing your branding or considering a refresh of your collateral.

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