Monday, August 11, 2008

'Chicago Tribune' nameplate in Comic Sans?

It's no secret Chicago Tribune designers have been under the gun to get a redesign of the paper done by the end of this month.

But apparently more may be up -- a complete redesign of the Trib's venerable nameplate.

While I was in Chicago, my contacts in Trib Tower told me that Tribune COO Randy Michaels (aka Benjamin Homel) walked into the designers' nest one evening, pointed to the nameplate and said, to the effect, "Are we really tied to that tired old typeface?"

So, I'm told, several mock-ups with different typefaces (I couldn't find out which ones) have been prepared.

This is all very interesting since Scott C. Smith, then the publisher, and then-Editor Ann Marie Lipinski went to great lengths in January, after the last redesign (which, it would seem, was far less ranging than the one coming up) to assure people that while the blue streak had been removed from behind the Trib's nameplate, the venerable Old English font was secure.
So we are introducing a new nameplate that exudes a less brassy and more contemporary look. At the same time, we have preserved our distinctive font, drawn in the style of Old English, as well as the American flag and the color we fondly call "Tribune blue." We hope those attributes are reassuring reminders of the paper's values and heritage.
But Smith and Lipinski are gone, and new owner Sam Zell apparently has designs on turning Tribune Tower into condos (if you put any stock in the numerous times I was told that by those with current and former ties to the newsroom), so replacing that huge Old English "Chicago Tribune" on the side of the building should not be a problem.

The only question is whether Michaels/Homel was just funnin', as he's been known to do. But there are reasons to think he's not. Consider this from a recent interview with a Tribune blogger:
We should grieve for those who have been downsized. We should NOT be mourning the loss of anything else. Everything has its time. Do we want to look like the Tribune of June 10, 1847? How about 1900? 1910? 1970? This paper has changed with the times, and must continue to do so.
So what will it be? The Trib in a nice simple sans-serif?

Chicago Tribune

Or what about Planet Kosmos, since Zell et al., keep talking about looking forward, not to the past:

Or maybe Comic Sans? After all, they want to lighten up a bit.

What are your suggestions for Randy & Co.? (Typeface, folks. Nothing else - this is a family blog.)

In fact, what typeface do you think captures best your local paper's true being?

Put it in the comments. Even better is if you can put a screenshot up on something like Flickr and link to it so we can see it. (If you go to Font Seek, you can find hundreds of fonts. Many of the sites to which it points you have a free-try box - type in some text and it displays in that font. Then, it's as easy as taking a screenshot and posting it.)

Update: See new post with picture of prototype from E&P

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At 8/11/08, 3:02 PM, Anonymous Luke said...

Just a quick comment: things like logos and especially mastheads of newspapers are as often examples of *lettering* as they are uses of *typefaces*. That is, they are often designed only to write the particular phrase needed, rather than as full typefaces, from which the phrase (and any other needed phrase) could be composed.

In the Tribune's case, it is almost certain, whether they go with the old logo or a new one, that it'll be a custom job, and not letters set in a preexisting typeface. And it's quite possible that letters beyond the CTabceghinoru needed to write "Chicago Tribune" won't ever exist.

At 8/11/08, 3:19 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Point well taken.

But the nameplate clearly is very close to Monotype Engravers or URW's Monotype.

And we can't have any fun if we restrict it to custom faces, can we? {grin} (Besides, I think the mock-ups are using common faces, then to be jobbed out for customization as desired.)

At 8/11/08, 3:47 PM, Anonymous Luke said...

Sorry, yeah, you're absolutely right that this is a subtle and pedantic distinction in a lot of cases... But it is important, especially as a reminder that even in an age where choosing a typeface is as easy as a click of the mouse, the content and context should still be completely intertwined with the chosen form. In a lot of cases, especially for something as prominent as a nameplate, that requires more attention to the specific words being typeset than an already designed font can offer.

Anyhow, I wasn't trying to fight the premise of the post at all, or suggest that people shouldn't bother with non-custom suggestions. But I *would* love to see some folks comment with custom artwork. :)

At 8/12/08, 1:58 AM, Anonymous Luke said...

Ok... didn't have time to do the word "Tribune", so it's just "Chicago", but here's my idea for a slight revision of the current nameplate:

At 8/12/08, 8:50 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Rumor has it that the Trib design staff have been looking at The Guardian from the UK for their design ideas. So, given that bit of information, how about a Guardian-style nameplate? Here's my ideas.

At 8/13/08, 3:13 PM, Anonymous Joe Knowles said...

Nice to know so many people care about our nameplate. I hope they are all seven-day-a-week subscribers, too.

At 8/13/08, 4:29 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...


Interesting. I like the interplay of the face and the blue background.

Yes, would that it were so. If the nameplate changes, you'll probably get more reaction out of that than anything you've done right or screwed up on in recent months. Another reason for the love-hate relationship with this business, eh?



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