The BBC’s Newsbeat first launched in 1973 as a news program with a pop culture slant geared toward 16 to 24-year-olds. Today, over 40 years later, the brand is no longer just a radio show that provides news bulletin updates on Radio 1; it also aims to have a strong online presence. To help move the program into the digital sphere, the BBC tapped Moving Brands to create a visual identity that would feel as dynamic as its audience.
How to design an identity that appeals to the Snapchat generation without patronizing them with a clichéd “youthful” design? Working closely with BBC’s editorial, product and brand teams, Moving Brands aimed to evolve the identity into something modern and sophisticated that conveyed the speed that young people scroll through online content. The most eye-catching result is an animated logo that looks a bit like a slot machine, with the letters in “beat” spinning and landing at different heights before bouncing back in line.
The old logo had a graffiti-inspired distressed effect that felt a little too “dad at the disco,” as BBC Creative Director Ryan O’Connell put it. “It definitely looked like it was chosen to look young by a bunch of old people,” O’Connell said in a phone interview. “It was like your parents telling you the news. We didn’t want it to feel like that.”
For the new logo, Moving Brands used a simple Effra typeface. Taking inspiration from the Newsbeat name, Moving Brands designed an animated wordmark that springs into motion when the user clicks on pre-programmed points within the site. “If you look at [the logo] when it’s still, it looks quiet,” said Darren Bowles, Moving Brands’ executive creative director, but when the user scrolls through the site, the logo reacts to the content.
Moving Brands’ lively new identity system for Newsbeat plays with the idea of being both “on the beat” and “off the beat,” meaning that while the new site will keep viewers up to date on current events, it will do so with its own unique voice. In keeping with the rhythmic theme, the grid system was built to mimic a simple music time signature—all elements of the grid are divisible by four, with all content landing on or off the beat as users scroll through the site. The design also features a unique color-picking methods, a tool used by the editorial team that takes tones found within the editorial images and applies them as slice overlays.
The branding really comes to life in the mobile app, where the designers played a bit more with the motion animation. The content loads vertically in series of different-sized cards. When you scroll through the main page assembles itself like building blocks.