The New York Times Black Letter identity

The New York Times Black Letter identity


Why I cannot join Mark Wilson’s and Lauren Indivik’s enthusiasm for the redesign of the New York Times

I am no newspaper reader, never was, nor do I make use of a cell phone, why then I adore the New York Times, appears to be a signal of just how powerful the New York Times brand is.






The brand equity was thrown out with the bathwater

Don’t get me wrong, with the redesign close to everything was exemplarily done right:

  1. Adapting simplicity of mobile device interface restrictions
  2. Liquid Design: embracing adaptive design
  3. Making use of the tried and true WordPress CMS (Content Management System)
  4. Embedding of webfonts
  5. Guidance for readers from within the content rather than by menu structures

NYTimes for Android

NY Times for Android



The most valuable of a brand however, the brand equity, ie. it’s feasable representatives has been lost in the redesign.

The New York Times is a flagschip of world wide newspapers. Something the brand owes to the trust of loyal readers, accumulated over the course of decades for quality content (where the story comes first). Symbols and chacterisitics that have been injected into the skin of a global readership.

The redesign comes to market at the expense of the feasible part of brand equity and is questionable.

  1. Multi column newspaper layout
  2. Blackletter timesless quality typography

The new technology and adaptive design offers a formidable playground to explore and experiment with the classic tabloid layout and how to break the columns up for the different monitor sizes and resolutions out there.

The blackletter type possibly characterizes the New York Times more than anything else even though or because the competition makes use of it as well and is now elegantly supported by webfont technology.




About the video

BlackLetter was used throughout Europe from about 1150 until the end of the 17th century. One of my current preoccupations is developing a set of modern BlackLetter capitals that are highly legible, in BlackLetter terms, and yet retain the richness and beauty inherent in this ancient category of letterform. From time to time I will film clips like this to record my progress. Prints and originals available from Music by Carlos Márquez, Phoenix, USA.