Design for the always-on generation

Design for the always-on generation
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First Published: Thu, Feb 01 2007. 02 31 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Feb 01 2007. 02 31 AM IST
The creation of a new newspaper constitutes one of the most interesting, challenging challenging and auspicious opportunities for an editor and designer. In my 37-year career as a media consultant, I have had the privilege of bringing into the world seven new newspapers in a global neighbourhood that spans from Brazil and Croatia to Singapore and South Africa. All are still alive and thriving in their diverse communities.
With the introduction of Mint, today, we not only celebrate the birth of a newspaper, but also the concept of newspapers as a viable and necessary medium. At a time when some prematurely announce the demise of the print medium, citing the importance and fast rise of the electronic media, the birth of Mint reminds us of the value of the printed word. Readers continue to read, but they are, indeed, more selective about what they read.
I often cite the Harry Potter phenomenon as a clear example of this point. The average Harry Potter installment is about 760 pages, without visual images, and, yet, readers as young as 14 years of age devour the book in roughly two days. Of course, there is magic in those Harry Potter narratives, but there is also something for those of us who believe in words on paper to celebrate here: the fact that young people ARE reading.
And, while we continue to read, how we read has changed dramatically. The new Mint, the newspaper that you hold in your hands today, has been crafted with that in mind.
A newspaper today caters to an audience of what we refer to as the “culture of the always on”, those who are constantly connected, and expect to get news alerts and flashes as the news occurs, whether on their mobile telephones or emails. When they come to a printed newspaper, these readers already know some of the main stories of the day, which means that they come with higher expectations. They want the WHY of the story, the analysis of how an event affects their lives, the behind the scenes of a story they already know has happened. Mint will do that. It is a newspaper designed for two types of readers: scanners and traditional readers. Scanners, and that constitutes a large majority, including you and me, glance at headlines, read summaries, look at graphics and images. If a story appears interesting, or, better yet, offers new information, then we stop and read that story in its entirety. If not, we rely on the headlines and accessories around it to get the basics, and we move on to the next story.
Yes, we still expect serendipity in a newspaper. We are happy to encounter that gem of a story that we knew nothing about until we found it here. It does not have to be serious or transcendental, but it may be good to know, or even entertaining to read. A lot of what one enjoys in a printed newspaper is ephemeral in value, but enjoyable to consume. The pages of Mint will offer plenty of serendipity. There will be surprises, along with the utilitarian business news of the day.
Traditional readers, those who read page by page, following the normal rhythm of the newspaper, will find good navigational tools to guide them, and plenty of serious journalism and news in depth to satisfy their needs. Mint is a two-track newspaper, and readers may choose how they wish to take their daily journey through it, utilizing the Page 1 navigator, as well as the Page 2 index to guide them. The new definition of news, in a multimedia world, involves both reaffirmation and discovery. “I already know this,” the reader tells us, “but I want you to help me understand it—and quickly, please.” Discovery may come in the way of an analysis, or an exclusive. Mint will provide both.
It is all about quickness and substance, reaffirmation and discovery. The new Mint achieves this combination well.
One of the most fascinating design challenges here, for me, was the creation of a logo that had visual impact, significance and some type of visual icon that would be recognized. But it took a long time to get there. At first, we just played with the word Mint as type. Then one day, about a month ago, I was running one morning in Delhi and saw an old Indian coin, very shattered, on the ground. I picked it up and it reminded me of the old coins, called gazettas that were used to buy newspapers in Italy around 1586. The reason newspapers were called Gazettas then was because it was an indication to the public that it was cheap to buy the newspaper, that all you needed was a gazetta, or small change. With my mind racing, faster than my feet, I went back to the hotel and did an initial drawing, of coins. I liked the idea of using “tea leaves” on the coin, to go with the idea of mint. Mint and tea go together, just like mint and money go together. Perfect symbiosis, visually and symbolically.
Then I started working with the talented Mint Staff Illustrator, Jayachandran Nanu, and Mint Art Director, Anup Gupta, as well as our own Garcia Media Art Director on this project, Jan Kny, to design some coins that we could use as a dot on the “i”of Mint.
Everyone liked the iconic use of a coin, created just for Mint. Then, of course, coins have two sides. So I suggested to Jayachandran Nanu to make the flip side of the coin futuristic, as in cables, connections, and computers. One side, the old world of the gazetta, on the other, the modern world of today. The result was astonishing, and the coin will become an iconic branding element.
At a more subtle level, it is my own way of saluting the newspapers of the past as we launch this, the first financial daily totally created for the smartest, most demanding and impatient consumer of news ever.
The newspaper of the future is here!
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First Published: Thu, Feb 01 2007. 02 31 AM IST
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