The Straits Times and friends rebrand

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It’s been an awfully long time since The Straits Times, and The Sunday Times redesigned their newspapers. The outdatedness of their previous design was getting particularly noticeable. Or perhaps, it was just getting bland. Read on to find out the new features — or at least what I noticed.

The Sunday Times redesign

  • More colourful, energetic blocks of colour for featured stories on the front page
  • For these featured stories, bullet points (•) are used to seperate the article name and the manual excerpt
  • Bylines are in blue colour
  • The masthead ditches the previous high stroke contrast logotype for a more low-contrast and somewhat ungainly logotype; a terrible decision
  • Opinion articles are now adorned with large, bold drop-caps

The Straits Times redesign

  • Much larger titles for different sections of the paper
  • The “life” section’s front-page header, a swooshy, italic rendition of the word “life”, takes a spin with a new snazzy colour gradient on its letters
  • In the same token, the “life” section has new wavy lines at the top of every spread instead of the original straight lines
  • In contrast to the Sunday Times redesign, the previously corporate blue featured stories now have no colour behind the text; they’re transparent
Front-page of newly-designed The Sunday Times newspaper.
A blurry photo. As you can guess, I took it with my computer’s webcam.

I ought to applaud this decision. Redesigning two newspapers might not be the most urgent on the editor’s to-do list, but it feels necessary to me. Besides, you have to redesign once in a while, lest the readers lose interest in visually.

That said, the designers efforts could have been better.

Some examples: The “life” header is much too trendy for a national state-owned paper; who knows? What if this falls out of popularity? How about that masthead? It was originally rather pompous; sporting high-contrast strokes. Why did they change it to a font intended for small line-upon-line chunks of text? Didn’t the typeface The Straits Times specially commision a decade ago come in a display version? My brain is flooding with questions.


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Is this a true redesign? Or is it a wasted opportunity? The verdict remains open. But, I believe the in-house designers could have done much better.

It’s interesting to think about it this way: What if I were the designer in charge? What would I do? The most important thing that needs to be rectified would — without a doubt — be the choice of font. I’ve noticed that the typeface seems to lack any proper ligatures for the display variant (both standard and discretionary), and the designers had to revert to good old-fashioned kerning and Open-Type trickery (mind you, I am a strong propenent of Open-Type) to conceal this ugly typographic detail. Which is, of course, ironic, as it is in the larger optical sizes that these unsightly irregularities will ring off alarm bells in one’s eye.

If you happen to live in Singapore, please tell me if I missed anything out!

Published by Thomas Rettig

Hi!

4 thoughts on “The Straits Times and friends rebrand

  1. Good work, Thomas! Watch the spelling of redesign (2x typo). You see much more than I do, and you also know the technical terms!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  2. Hi Bergen, I appreciate your reading of my article. In my opinion, the redesign is verging towards the “bad” zone, because of some design errors, such as using a font designed for text as the masthead (logo) for the paper. What do you think?

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