The Daily Mirror’s redesign represents one of the most radical changes to our national tabloids in the past three decades. And it’s not over yet. The changes are probably still only 70 per cent complete – and whether the red top stays is, I understand, still up for grabs.
The changes may be evolutionary but the Spanish-influenced look is very different – big cap headlines on inside pages (2, 4), italics (6)(didn’t we get rid of those in the Eighties?), masses of colour, non-traditional typefaces (3, 5), an explosion of graphics and a features section straight out of the magazine catalogue.
And whereas it might have been an initial shock to the eye, and I still have reservations about the italic caps, the new-look takes a bold and refreshing step towards the merging of newspaper and magazine styles.
In 1998 the Mirror jettisoned Flyer as its headline face and adopted The Sun’s Tempo. Since then the two tabloids have looked too similar. Now the Mirror has a character of its own. The main news headline font on page 1 (1) may look like Tempo but is Mirror
(a tweaked version of Agenda). In lower case it is modern, distinctive, clean and offers a count that allows meaningful headlines (2).
It is also a face that does not require cumbersome underscores. The contrast face is a slab serif Soho. Ionic, an old warhorse of a body-copy typeface, has been replaced by Corporate. With its slab-serif feel and a slightly smaller x height, it breathes a slice of air into the columns (2).
In features, the type changes are the most startling. The curly, slab serif Farao (3) provides a jaunty contrast to the news pages. The count may turn out to be prohibitive for the headline writers but it certainly gives Your Life a brand of its own.
Here is the boldest and best change. Sport uses the Mirror font in caps italics, to give the pages their own pace and brand (6). Caps are harder to read, can be difficult for headline writers, and italics have long been disregarded by UK newspapers as old-fashioned. What comes around, goes aroundâ€¦ but the sports subs may need to work hard to maintain the quality of the words.
Where the section really delivers, particularly in Mania, is with the simple ‘computer’graphic panel, giving the stats of each game. With the scoreline across the top and the panel down the side, the copy is allowed to sit in a neat block, making it easier to read.
The pages have increased the detail and points of interest, improved the display and yet are easier to navigate and read. No mean feat.
The traditionalist in me reeled at the curly slab serif headline face Farao (3). The characters touch each other in the most awkward of places and the pronounced feet on the ‘m’gives it a slightly comical look. But these pages are not aimed at me. My Heat-reading teenagers are comfortable with the look, as is my wife, and it certainly gives the section a modern, feminine feel.
The three colours – bubblegum, grape and electric lime are used whenever the section is referred to on page 1, emphasising that it is almost a publication in its own right.
The Mirror’s design has grown on me. The initial shock at the italic caps has subsided and I like the Latin feel and tabloid energy. There are still bits that jarâ€¦ the fussy 3D buttons on the bylines (2, 4), for example.
Overall Barcelona design firm Cases Associats has worked with editor Richard Wallace and associate editor Matt Kelly to create a vibrant tabloid that has taken a huge step into the magazine worldâ€¦ but is still recognisably the Mirror. With breaking-news no longer the role of newspapers, how long before others adopt the same approach?
Peter Sands has redesigned more than 85 newspapers and magazines