making headlines with the Indo.

At the tail end of 2023, editorial design guru Mark Porter got in touch to see if we could help out on an ongoing project for the Irish Independent. He’d been busy developing the Indo’s Masterbrand, as it evolved from a disparate group of newspapers, websites and apps into a single multi-platform news brand.

Mark and I go back a long way. We originally met at Haymarket Publishing in the 1990s and both worked on ‘Direction’ magazine, which catered to a graphic design and creative advertising audience. Later, we became stablemates at the ‘Guardian’. It was great to get the chance to work with him again.

When the (rather wonderful) Indo marketing team briefed me and revealed the state of play, I was suitably impressed. There was plenty of illustration in the mix, and it looked strangely familiar. That’s because it’s by Andy Goodman, who I’d previously collaborated with on several book projects, including the D&AD pencil-winning ‘Grimm Bros: Business Fairy Tales’.

So, taking our cue from researching the Irish Independent and Andy’s illustration style, we started developing a flexible tone of voice for headlines and short copy. Something that would hit the spot in campaigns and marketing collateral. We felt that it needed to be human and accessible, while incorporating a touch of wit. We wanted the audience to work a little. And hopefully smile a little.

We worked mainly on print and digital executions for subscription campaigns. But also for offers, regional coverage, special features, and more. Our words and Andy’s illustrations came to life in charming short animations by Smörgåsbord Studio and John Beckers. And, where appropriate, like the ‘Fab 50 Best Places to Stay in Ireland’ promo, our headlines and copy were perfectly paired with photography.

The Indo’s new branding system has gone down extremely well. In the first quarter after launch, brand tracking saw awareness outmatching the Indo's primary competitor RTÉ (The Irish state TV network) for the very first time.

Full credits:
Creative direction: Mark Porter Associates
Dublin design team: Clare Bell & Max Phillips
Custom typeface: Signal Type Foundry
Motion design and animation: Smörgåsbord Studio with John Beckers
Music and sound design: Smörgåsbord Studio with Wevie
Illustrations: Andy Goodman
Copywriting: Jim K Davies @totalcontent
Strategy: Leslie Mello
OOH & TV Campaign: The Public House

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