Borba is the fourth most-read information portal in Montenegro. It owns a decades-long reputation in news publishing, from print to the digital era.
I was invited to help define a new visual identity of this well-established publishing house. To refresh its outlook making a new base for a complete website rehaul/redesign. To further develop a more distinct positioning in the highly competitive publishing sector. Borba is on the mission to attract new generations and spread the word beyond the current audience. A change in a design is the strongest marker for this purpose.
I was tasked to redesign a logotype and create the visual style guide. In that way, visual identity would fully support the new positioning. The current logo was created before its digital version — which has led to a number of technical and digital challenges.
Other challenges I faced were:
- tight deadline with the one month for realization and happening in the midst of New Year holidays
- Editor’s style choices/demands
- no in-house designer/creative team
- no SVG files of a previous logo
But sometimes, working in constrained circumstances, a designer employs even more creativity.
SITUATION – ideation
What I kept in the new logo design:
(Editor in chief wanted to preserve identity roots)
1) the recognizable brand color
2) feather which is a symbol of journalism
The pen is delicate and lyrical in its form, a philosophy-inspired symbol. While word „Borba“ in Montenegrin means fight. These two are on the opposite sides of the spectrum and energy. Feather is a sophisticated intellectual while the word fight has the connotation of a physical clash. This combination is not ideal and it needed a careful joint.
As a brand consultant, I always question meaning and…
Although the feather seems obsolete in today’s world, it strongly plays a noble symbol of Borba’s history. Thus it was essential that any development would have to elevate and enhance the past, rather than leaving it behind.
An assignment I, to some extent, feared and at the same time was excited about. For how to transform and renew a well-known brand without losing its legacy?
What followed was a deep consultation process — to ensure the result was the correct balance of past and future, the tradition and novelty introduction.
Logo, color, identity elements
With a strong visual heritage comes a range of identity elements. The Borba’s visual identity was the combination mark (letters + symbol) stuffed with extra elements. The color is ingrained in the memory of their audience. So, I kept an original tone, slightly adjusting its values. As Borba is primarily digital publishing, I chose a Maroon red, turned it into a web-safe shade. The new identity uses an updated signature color palette introducing a more confident shade of maroon, now called “Borba’s energy” and a complementary shade of gray.
To introduce novelty, I surveyed over 300 typefaces on the market. Tasked to find a proper presenter of Borba’s impact and energy.
Meet Bagnard, Borba’s identity typeface. The letters of this font have endings that suggest the blade of the sword while at the same time having stable pillars. They act as carriers (look at those solid letter lines) depicting the robust Borba’s character.
This font has an interesting background. The author sourced it from history papers, pictures of the walls from Napoleon’s war. According to tradition, the prints on walls were graffiti by one of the prisoners. By restoring the found graffiti manuscripts, he created a Bagnard font. The font is not very present on the media scene, which works in favor.
This logo is masculine, it is at the same time dignified and combative with blade-like endings in R, B. About this font: “it is authentic, non-conformist a serif inspired by the graffiti of an anonymous prisoner from the Napoleons wars. It has an interesting style that makes it suitable for vintage projects taste and modern, brutal design.” Everything in this explanation was in line with Borba’s identity.
After choosing a typeface, only then did I redrew the feather to match it to the typeface’s line style. Joining a momentous typeface with a delicate feather to get the “Borba attitude” was a real question.
To solve the next one – visual brand inconsistency across all its visual communications, I introduced two primary typefaces. And developed a visual style guide of a brand. This ensures a visual hierarchy and cohesive brand look.
Why do I emphasize on typography?
1) Typography is Borba’s main visual asset. They use photography for news publishing but the greater importance is on font readability for the user’s experience. I opted for a serif typeface for Headings. For the copy, I chose sans serif which aligns with their short, informative daily news. A combination of serif and sans serif creates a dynamic on a web page. And both of them support Latin letters such as ćčšđž etc.
2) visual style guide to ensure consistency through all their’s appearance in the media. Their team is less skilled in this area so they needed a simple and easy guide to have at hand. Visual style guide makes everything in one place. A system that drives visual consistency. It’s an aesthetic bible of a brand.
The new visual identity captures the progressive energy and resolve of Borba moving forward.
The simplified identity elements, defined web-safe brand color, a feather that matches a new signature… These changes seem subtle but they made an overall impression and reflect the ambition of the house. With the new visual identity, Borba strives to keep the audience’s trust. A unified brand, consistent wherever communicates its mission.
With a reimagined identity and visual style guide, I ensured a clear recognition of a brand with an intent to provoke new perceptions and audiences. It’s quite early but I expect increased engagement and collaboration through communication channels.
This wasn’t a case of making a fundamental change, it was about taking the most suitable elements and turning them for a digital age.