Mark Lawson Bell brands Sideways News project

Online publishing start-up Sideways News launches this week with an identity and branding created by Mark Lawson Bell and a website delivered by 9web.

The news digest site, which the founders intend as an antidote to negative reporting from the mainstream media, and which will also give suggestions for readers to take positive action on UK and global issues, is the brainchild of former Unilever marketer Alison Cousin, who together with business partner Emiel van Melis, started to develop the media concept back in 2007.

Cousin says, ‘We’re quite keen to concentrate on what matters. Sideways News is not happy-clappy or worthy – we want to ensure good coverage of the important stuff. The aim is to really bring to life the challenges of the 21st century, such as water resources or conflicting ideologies. Community – connecting and enabling – will be a big part of Sideways News.’

London branding consultancy MLB, headed by director Mark Lawson Bell, was appointed to develop the identity and branding, after a five-way pitch against consultancies Cousin had worked with at Unilever.

The brief was to communicate the concept, attitudes and values of Sideways News through the creation of an identity and supporting visual language.

An owl, with its powerful vision and ability to turn its head 270°, was for us the perfect friendly metaphor for the brand,’ says Lawson Bell.

Ian Clarke, director of 9web, explains that the emphasis on community has informed the functionality of the website during its development.

‘One of the main aims for the site is to generate a community, and to get that user interaction we focused on, tailoring the site for repeat visits and getting into what users are interested in and commenting on,’ says Clarke.

The consultancy has applied and built on the branding, to create visual connections to stimulate repeat visits. The site uses white space and clear iconography as part of its navigation design, adds Clarke.

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