In the moment: AP Style and Design


One of the strongest and most valuable brands in the world.

Today, the Associated Press is one of the leading breaking news sources for the world. This is clearly defined by the fact that AP considers 48 hour-old news as archival. This place of trust in our lives has been earned by a brand that embodies the idea of getting it right the first time. It is also earned by those who risk their lives in situations where bullets are as common as Starbucks cups are here.

Freedom of the press is a foundational element of any free culture on the planet. Yet, obtaining news is not free. It has a value in lives lost and hidden stories uncovered. The AP brand has nearly as much history as the United States of America, starting in 1846 as five daily newspapers in New York got together to share the cost of transmitting news. The history also goes back to Mark Kellogg in 1876 being the first AP news correspondent killed while reporting the news and all the way forward to Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed by Afghan police earlier this month. 

Just as freedom is not free, news is not free.  

It is hard to associate the idea of "brand" with such an authentic organization, but the AP is a trusted brand. This challenging perception is only because we associate "brand" with consumable products pitched to us by puffery, advertising and hidden truth. This is in such dramatic contrast with what the AP is, getting to the truth at great costs. But if you have a modern understanding of a strong brand, you know the smallest gap between truth and reality contributes to the strongest brands. So while advertising often leverages puffery and over-promises, the AP has built a brand on the noble effort of uncovering the truth and telling stories with impeccable accuracy.  

This means you could say the AP is one of the strongest brands in the world. 

Now, consider what is spent to build a brand in our society. If you take a modern approach to brands, you know it goes far beyond advertising or promotional budgets. And, you likely know a brand like Starbucks builds a valuable brand by designing an engaging experience around a legally obtainable stimulant. Hence, the entire store operations budget each year is spent on building the Starbucks brand. So what price has been paid to build the Associated Press brand? They have had 32 staffers killed in action over 168 years of AP history. Globally, 1,054 reporters and photojournalists havegiven their lives since 1992. Either number, the price is immeasurable and certainly far beyond any operating budget or advertising spend for any brand on the planet. 

Therefore, you could say the AP is one of the most valuable brands in the world. 

The strongest and most valuable brand in the world is run by a not-for-profit organization. This immensely powerful brand is designed for good, truth and the distribution of knowledge. 

This is why when we talked with Mike Bowser, the AP Director of Branding and Creative Services, we were grateful to hear his thoughtful approach to building the brand. He talked about the evolution of news reporting, photojournalism and the vast amount of archival news the AP has to offer brands. And, the conversation afterward confirmed that Mike was the right person to lead the effort to clearly define the AP brand. Trust in delivering an accurate account was paramount to Mike and speaking to only what he new with great confidence as essential.

Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to inform the FUSE audience. We look forward to future conversations you will design for audiences.   

Where many brands are built on a false promise, the AP brand is built on accuracy, FIRST. 

Managing Principal

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