Howard University Center for Journalism & Democracy
In April 2022, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones hired Ghost Note to lead the branding and visual identity design behind her ambitious new initiative the Center for Journalism & Democracy. The institute, which will train the next generation of investigative journalists and be housed at the iconic Howard University, commissioned Ghost Note to create a bold identity rooted in the history of Black activism and reporting.
This project provided a unique opportunity to celebrate the deep traditions of Black journalism, while also creating a strategy and institutional brand to inspire young journalists across the country to take up the mantle of investigating the most pressing issues of our day.
The Center for Journalism and Democracy’s visual identity embraces vital conversation and discourse, and honors the legacy of the Black press while positioning itself firmly as the next leader of change.
Legacy of the Black Press
The brand identity and strategy were grounded in traditions of the Black press to influence and shape the American press in ways that advance racial equality and justice, hold power accountable and strengthen U.S. democracy. The Center for Journalism & Democracy is teaching and nurturing the next generation of journalists who will investigate and report on the most critical matters of our time.
The primary logo for the Center for Journalism and Democracy is a bold and commanding wordmark that is rooted in contemporary journalism, while paying homage to long- standing tradition. The secondary lockup provides a shorthand version of the logomark, which can be used at smaller sizes and in select use cases.
The Center for Journalism and Democracy brand is centered around three central colors. These colors can be used across all branded materials and assets, and can stand alone or be paired with accent colors from the secondary palette. The fresh, vibrant secondary color palette gives the visual identity a wide range of expression.
VTC Spike serves as the Center for Journalism and Democracy brand display typeface. Developed by Vocal Type Co. and inspired by visionary Black director Spike Lee, whose work is known for bold statements about Black American life. Spike shares a visual affinity with condensed and expanded sans-serif headline fonts often deployed in newspapers. This, combined with the ethos of the directors work, made Spike a perfect choice for the brand.