Love And Logos: 'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!' Gets A New Look

Sep 3, 2013
Originally published on September 4, 2013 8:47 am

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, NPR's oddly-informative news quiz, had a question that couldn't be answered through witty wordplay. The show needed a visual makeover. Until now, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! was still using its original branding, a typeface and speech-bubble logo developed shortly after the show's debut more than 15 years ago.

(You know, being a radio show allows one to get away with keeping its visual look a bit longer than average.)

Since times do change, the NPR Marketing and Branding team was tasked with giving Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! a new look as fresh and timely as the week's headlines. As a graphic designer, writing for me feels akin to playing Not My Job. But for the love of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, I was willing to throw vectors to the wind and give you a peek at the process.

A redesign is hardly ever as effortless or clean as the final product, and this one required the work of several different departments here at NPR: Programming, Consumer Products, Legal and, of course, the entire Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! crew, too. In Marketing and Branding, we pored through portfolio after portfolio and chose four designers we thought had a smart and savvy style that would best represent the show. We asked them each to develop a series of logo comps and, eventually, we selected one skilled designer: Mike Casebolt.

As it turned out, Casebolt was an NPR fan and was happy to take the job on as a freelance project, working nights and weekends (when Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! airs, of course). After presenting a few bells (literally) and whistles, we figured out what concepts were – and weren't – working.

After taking in all of our feedback, Casebolt came up with a clear winner: the 'newsclamation point' icon. Well, that's what we like to call it anyway. It cleverly represents the show at its core, while also being bold and unique enough to stand alone. Casebolt offered proof of concept by developing variations on logo typography and color palettes, followed by establishing a full system of branded items: t-shirts, tote bags, online brand elements, co-branded ads for Member Stations and even a whole new visual package for live events.

Now you'll see Casebolt's and our handiwork in the programs and on stage banners when you attend a live Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! taping, and also online when you visit the show's website, Twitter and Facebook pages, or when you download the podcast.

That's how the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! makeover went down. Before we go, though, we thought we'd have some fun by tapping the vast intellect of the show's esteemed panelist for ideas about what the next logo will be. Here's what they dreamed up:

A.) A semicolon. B.) A holographic image of Peter telling me I'm in third place going into the Lightening Round. - Paula Poundstone

Given that we finally got around to adding a newspaper to the logo just in time for the complete disappearance of actual newspapers, I'm pretty sure the next logo is going to feature a news headline on a Palm Pilot. - Adam Felber

It will just be a hologram of Paula. - Kyrie O'Connor

Well, at least we'll have some ideas to... get us started.

Katie Burk is a graphic designer at NPR. She was the design project manager and production designer for the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! rebrand.

Emerson Brown contributed to this post.

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