humankind usa today


Case Study


Stories worth sharing

Humankind is a global, news video brand that lives on USA Today. Now with millions of followers, and global brand expansions, Humankind exists to tell stories worth sharing. The Gannett Innovation Lab partnered with Motto to develop and launch the media brand on USA Today to bring uplifting stories about kindness, triumphs and special relationships to the world. Motto created the platform framework, positioning strategy, brand name, messaging, key copy, verbal and visual identity, and graphics package for the network.

What We Did:

  Concept development
  Brand position
  Messaging strategy
  Brand identity + guidelines
  Verbal identity
  Motion graphics package

Project Mission

Share positive stories of people doing good.

With all the negativity, violence, suffering and disaster that dominates the news, it’s no wonder people are so disillusioned about the world we live in. What about all the beautiful, wondrous things that happen all around us every day? The stories of kindness, triumph, positivity and grace — of regular people just like us, and the neighbor down the street. These are the stories that warm hearts, crack smiles, lift spirits, and restore faith in humanity.

Within the USA TODAY network of content, there were a lot of positive news stories that got hidden amongst the bad news and sensational headlines. A team from the Gannett Innovation Lab was tasked to develop a brand to bring these stories to the fold. They called it “Inspiration Nation” and leaned on Motto to realize the vision.

The Strategy

Banish negativity. Foster positivity.

We positioned the brand as a breath of fresh air and a beacon of hope in the industry. Motto’s lead strategists developed a purpose-first brand strategy that was a stark contrast to news outlets that thrive on negativity. It was a bold move for USA Today to take a stand against negativity when their entire business was built around it. Motto worked shoulder to shoulder with the innovation team to encourage and celebrate the points of difference in order to build emotional connections with the audience. We knew that their tribe was salivating for positive news and stories that inspire.


A new name that captures the spirit of the brand.

The Gannett team original pitched the name to us as “Inspiration Nation.” Motto recommended changing the name which was a bit blah and forced, to something fresher, more compelling and likable. We suggested “Humankind” because it created differentiation, is rich in word play, speaks to positive feelings, and captures the spirit of the human race going good things. Leadership loved that it perfectly hooked into the brand concept, and we used it to inspire the verbal and visual identity.

Brand Identity

Owning the heart.

The “heart & camera” logo represents the brand’s core aesthetics. We wanted the design to bring Humankind’s heartwarming stories to life, so we centered the visual identity around an iconic heart. The result stays true to the core values and brand concept laid out during our strategy and positioning phase. However, it is the little love icon that embodies all the humane and caring qualities that define Humankind. We used bright colors and playful elements to create a visual language that reflects the essence of the brand. It is a universal shape now used throughout the full graphics package Motto created.

Animation & Motion

An “on air” network package titles, logo animation, on screen text, quotes & bugs.

After designing the identity system, we then designed a full animated graphics package that radiates with pure positivity. The identity package was implemented into color variations, storyboards, and more. The result is a turn-key, ready made After Effects back end that’s easy for Gannett’s video team to use in house.

Brand Expansion

The huge success of Humankind was leveraged to launch additional platforms under the brand.

Several subbrands were developed to focus on special areas of news interest. Animalkind covers good news stories about incredible fuzzy, scaly, and furry friends. Militarykind covers inspiring stories of members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the extraordinary things they and their loved ones experience. Kidkind covers good news stories about kids performing positive acts, overcoming great odds and sharing special connections. Sportskind covers inspiring stories of fans and athletes.


Starting from ground zero, Humankind is now creating a positive, shareable world.

Humankind is brought in more than $2.4M in sponsor revenue for USA TODAY. The success of Humankind has grown to expand into Animalkind and Miltarykind. Starting with 0 followers, there are now over 5 million fans. MilitaryKind,” grew to 1.2 million followers within two months ago of its premiere.


“Our hearts exploded with love for everything Motto created for Humankind.”

Lauren R., Senior Video Producer, Gannett

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