humankind gannett


Helping USA Today create stories worth sharing

Humankind Case Study

With heavyweights like BuzzFeed and Upworthy dominating the news, USA Today asked Motto to help launch a media brand full of powerful stories that matter.

It’s easy to overlook good news, especially on large media platforms. USA TODAY realized this and set out to change the way it curates positive stories by creating a social video brand focused on stories about special relationships, acts of kindness and out of the ordinary triumphs.

Motto was hired by USA Today/GANNETT to name, brand and launch a disruptive viral content model that would flip the traditional news market on its head.

Client: Gannett
Brand Strategy
Brand Positioning
Brand Messaging
Brand Identity
Stories that Matter

I. Challenge

Create a buzzworthy brand that would sky rocket visibility and gain global exposure and create a name that would capture a news media moonshot.

Within the USA TODAY network of sites, there were a lot of beautiful, well-told stories, but they often got lost amongst the bad news and sensational headlines. A team from the Gannett Video Production Center went through the Gannett Innovation lab to create a daily series on USA TODAY to bring more attention to these great stories. As the series progressed, Gannett needed Motto to create a powerful brand, voice and identity.

Originally called “Inspiration Nation,” Gannett’s leadership wanted a better name to build the brand around. Positive news is becoming rare, especially on large media platforms, and it was important for this brand to emotionally resonate, stand apart from other video brands, and spark social sharing. Motto brainstormed hundreds of name ideas before selecting Humankind. The name elicits positive feelings and captures the collective spirit of special relationships, random acts of kindness, and triumphs that the brand is grounded in. It also speaks to how easy it is for the human race to make a difference in the world.

II. Brand Personality

Kindness, triumph, positivity and grace were our guidelines when developing the visual identity.

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. The “heart & camera” logo represents the brand’s core aesthetics. 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.

III. Animation & Motion

Open titles, logo animation, on screen text, name tags, end tags, quotes & bugs.

After designing the identity system, we then designed a full animated graphics package that radiates with pure positivity. We made the After Effects back end extremely customizable and easy for Gannett’s video team to use in house.


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

Lauren R., Senior Video Producer, Gannett

Work With Motto