Vocativ: A new brand of journalism

A bold new media platform finds its voice






Vocativ is a real-time social news organization that puts the power of information in the hands of the people. Targeting digital natives and millennials in their 20s and 30s with a big data approach to journalism, the global news site meshes intelligent (proprietary) technology, experienced (and social media-savvy) journalists and the wisdom of the crowd to find story leads and angles no other news organization can—or cares to—uncover. In its own words, “Vocativ navigates the Deep Web to make sense of the 80 percent of the open Internet that search engines don't reach: public social media posts, open databases and records.”

Backed by AGT International, a leading global security and intelligence provider, the social news startup approached Interband about building a brand that would stand out in a cluttered digital space, convey credibility, and command a premium. Competing with traditional media online properties, social platforms competing to break news such as Twitter, and individuals self-publishing on their own blogs or sites like the Huffington Post, LinkedIn and Tumblr, the news startup needed a compelling name, identity and positioning to set it apart and communicate its bold mission to reinvent journalism and engage a public wary of mainstream media.

By leveraging AGT’s advanced technology to analyze “the Deep Web” in order to uncover the ideas and voices that were being overlooked or ignored by traditional media outlets, the brand’s mission isn’t just making news more social—but fundamentally changing the way news is reported, vetted, and consumed. With abundant data indicating that the news media is not trusted by consumers, the goal was to launch with a unique “look” or “sound” to capture their target audience’s attention and loyalty. We needed to create a brand that promised a new way to experience news that was high-tech, smart, and mobilized participation.

To achieve that goal, we helped the new brand establish a positioning around its key differentiator: Putting advanced intelligence-grade technology in the hands of everyday people, helping them connect the dots and see the truth in the complexity of the bigger picture. Emphasizing fact-based development and utilizing Brand Playback, our unique approach to social listening, to inform our process, we devised a bold strategy, name, logo and visual identity.

Reflecting the brand’s daring stance, “fearless journalism” and democratic ethos, the name—Vocativ—evokes both “provocative” and “voice.” Further reinforcing the brand’s mission and founding spirit, assertive messaging (such as “elevate what matters”) highlights its commitment to engaging individuals and getting to the truth.

Designed to drive behavior and gauge the interest and credibility of both professional users and “citizen journalists,” we created a user experience that would deliver everything the brand promised, functionally, philosophically, and aesthetically. A striking palette of bold graphics to reflect the bold journalism captures the energy and forward-thinking nature of the brand, while experiential visual elements—including brackets that open up to reveal more stories—enhance its storytelling across platforms, including mobile.

The tech-driven social news site, which formally launched in October 2013, champions “citizen journalism” as a new consumer experience. Its brand promise: “Vocativ lets you report, share, and discuss the stories that matter to you on the issues that impact us all.” At a time when Pew and other researchers show that trust in the news media is dismally low, particularly among youths and millennials, Vocativ gives readers all over the world the tools and opportunities they need to uncover the truth—and remind us all that what we say matters.