The Big Issue refresh refashions the brand’s “most recognisable asset” – the Big Issue brick

Bringing fresh depth to Matt Willey’s 2021 type for the brand, JKR stresses the Big Issue’s dimensionality as more than just a magazine.

27 June 2022

Think back to November 2021; you might remember Pentagram partner Matt Willey and New York Times art director Mark Neil renewing the look of The Big Issue magazine. If you don’t, we’ll have to assume you didn’t see the typographic treatment for the project – a memorable chunky offering from Diana Ovezea and Willey which undoubtedly underlined the “big” in the institution’s name. Now, we have a follow up design from Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR), which lets us see the typeface from a whole new angle – quite literally. The rebrand, with its intuitive use of perspective and motion design, is placing depth and dynamism first and foremost on the project.

So how do you work alongside a recently – and brilliantly – completed refresh while delivering something new? Firstly, unlike last year’s design work, the new identity from JKR isn’t for The Big Issue publication, instead it’s for the wider Big Issue Group. While the publication is perhaps what the group has been, up until now, best known for, it sits alongside four other incredible enterprises from the organisation, including: Big Issue Invest, Big Issue E-Bikes, Big Issue Foundation and Big Issue Shop. Like many rebrands, establishing and publicising the brand’s dimensionality is one of the main driving forces behind the work:

“Most people readily associate the Big Issue with marginalised people selling a magazine on the streets,” Paul Cheal, CEO of Big Issue Group, explains in a release. “But there is so much more to the Big Issue. [...] From our work in the social investment sector through Big Issue Invest, supporting more than 500 social enterprises since 2005 to new partnerships such as the launch of a fleet of Big Issue eBikes in Bristol to create jobs in local communities for marginalised people.”

With a new five-year strategy, the Big Issue hopes to bring all their work together. Of course, the new work from JKR plays a crucial role in “driving awareness of the brand’s multiple social enterprise pillars”, says Jay Hussain, creative director at JKR. Design-wise, the brand is becoming more dynamic – harnessing motion design and immersive typography to elevate the type work Willey and Ovezea already supplied. Secondly, the brand is transforming one of its most recognisable symbols, the Big Issue brick into a “distinctive language of extrusion and 3D building blocks”, says Jay.

As for uniting each social enterprise of the group, JKR has developed a unique sub-identity for each of the programmes; each set has its own colour, icon and kinetic behaviour in motion. The brand’s overall signature red also sees a bold update, while photography is utilised to convey elevation with camera angles.

JKR received support from leading agencies FCB Inferno, 10up, December19, Rocketmill, Kokoro and Bold to roll out the rebrand, which launches today (27 June).

GalleryJKR: The Big Issue Group (Copyright © The Big Issue Group, 2022)

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JKR: The Big Issue Group (Copyright © The Big Issue Group, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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