Design: Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes (UK)
Reuters was founded in London in 1851 by Paul Julius Reuter, who began dispatching information from one place to another by carrier pigeon. By the 1960s, Reuters was one of the world’s largest news services. As television was replacing newspapers as the most popular source of news, the company decided to have a new and distinctive face for their organisation.
In 1965, Alan Fletcher, then at Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes (the fore-runner of Pentagram), crafted an identity from the word ‘Reuters’ rendered in a basic grid of 87 dots to evoke the company’s trade. The dotted letterforms were inspired by the holes in teleprinter tape, which was then the primary medium for the global transfer of news reports.
The logotype is typical of Fletcher’s penchant for creating witty and elegant work – and is a testament to his conceptual timelessness. In fact nothing was as important to him as the idea. “Every job has to have an idea. Otherwise it would be like a novelist trying to write a book about something without really saying anything.” The logo, which survived some minor alterations over three decades, has long been touted as one of the most identifiable, evocative and enduring trademarks ever.
However, with the advent of the internet in the late 20th century, Reuters sought a redefinition of its brand. It embarked on transforming itself from a global news agency into a global business information provider. Central to this development was a subtle change to Fletcher’s logo and the addition of the day/night symbol (a roundel composed of dots), by Enterprise IG in 1996. Three years later, the dotted logotype was dropped completely and replaced with a solidified wordmark. Reuters explained that Fletcher’s logo “was too redolent of old-fashioned telex ticker-tape. Worse still it failed to stand out, particularly on video-screens...”
Many in the design community disagreed. According to Paul Postma, the axing of the dotted logotype was a shame. “They had a first-rate logo. Now, it is a compromise… it needs an extra element to say what previously it had said with just seven letters.”
In 2008, Reuters underwent another dramatic rebrand after it was acquired by Thomson to form Thomson Reuters. The new symbol, devised by Interbrand, is composed of a spiral of dots, and allegedly “leverages the equity of the Reuters dots.”