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In the moment: AP Style and Design

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One of the strongest and most valuable brands in
the world.
Today, the Associated Press is one of the leading
breaking news sources for the world. This is clearly defined by the fact that
AP considers 48 hour-old news as archival. This place of trust in our lives has
been earned by a brand that embodies the idea of getting it right the first
time. It is also earned by those who risk their lives in situations where
bullets are as common as Starbucks cups are here.
Freedom of the press is a foundational element of
any free culture on the planet. Yet, obtaining news is not free. It has a value
in lives lost and hidden stories uncovered. The AP brand has nearly as much
history as the United States of America, starting in 1846 as five daily
newspapers in New York got together to share the cost of transmitting news. The
history also goes back to Mark Kellogg in 1876 being the first AP news
correspondent killed while reporting the news and all the way forward to Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed by Afghan police earlier this
month. 
Just as freedom is not free, news is not free.
 
It is hard to associate the idea of
"brand" with such an authentic organization, but the AP is a trusted
brand. This challenging perception is only because we associate
"brand" with consumable products pitched to us by puffery,
advertising and hidden truth. This is in such dramatic contrast with what the
AP is, getting to the truth at great costs. But if you have a modern
understanding of a strong brand, you know the smallest gap between truth and
reality contributes to the strongest brands. So while advertising often
leverages puffery and over-promises, the AP has built a brand on the noble
effort of uncovering the truth and telling stories with impeccable accuracy.
 
This means you could say the AP is one of the
strongest brands in the world. 
Now, consider what is spent to build a brand in
our society. If you take a modern approach to brands, you know it goes far
beyond advertising or promotional budgets. And, you likely know a brand like
Starbucks builds a valuable brand by designing an engaging experience around a
legally obtainable stimulant. Hence, the entire store operations budget each
year is spent on building the Starbucks brand. So what price has been paid to
build the Associated Press brand? They have had 32 staffers killed in action
over 168 years of AP history. Globally, 1,054 reporters and photojournalists havegiven their lives since 1992. Either number, the price is immeasurable and
certainly far beyond any operating budget or advertising spend for any brand on
the planet. 
Therefore, you could say the AP is one of the
most valuable brands in the world. 
The strongest and most valuable brand in the
world is run by a not-for-profit organization. This immensely powerful brand is
designed for good, truth and the distribution of knowledge. 
This is why when we talked with Mike Bowser, the
AP Director of Branding and Creative Services, we were grateful to hear his
thoughtful approach to building the brand. He talked about the evolution of
news reporting, photojournalism and the vast amount of archival news the AP has
to offer brands. And, the conversation afterward confirmed that Mike was the
right person to lead the effort to clearly define the AP brand. Trust in
delivering an accurate account was paramount to Mike and speaking to only what
he new with great confidence as essential.
Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to inform
the FUSE audience. We look forward to future conversations you will design for
audiences.   
Where many brands are built on a false promise,
the AP brand is built on accuracy, FIRST. 
Managing Principal

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