NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” Rebranded by Grad Mike Casebolt

Branding is a very specific type of design. You’re essentially trying to distill a company’s services and philosophies into a single image which is both artistic and memorable. It’s difficult but incredibly rewarding work when you’re able to deliver a successful vision, something that’s evident in Mike Casebolt’s recent rebranding efforts for NPR’s radio series “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.”

Mike is a 2008 graduate of the Digital Arts & Design program, and works out of Boulder, Colorado as a freelance artist, as well as art director for InterMundo Media (IMM). He was approached by NPR in late 2012 and spent nine months on the project, competing against a handful of other designers who were also pitching concepts.

“I thought their offer was spam at first because it was NPR, and I’ve always listened to that show and loved it – but it turned out they were really looking to rebrand it,” Mike says. “They had a few other designers submitting as well, and finally they chose my work. It was a great experience, and one of the biggest things I’d ever worked on at that point.”

After being selected Mike worked closely with NPR’s in-house team, as well as people from the show, to hone the new look. Over a period of a few months he delivered 14 individual logos before they settled on the final version – a rolled up newspaper as an exclamation point. As he explained, it was a slow evolution of trying to find the right image to represent the show and its ideals.

“There was a strive to make an icon that can live on its own and have people know what it is,” he says. “Since they always recap the top news stories the idea popped in my head of a rolled up newspaper, and I went from there. I’m really proud of it.”

The resulting logo is memorable in its simplicity and visual impact – conveying the “Wait Wait” brand and attitude without verbalization. Mike is obviously happy with the results, and looks back at the opportunity as a lesson for designers to always be aware of the reach of their work.

“It was a learning experience because I was going up against some top designers, so it was very humbling,” he says. “I think what it taught me is that you never know who’s looking at your stuff out there, and I never would have gotten this opportunity if I didn’t have an online outlet for my personal and professional art. I use Dribble to post my work, and it’s a great way for me to keep current. You have to stay relevant, and this helped remind me of that.”