Kristeligt Dagblad


by Ole Munk; published 15 May 2012
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Ribergaard & Munk have been working with the design of Kristeligt Dagblad (the Christian Daily) since 2004. The design concept has been developed step-by-step, following the editorial development of the newspaper. Here’s the story of a relationship which has by now lasted for almost ten years.

When 35-year-old Erik Bjerager became the editor-in-chief of Kristeligt Dagblad in 1994, circulation had dropped to 14,147 – a post-war low – and bankruptcy seemed a very real threat to the 98-year-old newspaper.
However, the young editor managed to initiate an editorial rejuvenation process in which he widened the publicistic focus of the newspaper. Rather than being a publication for people devoted strictly to christianity, Kristeligt Dagblad expanded its target group to everyone who paid attention to ethical questions and beliefs in general, and ten years later, the payoff The Newspaper About Life’s Great Questions was well earned.

During that same period, the visual appearance of the paper had been maintained and gradually adjusted by design director Leif Petersen but by now, the editorial changes were so many and so fundamental that the time seemed ripe for a more radical makeover.
Erik Bjerager contacted Ribergaard & Munk in the spring of 2004 and we started working together on a redesign which was launched half a year later.

Kristeligt Dagblad is a so-called ”niche paper”. People who subscribe to Kristeligt Dagblad are generally heavy readers and book consumers.
With the 2004 redesign, we introduced Scala as the paper’s new headline face. Our intention was to provide Kristeligt Dagblad with more distinction and character as well as adding a classical, ”literaturish” flavour to the paper.

Optimizing the body text has been an essential part of our work with developing and refining the design of Kristeligt Dagblad.
The object has been two-sided: Obviously, legibility has to have top priority – but space economy has been important as well, as we are dealing with a publication which must be able to print lengthy articles without having to turn every page into a desert of grey text.

Consequently, and much against the trend within the newspaper industry, the body text of Kristeligt Dagblad has shrunk instead of growing.
In 2004, we went from Times 10/11 to Quadraat 9.8/10.74, and in the recent redesign, leading has been further reduced. What’s important is that legibility has not suffered at all; in fact, reading the paper has become easier. The trick is to work with the white space, utilizing it to increase contrast.

With the 2004 makeover, Kristeligt Dagblad launched a new Friday section called Liv&Sjael (Life & Soul).
We introduced a special ”burgundy” colour which would become, together with the consistent use of all-caps headlines, the signature of this part of the paper.

Kristeligt Dagblad is a newspaper in constant motion, and almost every year since 2004, Ribergaard & Munk have given shape to new initiatives along with adjustments of the basic design.

In 2007, a Saturday Books & Culture section was launched, and one year later came the calendar section Kirku.
Also in 2008, the op-ed pages got a totally new look. Having been a rather grey part of the newspaper, they turned into perhaps the most lively and contrastful pages of the entire publication.

In the fall of 2011, editor-in-chief Erik Bjerager and his co-managers decided that the time was ripe for rethinking the whole KD concept.
We initiated a series of get-togethers with rather open agendas, discussing form as well as content without needing to worry about which was which.

Our meetings, and the parallel work with design and editorial development, led to a newspaper concept which was launched 10 February 2012.

On the visual side, Kristeligt Dagblad has become cleaner, lighter, and more consistent.
The typographical toolbox is completely new, based on Meta Serif which is used for both body text and headlines. A new Light version of Meta Serif was created specifically for Kristeligt Dagblad by the design company of Erik Spiekermann. Two other typeface families are accompanying Meta Serif: TheSans and Cordale, the latter being used for the new KD nameplate.

A new frontpage concept and an innovative use of promos and teasers are key elements in the relaunched Kristeligt Dagblad. Besides a ”regular” top news story, every frontpage is going to reflect the diversity of this very special publication by exposing promos as well as full stories which might not make their way to a traditional newspaper front page, such as analysis, reviews, opinion pieces, and interviews.
Readers will recognize the distinctive frontpage design elements throughout the paper as modular promo boxes are being used to ”streamline” the editorial space, promoting content at the same time as they facilitate clear and inviting page design.

Readers have responded well to the new Kristeligt Dagblad and the newspaper is now more popular than ever before. In a 2012 reader survey, more than 95 percent of the respondents said that they were ”satisfied” or ”very satisfied” with the newspaper, and almost 60 percent were in the latter category.
In 2011, circulation had grown to 26,631 copies, almost twice the figures of 1994, and the daily readership is 115,000.

Click on the image to see a whole paper in pdf format (2.9 Mb).