Toronto Star

A vision for a new subscriber experience

Customer Experience
Visual Identity

With increasing competition for attention, the Star needed to develop a strong bond with its readership through a more considered brand experience. We developed a vision for a unified set of experience principles which all teams could align around and an ideal future state experience that could engineer value back into the product.


Quality reporting presented in a utilitarian way, makes digital news feel like a commodity. Cluttered layouts, text heavy articles with multiple recommendations boxes interrupting the reading experience, inconsistent use of colours, photography and illustration, makes the product feel cheap, readers price sensitive and ultimately more resistant to pay for a news subscription. 

To transform the relationship the Toronto Star had with its non-paying readers - from transactional to something deeper - we challenged ourselves to re-imagine what a more unique and premium Star experience could be.



We began by asking ourselves some simple questions. What would a news experience worth paying for look like? And what would happen if we applied some of the best practices from successful online only subscription services - like Spotify and Netflix - to the Star?

Four principles defined our work:

1. Cross platform

We needed to break down silos and create a seamless experience across  platforms - from podcasts to the print product. 

2. End-to-end

Subscribing to the Star should feel special. And the experience should get better once you’ve joined the club.

3. Premium

Thoughtful design executed consistency and coherently engineers value back into the product, reducing price sensitivity.

4. Human

Most news brands fail to speak to younger readers in a language they can understand. We needed to drop the jargon.


New homepage
The homepage of the website is a marquee touchpoint that allows us to optimize typographic conventions.


Print paper and magazine
Treating print as a more elevated experience for those that like spending time with a physical medium, endears the brand to its most faithful subscribers.

Messaging on most paywalls are often curt, functional and lacking inn charm. Instead of simply presenting a price and a demand to pay, we would use personal appeals that spoke to our reporters truths.


Mobile Apps
We considered aspects of growth for the business that are also a bit more tricky for a brand to live in.

The ribbon wordmark is iconic and enjoys widespread recognition in the Greater Toronto Area. We simplified its treatment and devised a rational treatment to its resizing.

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