The rebrand, which was created in-house by 4Creative, marks a significant move away from the network’s previous approach to its digital channels, which was to brand them as distinct from the main Channel 4. It has been prompted by the current climate of TV, explains Head of 4Creative, Alice Tonge.
“When the channels were all originally created, we made that conscious decision to make them all as individual, and it was really successful – they’re brands that everyone knows and loves,” she explains. “But we’re in a time where there’s more channels, more noise. We did a bit of research about 18 months ago, that showed that you needed more than just the number 4 to unite our brand family.
“The way in which people consume content these days is different,” she continues. “People talk about TV shows rather than TV channels. The branding and the packaging that sits around that is vital and where you can unite the brand message is really important.”
The hope is that the rebrand will allow Channel 4 to benefit more from its constituent parts, and Tonge cites the hugely successful film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a Film4 production, as an example of this. “You go to the screening and there’s a Film4 Productions ident to start with and nobody there, necessarily, knows that is a Channel 4 brand,” she says. “You instantly make the Channel 4 brand that more famous by just connecting all the dots.”
The logos for all the wider channels will now feature the classic 2D Lambie-Nairn Channel 4 logo as a backdrop to their individual names. To maintain consistency, they will retain other aspects of their individuality, in particular their established colour schemes and styling.
The shift in positioning is more successful in some of the logos than others, but Tonge cites E4 as being the one that caused the team the most headaches. In the end it was decided that the channel needed a whole new look.
“We’ve had the same logo [for E4] for 17 years and it’s done really well,” she says. “It was always seen as that emblem for young people to go to, to get away from the real world, it was always the witty, irreverent brother or sister to Channel 4. But in this day and age we have to connect it more with the mother brand.
“But the pure nature of that task means you come out with something a little bit more corporate,” she continues.”I think with E4 it’s the most challenging one out of all of them because the minute you put the Channel 4 logo in there somewhere, it feels a lot older and more mature.”
The solution was to turn the E into a “mischievous, rebellious character, that’s constantly trying to break free and rebel against its surroundings”.
4Creative has also created 19 new on-air E4 idents with various creative partners from across the UK, which will continue to be added to, with the hope that viewers will find something fresh and entertaining every time they watch the channel.
“It’s a world where you’ve got online, which is forever changing and is innovative, and you’ve got linear TV, which is often seen as a little like your mum, and boring,” says Tonge. “We approached it by creating this brand new identity that feels a lot less structured. We didn’t want to create a set of formulaic idents all along a similar theme, like every other channel was doing, like we’ve done on all of our other channels, we wanted it to feel much more eclectic than that.
“The idea is you turn on and it’s not feeling the same every ad break, you always get something different each time. I’ve always thought an ident is a chance, not just to remind people what channel you’re watching by flashing up a logo, but is a chance to tell people why they’re watching. This is really to entertain them, and not in a predictable way.”
ECD: Alice Tonge
Creative Directors: Dan Chase (More4 and Film4), Will Clark (E4)
Design Director: Tim Fellowes
Designers: Dan Bown, Patrick Carroll, Tim Fellowes, Brendon O’Dwyer, Kevin Price, Ben Smith
Design Agency: ManvsMachine
E4 Ident Directors: Elliot Dear, Blinkink (Space Station); Marcus Armitage, Studio AKA (New Breed); Kristian Andrews, Studio AKA (Chippy); H Block, Time Based Arts (Porkanism); Parabella, Blinkink (E4igy)