Discovering Discovery

With hundreds of channels on the EPG, television can be a very crowded place these days. Discovery Networks’ UK ECD Federico Gaggio talked to CR about the challenges for designers working on TV and the latest Discovery ‘refresh’

With hundreds of channels on the EPG, television can be a very crowded place these days. Discovery Networks’ UK ECD Federico Gaggio talked to CR about the challenges for designers working on TV and the latest Discovery ‘refresh’

Ever since Lambie-Nairn virtually invented the idea of broadcast branding on British TV in the 80s, things have become steadily more complex for anyone with a non-terrestrial subscription and, by extension, for the designers working on those channels. Not only are there multiple channels competing in similar areas – music, factual, comedy etc – but those channels may even be showing the same content. US science geek sitcom Big Bang Theory, for example, can currently be found both on E4 and Warner.

TV designers have to cope with both practical issues – how do viewers know what channel they’re on? – and branding issues – how do we establish a clear tone of voice amid all this clutter? Under Federico Gaggio’s creative direction, Discovery has fared better than most, utilising an impressive list of collaborators including Spin, Devilfish, Brothers and Sisters and Red Bee to pick up a host of Promax awards in recent years, but the challenges have been considerable. “It used to be a lot easier,” Gaggio admits. “Discovery was the first in that factual space which meant it didn’t need to make an effort in order to be found.”

Now, it must compete with the likes of National Geographic, the History Channel and a host of others. And because of the sequential nature of Electronic Programme Guides, with viewers flicking up and down the lists of grouped, similar content, many think they are viewing a Discovery channel when in fact they are watching a rival, he says. Things have been further clouded by the endless sub-channels that have proliferated recently – Discovery now has 13 channels including Discovery History and Discovery Science.

“Your success in creating loyalty depends on how well you deliver your branding,” Gaggio says. “People search for content but they do it in places that they feel an affinity with. If you can establish an emotional connection with your audience it might mean they will pay attention when you propose content: if that same content is on another channel, they won’t pay attention to it.”

Discovery History promo created with Brothers and Sisters

The prime tool for doing that is via idents which can fulfil that dual role of station identification and brand building. Discovery has previously based its idents around one of its key attributes – the fact that it makes its own content and has recognisable ‘stars’ such as Bear Grylls.

“We went down the route of focussing more on our content and making the association between the brand and its content clear,” Gaggio says. “We did that by getting rid of abstract idents and using the content as a branding device via show intros which featured a still of the show concerned – they were very useful for people using PVRs because when you are fast-forwarding you would know when to stop. It created a very effective package in terms of navigation and was very clear but became a bit cold and detached. We went a bit overboard, people might have missed visual presence of brand,” he admits.

Design and production: DoubleG Studios with Discovery UK Creative

In a ‘refresh’ from Grant Gilbert’s Double G Studios and Dixon Baxi, Discovery has sought to tackle this by introducing a new branding device – placing content from the shows within the globe of the networks’ logo and creating an abbreviated form of the logo using just the initial D of Discovery.

Design and production: DoubleG Studios with Discovery UK Creative

“We did a four-way pitch [for the refresh] and everyone came up with the same idea of putting content into the globe,” Gaggio says. “We’d always treated it as sacred before but it’s great to have a simpler symbol which we are now able to play with much more.”

Design and production: DoubleG Studios with Discovery UK Creative

See more from Discovery UK Creative here

 

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