The challenges faced by traditional broadcasters amid the ever-expanding world of streaming have been laid bare in recent years. Following a period of soul-searching about its own role in British media and culture, ITV has announced the launch of ITVX – the UK’s first integrated advertising and subscription platform.
An advertiser-funded, free-to-watch streaming service, it replaces the brand’s previous on-demand platform, ITV Hub. But in a change of approach, the broadcaster is adopting a digital-first strategy, premiering much of its new content first on ITVX and subsequently months later on linear channels. Viewers can also expect livestreamed events, a rotating library of movies, themed channels and thousands of box sets.
Having decided to launch a new, expanded streaming service, ITV recognised the need for a revitalised brand fit for the future of entertainment. Led by DixonBaxi and ITV Creative, the new brand seeks to create a seamless experience across both broadcast and streaming, breaking the silos between traditional and digital formats.
The rebrand includes revamped identities for five ITV channels and for the newly launched ITVX, positioning the digital-first ecosystem as a “cultural destination for the UK”, according to DixonBaxi.
The agency began the process by taking road trips across the UK and asking the public what being British means to them. “What surfaced was a wild mix of identities and takes on Britishness both positive and negative,” says the agency. “The undefinable nature of modern Britain became a central part of the strategy behind the brand, informing the experience principles that drive the whole system.”
The brand name and identity for ITVX are rooted in a desire to shift public perception of ITV and break streaming’s visual sea of sameness. DixonBaxi and ITV Creative deliberately chose to avoid the ‘plus’ naming convention popular in streaming, instead rotating that symbol 45 degrees to become an ‘X’.
The X is brought to life in motion through a series of echo effects that link the identity together, while everything from advertising and social to broadcast will drive viewers to the new streaming destination. The brand’s tone of voice is also intended to create moments of surprise and delight for viewers, inspired by the wit of modern Britain.
The design principles used for the ITVX brand extends to ITV’s five channels, making the identity feel cohesive but also allowing each of the channels to have a distinct personality. The dynamic X symbol, for example, directly links the streaming and broadcast worlds by transforming and flickering between channels.
DixonBaxi collaborated with F37 Foundry to create a bespoke suite of typefaces in a range of weights and widths which prioritise accessibility and expressiveness. ITV Display Serif is inspired by historical British typography such as William Caslon’s foundry, while ITV Display Sans is sharp and modern with a few anomalies to add extra character, and ITV Sans Text is a utilitarian typeface.
Refreshed broadcast palettes also aim to bring new personality to their respective channels, while the ITVX core colour palette features a bright yellow and a deep blue – designed to stand out everywhere from billboards to online.
DixonBaxi and ITV Creative also collaborated with the Futz Butler to develop the sonic identity for ITVX and five of the network’s channels. The ITVX mnemonic is drawn from an unexpected set of source materials, including recordings of sugar being dropped on balloons, a choir built from iPhone voice notes, and a Finnish zither run through a VHS player.
Accompanying the visual and sonic identities is a launch campaign for the new brand, created by Uncommon Creative Studio and starring Matthew Macfadyen, Helena Bonham Carter and John Boyega. The celeb-laden series of ads consists of sharp-witted comedy sketches which are set in a rehearsal room, as the talent is tasked with improvising various ways to bring the UK’s “freshest streaming service” to life.