Branding agency DixonBaxi’s been busy creating a new identity for UKTV Yesterday, which is set to launch on July 24 as a design refresh for the history-focused channel. The notion of “entertainment inspired by history” sparked DixonBaxi to produce something that was vivid, immersive, and iconically strong.
Using the letter “Y” as its centrepiece and anchor, the new identity ensures that it can succeed in a range of guises – be it fire, forest, concrete, or lacquer – and exist in tandem with other content or as a stand-alone visual. Here, Aporva Baxi answers our questions about the project, and shows us images of the work as it happened.
You’ve produced brand new identities for numerous different channels now, how do you keep your approach to the work fresh?
We’ve actually developed over twenty channels – from MTV to VH1 to Movies Now in India and Kommersant in Russia, to major international channels for NBC Universal and, recently, UKTV Watch. For each we try to learn and develop something new and to figure out new ways of creating a seamless experience from the TV to off-air and mobile. Keeping fresh stems from the differences in content and the viewers, and of course a distinct positioning. There is always something that we try to make unique within each project – an idea, process, approach - and this then allows the work to remain fresh. We also like to collaborate with different artists and musicians to help that process feel different every time.
How do you go about giving a new personality to an already established brand?
Many times the brand we are working with has lost its way or is in need of new vision based on a business need, new content or product. So for us it’s about being really honest and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes going back to the beginning to ask why and then going through a strategic process which is still highly creative. Then working with the client to develop a new positioning, which we then bring to life.
Sometimes the client has already identified where they are going and it’s our job to challenge that and invent a way to make this feel distinct. It stems from a simple, but strong idea that binds the brand and we typically start with a tone of voice. Language that starts to become a visual, aural, tactile expression. And we try to do that in such a way that there is a powerful visual force to the look.
Do you think you’ve become the go-to guys for TV channel branding?
It seems that way of late and we’re certainly enjoying the projects. But there are others that are doing excellent work in this space.
What are the challenges of creating work for a universal audience?
The hardest thing is to find what is unique about the brand and then be very focussed in delivering that. (It’s easier to be generic when talking to a broad audience.) But that is the aim of any good branding. In our case we try to deliver a distinct attitude and voice – not just a look. With many of the channels we make it’s about creating a narrative experience that feels immersive and true to the content. When the programming and tone of voice of the channel are truly aligned the result is a much more entertaining and engaging experience – moving from a channel to a brand which people come back to.
Why did you decide to make the “Y” three-dimensional?
We wanted to create a logo that felt as if it could have been made by civilisations past and we wanted something sculptural. An object rather than a graphic. Something iconic, pure and with presence. It was also about transforming the Yesterday brand and giving it a scale and power it lacked. While developing the identity we had always envisioned fabricating it out of different materials. The facets also create strong areas of light and shade and this is a subtle reference to how sunlight and shadow moves across similar iconic objects, buildings and monuments.
The audio experience in the spots is incredibly powerful, talk us though how you went about producing it?
We loved creating the audio for these idents. In this case the sound design is really important in providing a context to the action. We wanted the audio to feel cinematic and unlike typical channel audio which tends to sometimes be quite passive.
We used a combination of dramatic almost hyper real sound design and music that adds weight and warmth. We started with the “Action” ident as we had a very clear idea of what this should feel like. We wanted the viewer to be immersed in the action – to be thrown head first into a warzone. We referenced the famous Saving Private Ryan beach scene as well as moments of sound design in the Hurt Locker to give us inspiration for the multi-layered explosions, gun shots, ricochets that are mixed into our sound design. Sounds were stretched and panned across to give a wider panorama to the experience. We worked with Massive Music to build these narratives and did that in live sessions to sculpt the best picture and sound design integration. Giving each ident distinctive texture.
For example, for the “Mystery” ident we wanted it to feel like uncovering an ancient tomb combined with the monolithic quality of the obelisk in 2001. “Forest” required a calmer, warmer approach. This helped differentiate the idents and let us work with the range of themes within the programming. Lastly, “Flame” needed to capture an immersive feeling of fire at the centre of man’s evolution and industry.
What’s the “Y” made from?
We were keen to make the “Y” feel like it had be hewn and crafted from solid materials. As if by artisans from another time. We worked with model makers Einsteins Octopus and looked at lots of materials that might work. Ultimately we settled on a set of four that worked with our theme for each ident. So for “Flame” we used copper sheeting folded around a computer cut “Y” which was then painted green, aged and distressed. The other “Y’s” were made from a solid piece of American Oak, another from concrete – the mixture of which was tested to provide the best explosive dust and debris. The fourth “Y” was made from a japanese lacquer effect which was produced using layers of lacquer and crackle glaze.
As each “Y” was to be filmed very close up they had to look perfect and so each was crafted as a beautiful object in its own right. Seeing them finally made really brought essence of the logo to life – a sculptural, iconic object that could have been made by civilisations past which has now been unearthed.