Disney’s young adult division, Freeform, takes a variable turn in Collins overhaul

After transitioning into a streaming-first platform in 2022, Freeform has a new purpose and look that uses a limitless, changing design to reflect its audience.

Date
9 March 2023

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Collins has recently launched its full rebrand of Freeform after audiences got their first look at the work in September 2022. The cable channel – Disney’s division for young adults and teens – has moved through a couple of design eras since rebranding from ABC Family to Freeform in 2016. This latest edition moves away from a circular logo, enclosing FF initials, to a variable typographic approach under Collins – a typeface which is “always in a state of becoming, like [Freeform’s] audience”, the design company’s case study explains.

Collins worked with leaders at Freeform to redefine its brand purpose. One of the major shifts was in perceptions around its young audience. “They’re not coming-of-age, but in a constant state of becoming – and want shows that help them expand their world, not escape from it,” Collins explains.

The design gives weight to this idea with a modernist typeface that appears to be constantly forming and re-imagining itself. Collins worked with Monotype to transform the original cut of Helvetica – Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann’s Neue Haas Grotesk. Across the brand, letterforms swivel and twist, a motion which is fully captured through animation but suggested even when static.

In an interview with Variety, content marketing senior VP, Joe Ortiz offered more context on this aspect last year. “What we started thinking about is shape and looking at that curvature and the implied motion,” Joe explains. “And so everything feels like even when it’s static, it’s moving or it’s about to move. Always at its heart, there’s the ability to change and an openness to change.” Ortiz added that the whole design system was built on the formation and curvature of the F letterform.

Collins draws parallels between the unexpected twists of the brand’s design and “any great story”, adding that Freeform “makes its name by backing young adult stories that buck tropes, flip scripts and curb such conventions”.

After two Freeform brand iterations that lean towards ocean blues and softer-edged design, the new work from Collins feels more grown up, in line with the more nuanced brand purpose that appears to give more agency to Freeform’s young audience. Collins also manages to work more energy and dynamism into this version, utilising palette pops of pinks and sharp expressive shapes.

GalleryCollins: Freeform (Copyright © Collins / Freeform, 2023)

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Collins: Freeform (Copyright © Collins / Freeform, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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