MultiAdaptor’s identity for YouTube Space uses the playbar as a visual thread
Aimed at video creators with over 10k subscribers, the platform’s branding puts makers front and centre, aiming to feel as if it’s “always in motion”.
- Jenny Brewer
- 4 November 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
A billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every day by a third of internet users, created by millions of video makers around the world. If you are one of those creators and you are successful enough to attain over 10,000 subscribers, you unlock a host of services as part of YouTube Space, where the company helps you improve your channel with access to film studios, co-working spaces and equipment, and links with industry experts and brands. There are seven permanent spaces around the world, as well as touring pop-ups and online services. Until now, though, the sub-brand didn’t have its own identity. So London-based graphic design studio MultiAdaptor was briefed to create a design system that simultaneously stood out from other YouTube branding while remaining visually linked to the master brand, to capitalise on its credibility.
The brief to MultiAdaptor was to “drive a sense of excitement and aspiration” among creators and brands, and to create a flexible identity that could stay fresh and varied. The studio has tapped into a key but subtle element of the YouTube experience, the playbar – the little red line at the bottom of a video that tracks your viewing – to use as a ribbon through the identity, and create a sense that the branding is “always in motion” even in static images.
“It’s an iconic component of the main online YouTube experience,” creative director Ben Brookbanks tells It’s Nice That, “but set free from its usual position at the bottom of a video player UI, it becomes a distinctive and ownable asset of the YouTube Space brand.” It always moves from left to right, and “weaves and flows” through imagery and footage, creating a “visual thread that doesn’t dominate the identity or distract from the content,” Brookbanks continues. “So it is ever-present and constantly interacting with layouts, but it isn’t the focus.” On a more conceptual level, he says the playbar “conveys the idea of the rapid progression of the creators that YouTube Space supports”.
The typography uses the boldest weight of YouTube Sans, the brand’s own typeface, to adeptly navigate that tricky balance of staying on-brand while differentiating YouTube Space as its own entity. It also helps to convey that aforementioned sense of excitement the brief called for. “Copy is an important element of the brand, but often it is more functional, such as listings or announcements, so we wanted the type to bring an emotive and expressive quality through its creative treatment,” Brookbanks says. The type style uses a mix of filled and outlined characters, especially in animations, intended to subtly reference the idea of stage lights flickering into life. It is also used to fill frames and sometimes cropped, to give a sense it is appearing and disappearing from view, tying into the “always in motion” design principle.
The use of photography and footage was important to the identity, as MultiAdaptor looked to put the creators front and centre and reflect the energy inside the YouTube Spaces. “YouTube Space exists for a much tighter audience than the core brand, and it serves a different purpose in their lives,” Brookbanks says. Hoping to connect with the aspirations of these high-performing video creators and brands, the studio carefully chose YouTube brand assets that presented a more sophisticated and premium look. “It had to differentiate, to signal that the offer isn’t for everyone – we wanted there to be an element of exclusivity about everything.”
Hence the studio created a framework for imagery and footage, built on three pillars: people, place and tools. By sticking to this, the agency says imagery will “put the experience of members at the heart of the brand”. “It’s about the making of the content, not the end result,” Brookbanks says. Imagery is used in an “immersive” way with lots of clear space around it, adding to the “elevated” feel of the brand, he adds, with graphic elements taking a back seat, not crowding the focal images. Similarly, the colour palette uses the core brand tones of red, white and black, paired with a few secondary colours from the master palette picked for their “premium” feel and warmth.
Overall, the studio wanted to create a sense of ownership for creators, to show that YouTube is “defined by the people who create the content” and YouTube Space is the supporting role bringing everything together.
GalleryMultiAdaptor: YouTube Space identity (© YouTube Space, 2020)
MultiAdaptor: YouTube Space identity (© YouTube Space, 2020)