4creative has teamed with Pentagram to launch a significant overhaul of Channel 4. It marks a major switch from the identity established eight years ago when DBLG, Jonathan Glazer and Neville Brody broke down the original Lambie-Nairn logo into broken blocks for the very first time. Now, the channel is going a different way, using a redrawn version of the original mark as a visual anchor, unifying 4’s streaming service and slew of sub brands.
Some things however are consistent in Channel 4’s approach; just like in 2015, the full might of the creative industry has been summoned to work on the project. With Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell heading work on the masterbrand with 4Creative, Found has delivered the on-screen presentation, Siren and Factory has worked on sound and music design, Stink Studios on social, NaN provide typography, and Art Practice and Time Based Arts have collaborated on the idents.
The overhaul is all in service of keeping up with the changed world of broadcasters in the age of streaming and social media, meaning some of the biggest changes revolve around enabling the brand to live successfully across these platforms.
The core changes on an asset-level include the new masterbrand colour – a vibrant green – and expansion of Neville Brody’s font family to include variable condensed and extended styles. Just as the Lambie-Nairn logo takes centre stage after sitting in the corners of posters, ad campaigns and sub-brands for eight years, the original Lambie-Nairn motion has also been re-introduced. While many of the assets return to existing iterations of the Channel 4 brand, “from a design system and visual language perspective, everything has changed in support of the transformation”, says Luke.
The driving idea behind the wider identity is the creation of a universe that the 4 mark travels through – a release refers to this space as “Altogether Different”, in reference to Channel 4’s “fearless, sometimes mischievous, brand heritage”. This universe is constructed from a range of immersive gradients in a cube-based framework, chosen for their ability to be neutral but expressive enough to suit Channel 4’s content. This system becomes a canvas for programming menus and narrative idents coming to life with motion, like when we see separate cubes being stitched together – “a functional tool to showcase what’s on next,” says a release.
A set of “4mojis” have also been integrated within the brand typeface. “The ‘4mojis’ came from the practical position that C4 needed a unified icon language that could translate to anything from digital applications on their player to signage within the office,” says Luke. The resulting icons attempt to provide both “functionality and mischievousness”.
Luke sums up the work: “The ask to work on a brand that is inherently rebellious and unapologetically creative, but also in need of cohesion and clarity across its channels and platforms, could seem contradictory. However, embracing this duality, the masterbrand system we’ve created unifies where it needs to, but encourages expression the rest of the time. Channel 4 is now set up with a principles-based system that can guide outputs across all of their shows, channels, collections and partnerships today, as well as preparing it for a rapidly evolving and unpredictable future.”
GalleryPentagram / 4creative: Channel 4, sound by Factory and Siren, on-screen presentation by Found, social by Stink Studios, idents by Art Practice and Time Based Arts (Copyright © 4creative / Pentagram, 2023)
Pentagram / 4creative: Channel 4, sound by Factory and Siren, on-screen presentation by Found, social by Stink Studios, idents by Art Practice and Time Based Arts (Copyright © 4creative / Pentagram, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.