The Mixcloud rebrand by Studio Output visualises the connecting power of music

The graphic designers have created a responsive visual language for the audio streaming platform, bringing to life the “i” in its wordmark through animation.

18 February 2020


Mixcloud launched ten years ago, and still carries weight in the music streaming world with tens of millions of creators and listeners, and a catalogue of 50 million radio shows, mixes and podcasts. Yet with a shifting purpose in a crowded market, and its move into teenage years, the brand needed a rejig, which has been delivered with a punch by London-based Studio Output.

With a core concept designed to “emotionally connect with sound,” the designers have used the “i” in the Mixcloud name to embody this connection, wiggling, stretching and undulating like sound waves in the word mark and across the identity.

The connector reflects “the fluidity of cultures and countercultures,” Output’s Johanna Drewe tells It’s Nice That. “It amplifies communities on and offline, moving restlessly through imagery and connecting genres, topics and experiences. Combining the brand connector with a distinctive new typeface means imagery can do less of the talking. It gives Mixcloud a responsive brand language across all of its platforms.”

The word mark is based on the typeface Neue Machina by Pangram Pangram, to which Output has added “quirky flourishes,” Drewe says, “like ink traps and kicks, rotating the ‘I’ to create the connector device and visualise the idea of mixing. In animations, it expands out to do different jobs, communicating the brand’s characteristics of ‘brave, empathetic and connecting’”. Output also adapted Neue Machina to create Sine Sans, a headline font for Mixcloud, adding unique characters and new ligatures.

“The spirit of the connector creates a personality that can be really flamboyant, amplifying the characteristics of music and genres. But it can be quite straight when it needs to be,” Drewe explains of the connector as a useful graphic device. “By joining letterforms beyond standard ligatures, some characters can be connected again and again. This makes it really easy to create an expression around a particular genre or theme.”

After spending its first decade building the platform and its devoted community, Mixcloud’s current mission is to get more fans directly supporting the creators and cultures it cares about. Having led the way in paying artists, songwriters and rights-holders royalties from DJ mixes and radio shows, in 2018, it launched Select, a direct fan-to-creator membership model. In January 2020, it then launched Loud, a brand consultancy led by Kazim Rashid and Ben Lawrence, whose client roster already includes Adidas and W Hotels, showing the company is diversifying further, Drewe says, and “the brand that got Mixcloud here wasn’t going to take it there”.

The new branding needed to embody the company’s values, of course, yet also demonstrate a step-change that “creates distinction in a crowded market… to serve today’s audio creators, with a firm eye on tomorrow’s.”

Output has redesigned everything from the full logo and app icon, in static and animated forms, to the headline typeface and typography system across the web and product, colour and photography systems, and a brand film. Once the identity was taking shape, Output’s team worked closely with the Mixcloud team to visualise how the brand might inform the brand’s products.

Part of the new visual language is a colour system that dispenses with the old blue and white brand colours and defines specific colour pairings for the in-house designers to deploy. The studio also made a system for using a vast bank of user-generated imagery and photography across different genres and themes, which “heroes the creator and listener,” Drewe says, and embraces the rawness of some of the imagery, rather than working against it. And, as part of its entire strategy, Output has also given the company design guidelines for using the identity now, as well as how it might evolve in the future.

GalleryStudio Output: Mixcloud rebrand

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Studio Output: Mixcloud rebrand

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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