More 4′s rebrand was launched a couple of weeks ago, and having given it a little time to sink in, we wanted to take a look at how it is shaping up.
Since the channels launch in 2005, More 4 has been represented by the bold, minimal identity created by Spin. This identity set out to give Channel 4 a more mature outlet on which to broadcast some of its more intellectually invigorating shows. The identity fit the bill perfectly, highlighting the channel as grown up yet forward thinking.
However, as Chris Wood, 4Creative’s head of on-air promotions for More4, says, the focus of the channel has changed over the years and the identity needed to reflect this change,
“The original branding of More4 was very bold and uncompromising. The colourways and graphic look gave the channel a unique ‘grown up’ look that worked perfectly with the original content and ambitions. However, over the years the content of the channel has shifted and with the plans to launch the upcoming ‘scrapbook’ service, it was felt it was time to redress the gap between the channel branding and channel content.”
With this change of emphasis in mind, a new identity indeed seems appropriate, and whilst we love the identity that has been synonymous with More 4 for 7 years, it stands to reason that a channel that prides itself on being progressive should embrace change and continue to push things forward.
Enter Man vs Machine, the studio commissioned to successfully reposition the channels visual language. The new logo (14 coloured triangles forming a number ’4′), is more than slightly reminiscent of the original channel 4 logo (circa 1982). The broad, striking colour palette used in this logo, appears to be a statement of intent from More 4. Whereas the identity from Spin was very smart but serious in its restrictive use of colour, the new logo screams vibrancy and ‘freshness’ in a way that suddenly makes the former identity seem a little safe…something I never thought I would say about a piece of work which I like so much. Like all cultural tends, we look backwards to move forwards and it appears that this colour palette, that borrows heavily from the companies beginnings, helps reignite some of the sentiment of forward thinking that was at the heart of Channel 4 when it was first launched in 1982.
The logo itself appears quite straight forward on first glance, and whilst inoffensive (apart from the slightly uneasy ‘E’ hanging off the end), it seems if anything to be a little unspectacular. The familiar shape of the ’4′, overlaid with type, is a comfortable sight for the viewer, and this seems to be the anchor that helps bridge the gap of the rebrand.
As with any identity, it is going to be the logo that people will inevitably think of and discuss, however, as we all know, that is only a starting point, from which to build an intricate visual language. It is at this point, that the new More4 identity begins to become much richer and reveals the logic behind the look of the static logo.
When animated, the triangles open up to a seemingly endless series of shapes and patterns. Their movement mimics the turning of a page, again a possible hint that the channel is moving on and ‘turning over a new leaf.’ The patterns form the basis of the new indents and programme information bars, and help reinforce the channels new look. This extended use of the triangle as a graphic device helps the identity take another small step in a new direction.
A further use of the ‘moving flippers’ is the live action indents. Set in locations from cafes, to forests to deserted beaches, Man vs Machine created moving installations made up of over 400 individually crafted triangles. Apart from creating pleasing visuals as the various colours come and go, this outcome gives the whole identity a more human tangibility. As Chris Wood explains, this was another aspect of the channel that they were keen to convey:
“A lot of More4′s programming is about making things,” Wood adds, “so we in turn wanted to physically build these idents, construct them and film them in real locations, rather than computer generating all the magic in post-production. I think the installations we eventually came up with subtly reinforce the new look but offer a satisfying spontaneity which, I hope, will make them continually watchable .”
The effect is well delivered and transports a nice yet uninspiring logo to a well crafted, appropriate and human identity. The original identity will always remain a great piece of graphic design, but when viewed as a whole, the work produced by Man vs Machine has created a new tone for the channel that reflects its changing goals and outlook.
We look forward to seeing how the identity develops as time goes on, but in a world where the word ‘rebrand’ is so often associated with cringes (see Gap), it is refreshing to see a well consider approach that retains enough of its past to maintain integrity, whilst helping the channel define a new direction for the future.