by Bobby Hougham | MAY-JUNE, 2019

Each June, network marketing departments, agencies and design studios come together to celebrate, discuss, dissect and award entertainment promotion and broadcast design at Promax’s North American conference. Network branding campaigns carry audiences on a journey that supports their entertainment offering, be it a live event or binge-worthy series. For the everyday viewer, they are connective tissue — mostly taken for granted. But for networks and entertainment content providers, they are vital to communicating something larger in a world of fractured audiences. And for studios like ours, these campaigns stretch our imagination and technical experience in a good way, like preparing for a marathon.

Campaigns for the CMA Fest and ABC are examples of the varying style, scale, and scope involved in the process of a design-driven approach for entertainment. Two vastly different projects, united in a similar mission: to be as bold as the content each brand presents, and link the presenter and presentation in the minds of audiences. They are two examples of how entertainment providers and design companies collaborate to find that resonant voice that calls out to viewers…or sing out, as the case may be.

When it came to the CMA Fest rebrand, in many ways we were tasked with developing a new visual vernacular for mainstream country. The New Blank’s research had shown that mainstream country had lost its way when it came to identity. There was a lot of borrowing from conventional rock as well as a grasping of country tropes that were simultaneously being rejected (think old trucks, denim, split level dresses surrounded by Helvetica Neue Ultra Thin). The look The New Blank designed for the CMA Fest spoke to the direction popular country was headed while reinforcing the celebratory attitude of the festival.

The CMA Fest rebrand assets we created lived within print posters and maps, while extending to broadcast, stage backdrops, 75-foot video walls and Instagram-ready areas. The result of the work was a refreshed brand across all channels; enhancing the customer experience in print, digital, social, and broadcast.

CMAfest Key Art

The 2018 ABC network rebrand was developed around a “show forward” approach, where design — inspired by the ABC logo and letterforms — would serve as both a through-line and visual complement to the inclusive slate of programming. An essential foundation to its creation was the ability to flex between program genres and different formats, daytime versus nighttime, along with print and digital extensions.

Working hand-in-hand with ABC, we developed assets that could be customized to match the typography as well as the primary and secondary colors of individual shows, while leveraging layouts and animations from the network branding. Overarchingly, the animation is deliberate in emphasizing the genres it is paired with, for any screen and presentation — from mobile to broadcast. It offers a frame for the network’s content, from daytime to primetime, as the gold standard of entertainment.

On-demand content, in particular, means creating a brand image for channels — and by that we mean any platform where content can be experienced — that helps drive consumer loyalty. So that people want to attend, play, tune-in, and purchase based on a winning combination of content creator and distributor. Branding can help solidify an idea, support inclusiveness, and communicate innovation and quality for the platform, so that audiences look forward to seeing what’s hot now, and what’s next.

The next time you tune in, launch an app, or stream your favorite show, pay close attention to the ways in which the content is framed and presented. That’s the playground of the imagination for network marketing departments and their design partners — something we celebrate year round.

Bobby Hougham is the Executive Creative Director, Founding Partner and directs for The New Blank. This article originally appeared in Post Magazine.

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