Design

All 4 rebrands with focus on “binge-watching” culture of online streaming

Channel 4’s on-demand service has been given a new look by its in-house studio 4Creative and DixonBaxi, which centres around an “constantly moving” animated play bar that looks to represent the limitless choice of TV shows online.

Channel Four’s online streaming service, All 4, has been rebranded, with a new logo that combines the channel’s historic block-based branding with a new “play bar” icon, inspired by what users see when streaming shows online.

Channel 4’s online streaming service originally launched as 4oD in 2006, then changed its name to All 4 in 2015. This rebrand was completed by 4Creative, alongside Magpie Studio and We Are Seventeen.

The new All 4 rebrand has been done by DixonBaxi and the channel’s in-house studio 4Creative, which have looked to stress the “endless” content provided by online streaming, which gives people the ability to easily “binge-watch boxsets” and switch between different shows, says Harry Ead, creative lead at DixonBaxi.

As well as emphasising the qualities of digital streaming, the rebrand also aims to bring All 4 in line with other Channel 4 branding. The new brand identity follows Channel 4’s separate channels, including 4Music, Film4 and More4, being brought under the same design style last year.

The new logo is a “4” symbol composed of many blocks, which pays homage to the Lambie-Nairn-designed Channel 4 logo that launched in 1982 and was made up of three-dimensional (3D) blocks. With a view to being “digital-first”, says Ead, the new logo is a two-dimensional (2D), flat graphic.

The logo is white set against a dark grey background, but also features a bright yellow bar and forward-angled “acidic green bar” in the middle of the “4”, which look to represent the play bar seen when users stream a show, which gradually moves as the show progresses. The yellow looks to represent the chunk of a show already watched, while the green represents what is left to watch.

The green has been adapted from a teal colour traditionally used by Channel 4, while the yellow is a new addition that looks to complement this, says Ead.

With both the colour combination and the play bar graphic device, Ead says the two design studios wanted to “move away from” icons and colours typically associated with streaming services.

“A lot of them centre their branding around the [triangular] ‘play’ symbol,” he says. “We used the play bar to show the level of control users now have over shows they are watching, rather than being stuck in a linear process; users can move forwards and backwards as they wish. We also felt a lot of on-demand services fall on reds, pinks and richer tones, so we wanted to be different.”

An animated version of the logo for digital use and for TV advertising of All 4 shows the green and yellow play bar graphic moving in a “constant loop”, stressing the idea of “endless” content-watching, says Ead.

The forward-facing slash on the green end looks to emphasise “forward motion”, he adds. This diagonal device is mirrored across advertising posters and banners, which show sections of photos from various shows compiled side-by-side, and separated by the slash device.

“[The slash] creates the idea of forward momentum and layering up these images with sharp diagonals captures the choice available,” says Ead. “It gives this idea of flicking through lots of different content.”

The yellow-and-green play bar will also be incorporated into the user interface (UI) of All 4’s online player itself, with users soon seeing the colours appear on the play bar when they stream, in a bid to increase brand recognition, Ead says.

A new typeface, called 4 Headline, makes use of italic to suggest this forward motion, as the type is slanted. This is used for copy when advertising shows and is also bold and “super chunky” to create a “distinctive and strong graphic aesthetic”, says Ead.

The project took three and a half months to complete and will be rolling out across all touchpoints in the coming months, including the All 4 website and social channels, print advertising and materials, and TV advertising and idents for All 4.

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