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Grime Watch: Channel 4 Brand Refresh

In this series, our Executive Creative Director Mr Martin Grimer shares inspiring, imaginative, abysmal or arousing examples of creativity, from packaging to posters, advertising to architecture. This week the Channel 4 brand refresh gets a big thumbs-up for its brave, surreal storytelling.

I was at art school when the original identity and groundbreaking idents for Channel 4 came out. I thought they were really fresh, with the different coloured blocks of the logo animating together to represent this new channel’s diversity of programming.

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Channel 4’s brand refresh recreates this in a new way, perhaps more relevant than ever as media has become so fragmented. For me, it truly reflects what the channel’s programming is all about: innovation, diversity and creativity. There’s the surreal, ethereal, bonkers film idents by the award-winning director Jonathan Glazer, which set the scene in a highly emotive way. Then there are the more on-the-nose, consumable executions like the Simpsons ident. They unpack the backstory of that original blocky identity created by Lambie-Nairn in the late 80s.

The new work certainly doesn’t follow the conventions of modern TV idents; this is more of an unfolding story, a teaser, making you wonder what’s coming next…

We’re taken on a journey through the story of the precious blocks, from their origins in a surreal, magical world where shamans dance in caves and glistening gem-like blocks appear in the landscape.

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The blocks are then harvested by white-suited, goggled technicians and refined in a laboratory until they develop a life of their own, manifesting themselves in any way they want. We’re left wanting to know what happens next.

This echoes the channel’s philosophy of discovering and nurturing raw talent and producing bold, innovative content as well as its audience’s desire for new, challenging programming.

Beyond the film the blocks suddenly have an amazing versatility and are used in many different ways, both structured and organically. Here you see remnants of the original Channel 4 identity, reimagined in a fresh, graphic, contemporary way.

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The bespoke typeface that Neville Brody has developed to support the brand refresh also nods to the original blocks, with its chamfered off letterforms.

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My personal favourite execution features just yellow blocks and two little eyes on a graphic blue background. Immediately you know it’s The Simpsons ident. The blocks have suddenly got a life to them that’s relevant and fresh… perfect, really. I can’t wait to see where the blocks go next.