MTV’s On-Air Rebranding Is 2-D With a Dash of Web

Today, MTV launches brand-new branding. Here’s the rationale behind it–and why an overhaul didn’t require changing up the logo.

Today, MTV is launching a brand-new look, across all 64 of its worldwide channels–a rebranding that the company’s creative director calls “pop x 1000%.” Naturally, you’d expect a total overhaul, given a mandate like that, but the U.K.-based studio Universal Everything opted for a more interesting (and careful) approach.


What does it mean? Well, for one thing, it signifies a much more polished, coherent look for MTV, whose various bits of branding have often been excellent, but at the same time scattershot. But what’s more interesting is that the look is decidedly 2-D, with a cut and paste feel that looks lifted from punk rock zine’s of the 1980s. That’s different from the swirly embellishments of recent MTV history. And it’s a welcome relief.

The basic principles at work in the design–from good information graphics, type that performs different functions–are basically ideas cribbed from interactive and graphic design. Which makes sense, given UE’s background.

The starting point was recognizing that the logo itself was sacred–there wasn’t much that could be done to improve it. So UE made it more distinguished, stripping it of the colors and animations of years past. Instead, they treat it on-screen as as anchor that stays fixed at all times, and which orients all of the on-air navigation graphics:


And those graphics themselves are really quite nice. One novelty is a status bar for all shows, telling you how much time they have remaining. There’s also a linear infographic, showing what’s on next and what’s on after that:


At the bottom of the page is where the expressiveness is. A secondary set of fonts conveys a range of moods, as opposed the info-centric face used in the infographic (which is Pharma Bold Condensed by Swiss type foundry Optimo):


In addition, Universal Everything, who also have a top-notch motion graphics practice, created a series of gorgeous on-air identity animations:


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Universal Everything’s Forever Video Installation Is Enchanting

Via Creative Review, which has more details–including all the names of the secondary faces, and all six of the new ident animations.


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.