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Sky Atlantic Takes Flight With Brand New Identity

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UK: Following the announcement of Sky & HBO’s multi-year output deal in July, Sky began the briefing process for the brand positioning of Sky Atlantic. Known colloquially as “the home of HBO in the UK”, the flagship entertainment channel officially launched yesterday with an impressive starting lineup including Scorsese’s Boardwalk Empire and You Don’t Know Jack with Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon.

Sky Atlantic Launch - 1 February 2011

In a bold move to challenge primetime terrestrial heavyweights, Sky is capitalizing on a clear gap in the market. Buoyed by an impressive year, the heart of the channel is powered by exclusive HBO content, including award winning dramas like The Wire, comedy mainstays like Curb Your Enthusiasm, and off-HBO hit Mad Men.

Here’s a look at the Sky Atlantic Pre-launch :60 trail, starring Dustin Hoffman

Working a parallel umbrella branding course with talented in-house agency Sky Creative, London-based Heavenly secured the high-profile assignment six months ago, and was challenged to “develop a premium, intelligent and influential entertainment brand within the Sky stable to challenge the likes of BBC2, Channel 4 and More 4”.

Sky Atlantic Ident “Bridges”:

The proposition needed to be versatile and future proof to accommodate the evolution of the content to include UK as well as US programming. It also needed to “look and feel stylish, cool, immersive, smart and engaging, whilst not becoming too niche”.

Sky Atlantic Ident “Bright Lights”:

Following a detailed brand audit, Heavenly developed a positioning based around the discerning target audience, but with an irreverent spin. A deep, immersive and intelligent experience with culturally defining, premium content.

Sky Atlantic Ident “City Cab”:

As well as expressing the brand positioning, the name needed to be future-proof to accommodate the eventual introduction of UK content. Sky had traditionally used a functional naming strategy, but the nature of this proposition demanded a broader scope. Nevertheless, the new channel brand still had to fit alongside the existing Sky portfolio. There was an opportunity in the market to create a brand name with style and stature and an understated confidence that reflected and reinforced the content experience.

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HBO Showcases Force In Newest Ident

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HBO Asia begins to unveil the first of a series of new idents via a concept codenamed “Abstract & Tease”. The goal was to give the new polished idents a twist by using elements that were surprising, unexpected, and interesting.

HBO Asia 2010 Ident "Magnet"

Led by HBO Executive Producer Brenda Chia, and helmed by Creative Director JL from Taipei-based JL Design, the result is an HBO presented in a slightly different light, this one titled “Magnet”.

Leveraging a visual metaphor representing HBO’s influence, the :15 ident uses a combination of iron fillings and solid sound design (led by HBO audio engineer Boris Goh) to express the channel’s rippling effect on the industry and impact with audiences. While some would point out that Showtime has made a serious play to HBO’s leadership perch in the US, few would argue with HBO’s continued significant influence internationally* in television.

*For UK readers, I’ll be sharing some insight on the Sky/HBO multi-year output deal and the much talked about Sky Atlantic HD channel brand launch in the coming months.

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