Smithsonian Channel

Brand Identity

Context

Evolve Smithsonian Channel from its U.S.-centric “museum TV” roots into a global, multiplatform, nonfiction entertainment brand that reinvigorates the channel’s Gen X audience.

Strategy

Develop a fresh identity that stands apart from other nonfiction channels through factfulness, simplicity, and the joy of lifelong learning — visually, verbally, and emotionally.

Solution

A brand evolution that challenges Smithsonian Channel to push boundaries, ask questions, and prove how smarter entertainment can foster powerful engagement in the post-truth era.

Services

+ Visual Identity + Animation + Graphic Design + Copywriting + Animation Toolkits

Creative Strategy

What does it mean to be a nonfiction content brand in a world that’s grown increasingly short on facts?

In the midst of recent international growth and a rapidly-changing broadcast landscape, Smithsonian Channel partnered with us to reposition their brand as an approachable, smart, culturally-relevant entertainment platform—one that would stand out in a TV niche full of loud graphics, conspiracy theories, and “reality nonfiction”. Drawing from the legacy and research of the Smithsonian Institution and the knowledge-hungry needs of its primarily Gen X audience, we collaboratively developed a creative strategy that empowers the brand through simplicity, curiosity, and a refreshing devotion to fact.

Design System

A dynamic new on-air design package dials up the energy and pace of Smithsonian Channel’s content without losing the integrity and vision of the Institution.

Smithsonian Channel’s new design system possesses a deep strategic core: each decision, from the updated logo to the new strong, saturated color palette, is guided by the goal of communicating the brand’s tagline “It’s Brighter Here” at every opportunity. Visual simplicity and a content-first graphic approach further help Smithsonian Channel stand out and telepathically communicate its fact-based mentality—while bold, graphic title cards relay important information with punches of excitement and clarity. In motion, Smithsonian Channel keeps a driving, anthemic pace, further elevating and complementing its powerful, informative content.

Brand Workshops

A series of interactive sessions helped introduce and inspire in-house creatives to live, breathe, and own the brand evolution.

As part of its promise to evolve Smithsonian Channel away from its museum-TV roots and toward a new era of exciting, fact-first entertainment, we also delivered creative workshops to the Smithsonian Channel’s marketing, content, and programming teams in New York and DC. Each interactive session set out to share deep insights from our design process while engaging Smithsonian Channel staffers to learn and adopt the evolution into their daily practice. The result is a brand identity that’s to this day stretching, evolving, and challenging expectations around what a nonfiction entertainment brand can be in the post-truth era.