Halogen: Branding a Network from the Ground Up

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It’s not every day that a new network is launched. And it’s not every day that the network has a strong social mission.

I had the privilege to speak with the RIOT team and creative director Jeff Doud, about their collaborative process and the strategy they used to build the Halogen brand.

The Design Brief

Give us a little background on what was unique to the Halogen project.

This is the first project we have seen that is a truly multi-platform experience. Everyone is thinking about multi-platform branding but it’s the first time that we have seen a network coming to the market with a new launch: they are not retro-fitting the website into an existing network.

For Halogen, the web and the notion of social connectivity are almost more important than the traditional television viewing experience. In other words, we were asked to develop on air package that acknowledged and communicated to a unique audience: the target demo is 19-34 socially conscious individuals that are interested in entertainment that directly relates to world events, relevant issues, and have a deep commitment to making the world a better place.

The promise is quite neat: if you are a backpacker trekking through villages in Cambodia, with nothing but an iPhone, you can still feel connected to the network and contribute to it.

What were some of the design/conceptual mandates in the original brief?

The inspiring team at Halogen wanted a package that reflected the programming and the targeted viewership. There is a big world view, emphasizing social and personal responsibility. So when you think about what the web has to offer and the robust social connectivity, that has to be taken into account in the on-air package.

We know for instance that this particular demo, ½ of the viewers are surfing the web while they’re watching television: true multi-taskers. So we have arrived at the most important point: it’s that everything that we do to communicate on-air with this audience, the graphic look and feel should communicate the idea of connectivity and community, and that takes 2 distinct forms: it happens in the imagery itself but it also happens through establishing a sense of continuity with on-air programming.

So we have removed the typical roadblocks such as promo opens and day/time lineups, and have adopted the idea that the viewing experience is uninterrupted. The viewers are there to see the content so we should deliver it as continually as possible. We think of Bumps and Promos as branded content, so we display all on screen information over action, continually streaming program content. The visual thread is connected graphically via an “ever-opening box.” The box continues to hinge open, revealing new pictures in a dramatic show of connectivity. It maintains the illusion of a 3D box but never fully forms. Folding sides flip to reveal new triangular shapes that ring the 5-sided shape of the Halogen mark.

Development

The boards evolved quite dramatically over time. Can you talk about the graphic evolution through its various stages?

Sure. Our initial boards reflected our desire to emphasize the viewer’s engagement with multi-platform content delivery. This notion is sustained through fluid graphic elements and the use of “watch, log on, blog, share”.

Halogen’s demographic recognizes and understands intimately the new paradigms of television viewing and we soon realized that this messaging was superfluous. So, in the next phase of design, we shifted the message directly to “Halogentv.com” and worked towards the visualization of community interaction, in all its forms. The color palette acquired a broader range of tones to echo the diversity of Halogen’s missions, and the language now emphasizes the common motivations of the audience such as “laugh, share, relate, discover”.

Finally, in collaboration with our lead animator Deron Hoffmeyer we reached a design solution that was much more 3-dimentional and fluid, establishing the notion of a seamless, continuous viewing experience. The idea is to surpass the conventions of everyday television and build a premise around which ALL of the network’s identity elements, ad sales vehicles, and promotions pursue a single path toward capturing the spirit of Halogen in the emotions and intellect of the viewers.

So, if you look at the evolution of the boards, we have shifted from an overt expression of the multi-platform viewing engagement towards fully embracing the premise of the social mission of the network, through the use of typographical elements and iconic imagery.

Sonic Branding

When I saw the first motion tests I was struck by the synergy of sound and animation. Can you tell us about RIOT’s sound design process?

It’s interesting that you picked up on that. Because of production deadlines, sound design can often come later in the process. Here we made sure to involve our sound designer/composer, Erich Netherton, in the initial discussions with the client and our initial motion tests. Halogen also gave us some great guidance on the tonality of the music they had in mind.

Erich produced original tracks with six different themes. Two of them rose to the top in creating an atmosphere that could be adapted and customized for the various on-air components. They are very energetic and upbeat, but also contain an aura, a floating background sonic signature that suggests contemplation and calm. Erich mixed the tracks with instruments not commonly used – theramin and moog synthesizer. The sequences often build from a calm beginning to a brighter rhythm as the animations unfold and the ideas connectivity and community are revealed.

In the end we wanted tracks that could be engaging for cultures around the world, to push the theme that we all share the planet and have commonalities no matter where we live. I hope that comes through to the viewers.

Credits
RIOT creative team

Creative Director: Jeff Doud
Designers: Jeff Doud, Deron Hoffmeyer
Lead Animator/Compositor: Deron Hoffmeyer
Animation R&D: Gavin Holmes
Original Music & Sound Design: Erich Netherton
Audio Coordination: Brian Anderson
Audio Assist: Scott Waters
Producer: Eric Brackett
Executive Producer: Beth Helmer
Creative Consultants: John Phillips, Buddy Hall, Dominique Elliott

Halogen Creative Team

Creative Director: Brian Williams
Network Strategy Manager: Josh Acuff
Art Director: Zach Chambers
Marketing: Kyle Chowning
General Manager: Becky Henderson
VP of Operations: Kyle Young
Marketing Manager: Lindsay Fisher