Operating 20 television networks, 82 radio stations, and 8,000 outdoor advertising spaces, Astral Media is one of Canada’s largest media corporations, employing 2,800 employees across the country. Originally started in 1961 as a photo concession service within a store, it dabbled in various fields, from film and TV production to videocassette duplication, before growing into the conglomerate it is today that “plays a central role in community life across the country by offering diverse, rich and vibrant programming that meets the tastes and needs of consumers and advertisers.” Last week, Astral Media announced it would change its public name to, simply, Astral and introduced a new identity and advertising campaign by Toronto-based Juniper Park.
Astral’s new brand image represents the company’s diverse assets, decentralized yet disciplined business model and the knowledge, passion and imagination its employees bring to the marketplace. The vibrant colour palette and creative shape of the new logo are designed to convey human warmth and emotion, within a defined and responsive structure that is grounded and resilient.
— Press Release
Before proceeding you should also watch the :30 television spot to get the full picture and, also to perhaps point out that it’s hard to tell what was the stick and what was the carrot that drove this redesign… whether it was the advertising that begat the logo or vice versa. Or, perhaps, the cynic in me would be more positive and assume that the whole thing was a fully integrated idea from the start — unfortunately, the cynic in me is always on high alert when ad agencies undertake identity work. And judging from the final result, I guess I have reason to keep the fire burning: The logo is a weird mess.
It’s clear that the old logo had to go, as it presented a very corporate, 1980s personality not fit for a company that wanted to become more public. In exchange, we get the tried-and-true change to an all lowercase wordmark and a festively colored icon that strives to represent a twenty-first century media company. Unfortunately, the clunkiness of the execution presents a media company fit for the Flintsones, with an unsophisticated thick, squiggly line forming extremely unpleasant shapes within a relatively contemporary “a.” The bolder “a” used in the icon feels almost like a different typeface, and I wonder why the “a” from the wordmark wasn’t used instead. I will admit that the animation above almost saves the logo, but it would have the ending would have to be different, as in animating into another logo.
Perhaps there was a good concept deep inside, but it just never came out in execution.