Launched in 2015, NBC Universo — previously mun2 (2001 - 2015), previously GEMS (1993 - 2001) — is an American cable channel owned by NBCUniversal for the Latin and Spanish-speaking audience. Its main competition are long-standing Univison and Telemundo (the latter also owned by NBCUniversal) but NBC Universo is quickly on the rise, reaching 40 million homes and snagging major series like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, broadcasting them in Spanish, meaning Jax Teller is now officially a bad hombre. Its programming is a mix of original productions, celeb-realities series, mainstream series, blockbuster movies, sports, and live shows. Last month, NBC Universo introduced a new identity and on-air look designed by New York, NY-based Trollbäck+Company.
Universo’s new positioning, “Breaking Boundaries,” inspired us to propel the brand design far beyond its competition. Impactful animation and bold minimalism create a modern look that embraces the spirit of a young, diverse Hispanic audience. Our content-first approach strengthens Universo’s programming slate of hit originals, global sports, and premium mainstream shows presented in Spanish.
As I was writing about the old logo I thought “Weird, this sounds familiar” because I had forgotten I had written about the change from from mun2 to NBC Universo in 2015 and my opinion this morning was mostly the same as it was back then, which is that the old logo was heavily NBC-branded — understandable, of course — but so NBC-ish that it barely allowed for anything else to be built into it. Also, that dipping “R” was terrible. The new logo is still NBC-ish but less so. By dropping the actual NBC letters and keeping the peacock in a single color, all of a sudden it feels less like a licensed brand and more like its own thing where there is more synergy between the recognizable icon and the name that immediately signals “Spanish”. The icon-wordmark relationship is just right and allows for perfect reading as “NBC Universo”, especially now that it’s all a single color. Funny how different the wordmarks feel because it’s the exact same thing minus the dipping “R” which made the old logo look unnecessarily fuzzy.
One of the main hooks of the identity is the fragmentation of elements, with “UNI” and “VERSO” appearing in different orientations and locations — worth noting that these fragments are set in a different font than the wordmark — and show titles and info and talent shots filling in the blank spaces. Even the peacock gets scaled big and cut off every now and then, which is kind of mind-blowing they were allowed to do that.
The design language was developed in tandem with a new Latin-inspired sonic identity. Working with Grammy Award-winning producer José Luis Pardo, the percussion-heavy rhythms and ambient environments directly inform the motion theory for all animated elements.
If the static applications have an inherent energy to them, it’s nothing compared to the mini party that is the on-air package. Building on a magnificent sonic identity that makes you want to shake your rump and break out the maracas, the typography dances on screen with great energy and rhythm. This approach could have easily turned into a Carnival/Mariachi stereotype but instead takes highly recognizable audio notes from Latin music to create a contemporary burst of Hispanic/Latin flavor that (me falling in that category) I find very genuine and energizing. The typography behavior on screen also manages to overcome any clichés and while it’s an aesthetic that could fit any other channel, its synching with the music infuses it with the right cultural flavor, all done through what is pretty minimalistic typography.
The promos above, most likely done in-house after the guidelines were handed over, show how well this system can both adapt to any show and establish a recognizable visual and aural style that will help NBC Universo stand out from Univison and Telemundo. Overall, this is one of my favorite on-air looks for a TV channel in a while in how it combines typographic simplicity with musical diversity resulting in a restrained explosion of rhythm.
Thanks to Kevin Trinidad for the tip.