Launched in 2006 (originally as 4 on Demand or 4oD), All 4 is Channel 4’s free on-demand service that provides access to the content of all of the network’s channels as well as exclusive content from partners like Vice and Adult Swim. The service is available on more than twenty platforms including browsers, mobile and tablet, and smart TVs and now counts with 18 million registered users. Last week, along with a revised iOS app, All 4 introduced a new identity designed by London, UK-based DixonBaxi in collaboration with Channel 4’s in-house team, 4creative.
The visual identity rebrand, developed by Channel 4’s in house agency 4creative and branding agency DixonBaxi includes a new All 4 logo - a 2D version of the classic Channel 4 logo featuring a streaming bar at its core. The streaming bar plays a central role in the rest of the branding and acts as a reminder of the endless content available on All 4.
Back when Channel 4’s logo was 3D the old All 4 logo made more sense as a different perspective of the logo’s blocks that could be interpreted as a different way of accessing the channel’s content. In other words, it was awkward but appropriate. The new logo adapts to both the flat approach and embedding a distinctive element within the 4 that all of Channel 4’s logos recently updated to. At first glance, without the motion I had no idea what the colored lines were meant to be or evoke but once I saw the animation I was more smitten as the infinite loop of the “Playbar” adds an interesting dimension to the familiar “4”. Being a digital-first logo, it will have plenty of opportunities to establish the animation, which is a good thing because without it, it’s almost as if they wrongly colored the main logo.
Two vibrant accent colours, a sharp yellow and acidic teal, bring a refreshing energy and digital quality to the brand. This is offset with a deep grey that adds a premium feel, while the use of Channel 4’s Headline brand font in its boldest, italic weight throughout creates a confident typographic language. From simple, clear headings online, to bold, offset layouts in print, social and on-air.
On its own or in static applications as you will see below, the playbar graphic is not very convincing as a brand identifier, looking more like a decorative element rather than the defining one. It’s nice, subtle, and the two bars evoke the shapes that the “4” is made of but it doesn’t quite have as strong a presence without the aid of motion.
All 4’s identity uses the heaviest typeface from the family designed by Brody Associates in 2015 as the primary choice. I wasn’t a fan of the type then, and I’m not a fan now. I find it very distracting and it fights for attention with anything around it.
In principle, the ads above are fine… they are attention-grabbing with big photos of the talent and loud type but it’s hard to tell whether this is an All 4 ad or a general Channel 4 ad since the playbar graphic sort of blends into the design a little too well.
In action, the Playbar expands horizontally to become an infinite stream that guides, frames and connects every piece of content, showcasing the vast library of shows available. The angle of the leading-edge of the 4 is used consistently to create a sense of forward momentum and is a strong graphic element of the look. In motion, it’s fluid, slick and effortless. Suggesting scrubbing through the timeline, revealing show images and titles through silky-smooth parallax motion.
Motion to the rescue though, as the playbar’s smooth and constant scrolling is really nice. Unlike a regular TV channel this doesn’t have or need a dozen tricks as it’s mostly transitions on the different apps as you select and start different shows as well as any brief informational devices so the simple scaling of the playbar as angled viewing boxes that maintain the horizontal scrolling effect work well. Overall, it’s a solid identity that makes All 4 part of the family but without it taking the spotlight away from the actual channels.