Launched in 1994 and owned and operated by AMC Networks, IFC (Independent Film Channel) is a television channel with a mix of kooky, serious, and pop-culture-y programming. From original comedy series like Portlandia and MARON to “classic” movies like Scarface and Napoleon Dynamite, IFC is one of the most entertaining and least pandering channels available. This month it introduced a new identity and on-air look designed by New York, NY-based Gretel.
Thinking of IFC as a venue became a through-line: billing talent, promoting the acts, curating the movie selection and being careful never to steal the spotlight from the headliners. This core idea informed all aspects of the design, from the logo to the endpage layouts, even the typography. Honing the ‘Slightly Off’ brand voice led to re-thinking the use of language on the network as a whole; from title cards to promo structures.
If it seems not long ago since IFC changed its identity that’s because it wasn’t. In 2011, Feel Good Anyway gave IFC its first major redesign and it was an extremely well-received project. It’s been one of my personal favorites for a long time so when I first saw they were changing I was slightly saddened, so I went it with some trepidation….
Still Slightly Off, with a little more depth, dimension, weight. A reflection of the growth of IFC itself, the new logo was inspired by thinking of IFC as a production company or venue.
The new logo is a literal evolution of the previous one, taking the same quirky logo and tilting it and extruding it in plain simple 3D graphics. No shadows, no gradients, no shines. Imagine that. So the logo retains the basic structure but adds some chutzpah to it. Based on the premise that the new branding is driven by IFC as a venue, you could very well imagine a lit-up sign of the new logo on the facade of some groovy brick building.
Two typefaces, two sizes, two roles. The Hero delivers the message: quotes, titles, punchlines… the important stuff. The Sidekick backs him up with color commentary, set-ups, context.
To me, the most excellent thing about this redesign are these two typeface selections and how well they work together. Prestige is didactic and serious, providing the deadpan punchlines while FF Clan is loud and boisterous. Both choices are completely left-field and their peculiar aesthetics keep the “Slightly Off” vibe of IFC.
IFC has an extensive, eclectic and constantly rotating catalog of movies. Add to that a growing slate of original comedies and there’s a quite a variety of content on the air. We designed and implemented a stamp system as a way to help categorize and pull all this material under the IFC brand. […] They also reflect the brand personality; only IFC would consider both The Big Lebowski and Point Break to be Classics.
These Gotham-typeset stamps and their weird line breaks offer an additional branding element that provides some texture to the otherwise spare identity.
The simple color palette of black and blue, deployed in big blocks works great to present pretty much every conceivable bit of IFC content, accommodating all the individual shows’ own branding. It’s straightforward and bold.
Sharpening the ‘Slightly Off’ IFC voice was our first challenge. Specifically, imbuing the brand with a personality that didn’t compete with the content. Eventually we boiled it down to 3 key tenets: We’re Direct, We’re Big Fans, and We’re Connected. […] Slightly Off means we always look for the unexpected take. We speak plainly and call out things that don’t necessarily need calling out. We’re constantly listing, sorting, naming, quoting. We know TV isn’t just on TV anymore, we make promos out of Tweets, point viewers to Netflix and tip them off to comedians they might like…even if they’re not on our air.
Informed by our digitally savvy, in-the-know brand voice, we provided several promo and ID ‘recipes’ for IFC. Slicing, sorting and re-mixing content was a persistent theme. Top 5 Lists, Air Quotes, [blank] in 10 seconds, Lists… they all reflect a blog-like approach to promoting content. And… in a way that easily translates cross-platform.
The identity and IFC’s sense of humor all come together perfectly in the on-air look — the gunshot-counter animated GIF above pretty much sums it all up. There is also some great visual details like the geometric shapes that flash before the typography — they don’t need to be there, yet they are, and it’s awesome. The ability to stick to two single weights of typography keeps the on-air look consistent from title cards to idents. Like its identity predecessor, this new version has both maintained and evolved the attitude that makes IFC exciting and now gives me more hope than trepidation for what might happen in another four or five years when (or if) they decide to change this — IFC knows its voice and understands its audience.
Thanks to Eden Weingart for the tip.