The American TV network known for youth-oriented entertainment and reality shows is now adding sports to its offering. So they asked DixonBaxi to craft a fresh identity to rebrand them for 2024.
The CW is an American television network which got its name from the initials of its founders, CBS and Warner Bros. Launched in 2006, it’s long specialised in reality shows alongside original dramas aimed at a younger audience, such as Gossip Girl, Arrow, Jane the Virgin and Riverdale.
Recently, though, the network expanded its programming to include sports and other types of content. And so they asked London brand and design consultancy DixonBaxi to update their branding to reflect this new mix and their self-proclaimed vision of themselves as “scrappy underdogs”.
The challenge was to find a voice that was bold and unapologetic without being alienating and one that could speak to every American audience but still feel unique. In the words of DixonBaxi, this is: “A voice-led brand that brings a dash of spice to everything it does. Simple, sassy, and full of attitude, the brand speaks in a way the biggest networks can’t, bringing with it a light-hearted irreverence that feels like a breath of fresh air.”
“Very early in the project, we knew that voice would be a defining feature of our brand,” says senior designer Charlie Greenslade. “The challenge was how we deliver messaging that gives space to our voice to shine through. Harnessing a premium, deadpan aesthetic, we have created a brand that is bold, confident and truly unmissable.”
Drawing from the iconic shape of the existing mark, DixonBaxi refined CW’s logo with more typographic weight and balance, equipping it with a new boldness to steer the brand into the future.
Most dramatically, the definite article has been dropped to streamline the design and lean into the mark’s existing equity. The rebrand also debuts The Stage: a flexible brand signature based on the logo that can expand or contract into a discreet detail across the brand experience.
Its expanded version, in particular, is truly eye-catching. The designers have done a great job in stretching the logo to extreme lengths while it still appears recognisable as such.
DixonBaxi has also created a simple yet versatile suite of motion principles, allowing the brand to interact with a diverse array of content in a variety of ways. These include transforming the Stage device into a clapperboard, a navigation tool and a lens or using it to draw focus on particular content.
Colours and type
An attention-grabbing colour palette is centred around the hero colour, Hot Sauce: a vibrant and energetic orange, setting The CW apart from a crowded marketplace of blues. Meanwhile, the secondary palette is all named after ingredients, including pepper, salt, icing, and mint.
F37 Bolton, by UK-based type studio F37 Foundry, is the brand’s signature typeface. Typically used in uppercase, the typography lends itself to a deadpan delivery and exemplifies the brand’s unapologetic voice. The sans serif also echoes the forms in the new CW logo. This clean but confident type allows the brand to control its volume and span a wide range of expressions.
As well as the new visuals, the rebrand includes a new sonic identity. Created in partnership with We Are Audio, it’s fresh, bright and uplifting.
“This was truly a collaboration with the CW creative team to find an approach that was ownable and distinctive to them,” says design director Leah Surynt. “What could we do that no one else could? How could we push it? How do we create something that can become an icon while still embracing our heritage as we move this new exciting phase for the business?”
Senior producer Eliot Bromley adds: “With a brief that allowed us to explore The CW from a completely blank slate, we were able to create something very difficult to achieve: a brand that works across many regions of the US with a clean and simple system that relies heavily on a great tone of voice to bring the attitude.”