Spike Brand Refresh Keeps It Light

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom
Spike Refresh_Light

Spike’s brand refresh, which leverages light to achieve a bigger, more cinematic look, is currently on air and being rolled out to digital platforms and off-air creative.

In the last year, Spike has ascended to the Top 10 of channels among men 18-34. Its primetime viewership is up across the board, growing 36% versus last year among this demo, and it’s now the fastest growing cable channel among viewers 18-49. But while Spike is growing, it’s also broadening. Ink Master, for example, one of Spike’s most popular shows, has no skew to it at all, male or female. In line with its intent to continue growing and broadening, the network has undergone a brand refresh, landing on a bigger, more cinematic look, with heightened production value. The key to achieving this look was an infusion of light, according to Spike Art Director Michael Sutton-Long, who led the refresh.
“Light symbolizes energy and entertainment, and also a lightness of touch,” Sutton-Long said. “It is something that you see all the time, whether sunshine or a bright light. In the movies you see the projector and the beams of light, so it also calls to mind entertainment.”

In the past, the creative might have featured talent against solid background. Now you’re looking at Jon Taffer [of Bar Rescue] raising his glass, a full bar behind him, with the Spike logo and tune-in information atop the image. For further cinematic effect, a beam of light shines through the overlaid text.

Spike’s new creative features type laid over a picture, in a full frame without borders or cropping. This nuanced, full-frame, full-bleed photography tells more narrative by putting the viewer in real environments rather than solid backgrounds or other sorts of graphic space. When talent is not available, full-bleed photography is still used, retaining the sophisticated look without being cluttered. It also creates a sense of ownership over the underlying picture – viewers will instantly connect that image with Spike – for example, a cop car with sirens.

“I think it’s very much of its time in that people use Instagram filters to color images,” Sutton-Long said. “The refresh capitalizes on that trend. Type over a picture is also becoming more fashionable, and this pushes it a step forward by giving it sheen.”

There are practical merits as well – colors and designs are more adaptable to suit the show or movie being promoted, and gives producers more options to promote the show.

“The brand’s creative is important,” Sutton-Long said. “It lets people know what our network is about. As Spike continues to broaden its appeal to audiences, the refreshed look lets people know that Spike is a classy, entertainment-driven network. It’s not a full-on rebrand, but it moves the network in the direction of becoming bigger and broader and more cinematic.”

Spike Art Director Sutton-Long led the refresh, alongside Designer Jay Liquori, Creative Director Andre Razo and SVP Brand Marketing & Creative Terry Minogue.

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