TVNZ looks to bring the family together with branding update

After six months of creative and production work behind the scenes, TVNZ unveiled an updated look yesterday.

Developed in-house by the creative team at TVNZ Blacksand under the leadership of general manager Sarah Finnie and executive creative director Jens Hertzum, the refreshed branding is designed to unify the family of TVNZ channels across free-to-air and online. 

Until now, the overarching brand had been somewhat unconnected. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the fact that different naming formats had been used for TV One and TV2. 

“This was always a bit of bugbear for the team here,” says Hertzum. “And there was also a bit of confusion for our viewers in that they were uncertain of whether TV2 was related to TV3 and why One was a separate entity. So this is really about aligning everything.”

To do this, TVNZ will consilidate all its online content under a single site (TVNZ.co.nz), which will deliver live streaming of all TVNZ channels as well providing access to all on-demand content.  

The channels themselves have also undergone change, being renamed and rebranded. From now on, the various arms of TVNZ will be known as TVNZ 1, TVNZ 2, TVNZ Duke, 1 News Now and TVNZ OnDemand.

Finnie says this plays an important role in bringing TVNZ’s free-to-air and online offerings closer together.

“It felt disjointed for viewers in the past,” Finnie says. “It’s tough for viewers these days. You think about the number of content decisions they have to make these days … It’s sometimes really hard to know where to find your content.”

The branding associated with each of departments is also more unified, with different colour variations of the new TVNZ logo being used to represent each of the channels.

“It’s an evolution of the masterbrand, and it has now created an entire family,” says Hertzum.

The updated logos have a modern appearance, almost seeming akin to buttons one could press on a digital touchscreen. And Hertzum explains that this modern, distinctly digital look was exactly what head of design Jacob Slack was hoping to achieve.

“Jacob studied both broadcast and digital design, and this really brings both of those to the table,” Hertzum says.

More than a new logo

The TVNZ brand is also pulled together a bit more snugly through the application of a new font, designed in-house, which is used across all TVNZ collateral, online and in print.

“It’s all about keeping the masterbrand cohesive,” says Hertzum. “That said, the font does have seven different weightings, which will be used across the different channels, giving each its own flavour.”

The decision to develop a new font coincided with the somewhat serendipitous discovery of a secret skill possessed by a member of the TVNZ Blacksand team.

“We didn’t know we had a fontsmith in the team,” says Finnie. “He was just sitting there and he said, ‘Well, actually, I did some fonts at university.’”

From there the team got stuck into developing what would become known as Black Sans, a moniker Hertzum lovingly describes as “a grotesque design in-joke”.

This cohesiveness across the brands is further emphasised through bespoke music, which TVNZ commissioned from the team at Franklin Road.

“The music played in the brand elements are all part of one piece of music, produced by Jonathan Hughes at Franklin Road,” says Hertzum.

“We wanted a soundtrack for TVNZ. And we wanted that soundtrack, like the font, to support the brand, but it had to work across TVNZ 1 and 2 in different ways. So they’ve mixed that single piece of music into different styles and variants for the channels.”

The big reveal

The branding change will start to take effect on TVNZ channels on Sunday night, rolling out via a 60-second masterbrand montage and a collection of idents on TVNZ 1 and TVNZ 2.

The creative used across the TVNZ 1 idents features a large branded ball, casually rolling its way into a range of familiar Kiwi settings.

“It’s about showing that the brand is part of New Zealand,” says Hertzum. “It’s around and about and just pops up everywhere.”

Hertzum says that the idea for the ball came from the 1956 short film The Red Balloon, which showed a balloon following a young boy across the streets of Paris.  

While brand unity has been a major focus of the revamp, Hertzum says that it was also important to showcase the strengths of the different channels.

Whereas he sees TVNZ 1 as the storyteller (often airing large-scale dramas and current affairs), TVNZ 2 is the feel-good entertainment channel.

For this reason, the ball will not be rolling across TVNZ 2, and instead viewers will find their shows punctuated by a variety of dance segments performed by the New Zealand Dance Company.

“The idea was to bring the essence of the channel to life through dance,” says Hertzum.

“Dance makes you feel something. It gives you a hit of emotion, whether that be nostalgia or happiness. It’s just a great metaphor for TVNZ 2.”

All scenes used in the idents were shot in the same warehouse on a single day—something hinted at throughout the creative executions, which break down the fourth wall and show elements of the set.

“Traditional media tend to keep sticking to the fact that there are smoke and mirrors and they hide the magic, but the TVNZ 2 idents are railing against that and are really trying to smash it open,” says Hertzum.

“The idents had to feel authentic. We wanted the audience to feel like they were watching a performance, rather than being sold to. It’s not designed to be overly slick.”

For the team at TVNZ, the roll out on Sunday night will serve to finalise what has been a long journey. 

But, for viewers, it will only be the start. And given the human tendency to feel nostalgic, there will no doubt be few voices that engage in the customary outcry against the rebrand (in fact, it’s already started). In many ways, this has become part of the process. And TVNZ can now only wait for the inevitable vocal grieving to give way to acceptance.  

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