With true crime surging in popularity—Investigation Discovery, which is the leading cable network among women 25-54 in total day viewing —decided it was time to polish up its brand.
“The true-crime category has never been more popular and that’s reflected in the amount of content that is out there,” said Doug Seybert, group senior vice president, marketing at Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “When ID launched, we were the only game in town doing true crime. But considering the environment now, we wanted to make sure we were staying apace with the competition.”
As ID started pondering refreshing its brand, it began reaching out to a bevy of familiar collaborators.
ID first turned to brand consultant Wee Beastie, which did a deep dive into the network’s brand tenants.
Wee Beastie’s basic tenet is to determine how brands enrich their customers’ lives. The firm started talking to everyone who worked at ID to determine how they saw the brand for which they worked, and why they loved it so much.
“People see true crime as this kind of salacious, guilty pleasure,” said Chris McKenna, creative director at Studio City, Calif.-based Wee Beastie. “But ID is all about true crime that is not salacious—it’s about giving people meaning to their lives. ID viewers watch because they are really emotionally affected by what happens to people and by these stories. ID viewers are engaged because the [network’s style of storytelling] gives them closure and helps them find meaning behind all of these crazy things that are happening in the world. It’s perspective they can’t get anywhere else.”
After spending weeks talking to and working with ID’s staff, Wee Beastie came up with three pillars for the brand: truth, hope and empathy.
Seybert explained the pillars this way: “[ID is] on the search for truth, for the why and how of crime. Without hope, people will stop the search for truth and justice. And empathy is something that really sets ID apart. With every interview we conduct, every story we tell, we know there are multiple human beings who have lived through their darkest moments.”
“ID is telling true-crime stories with heart; they are the heart of true crime,” McKenna said.
With that brand strategy in place, ID began working on rebuilding its logo with logo consultant Cina Associates.
“They tackled the new logo with three criteria in mind: it needed to be bold, premium and platform agnostic,” Seybert said.
Cina took the logo from this:
To this, marking a pretty radical departure:
ID and Cina landed on the bold orange color for the logo after looking at colors that typically appear across the true-crime landscape: black, white and red. ID wanted to move away from those colors to distinguish itself from the rest of the increasingly crowded genre.
“We did a survey of all sorts of different key art and show packages within the true-crime genre. We wanted to signal that we were about crime but not be right on the nose,” Seybert said. “When we hit upon this deeper orange, it felt more modern.”
Cina also added the slant across the bottom of the logo to signal that something “is a little bit off,” said Seybert, while also harkening back to the former logo.
“It’s a vanishing point that pulls you into the story—pulling you in like our content pulls in our viewers,” he said.
Animation and graphics
To create the animation and graphics, ID pulled in Los Angeles-based Roger, which helped to create an ultra-clean look for the brand.
Working with Cina, ID landed on using the Centra No. 2 typeface by the Sharp foundry. That sans-serif font allows for simple, straightforward graphics that get the message across without interfering with the photography.
Roger also was tasked with creating graphic elements for the linear on-air brand that reminded viewers of binge-watching shows on streaming services, a behavior that ID viewers certainly exhibit as they consume hour after hour of the network’s programming.
“We were trying to bridge the gap between traditional linear programming and the digital world by bringing aspects of the digital world into that linear experience,” says Braden Wheeler, creative director at Roger. “We wanted to make it feel more in line with your experience on a streaming platform.”
While it’s challenging to translate intangible brand attributes—truth, hope, empathy—into a tangible motion-graphics look, Roger did add little touches here and there meant to do just that.
“Some of the graphic elements are leaning into the practical and tangible. They are less graphic and more organic,” said Wheeler. “In the full-screen view, ID wanted to push some of that humanity into the graphics and that comes about by using things like filmic blurs, light leaks and things like that.”
Once all of those brand elements were in place, it was time to create a brand spot (at the top of this piece) that pulled it all together.
To do this, ID held a sort of bake-off between agencies, with several of them producing brand spots. In the end, Silver Spring, Md.-based Fogo won the work.
“We’ve been working with ID for a little while so we have an understanding of their material and their network and the feel that they are going for,” said Jeffrey “Footy” Foot, executive director at Fogo.
ID gave Fogo two terabytes of footage to work with and Fogo dug in.
“We decided to just go for it,” Foot said. “We asked ourselves ‘what can we drop on their front door that they are either going to say this is a bunch of poop in a bag or they are going to pick up and show their boss?’”
Fogo’s original concept was “You love murder and it’s okay to admit it.” That was eventually tweaked to “Thank you, murder—you helped me to understand madness, justice and truth,” said Foot. “It’s an embracing of their position. People watch these shows because they are intrigued by the content.”
Fogo scored the spot with some edgy (and temporarily licensed) music tracks, finishing up with the tonally appropriate “What’s Up Danger,” from the film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
In the end, the brand refresh was about honing ID’s brand and sprucing it up, while its content remains the consistent true-crime storytelling to which its viewers are addicted.
“We’re still telling great stories with beginnings, middles and ends,” said Seybert. “We’re just taking a new approach on air that will mimic more of a premium environment. Everyone is getting the best possible ID.”
Client: Investigation Discovery
Group Senior Vice President, Marketing: Doug Seybert
Group Vice President, Marketing: Nellie Ryan
Group Vice President, Branded Entertainment: Eliza Booth
Senior Director Marketing: Jane Alexander
Senior Director, Marketing Production: Kyle Russell
Sr. Creative Director: Matt Kendis
Creative Director: Greg Stein, Carrie Sullivan
Art Director: Jennifer Green
Senior Editor: Joey D’Anna
Sr. Writer/Producer: Melinda Doyle
Production Manager: Jaycen Armstrong
Project Manager: Allison Frank
Producer: Cora Letteri, Maddie Ehrenreich
Brand Development: Wee Beastie
Project Lead: Monica Hinden
Branding Consultant/Creative Director: Chris McKenna
Creative Lead: Brett DiPretoro, Alan Harris
Copywriter: Alex Harvey, Joe Tower
Logo Design: Cina Associates
Designers: Michael Cina, Calvin LaBrie
Animation and Design: Roger
Executive Producer: Josh Libitsky
ECD: Terence Lee
CD: Braden Wheeler
Producer: Karla Fay Sylvester
Head of Production: Liz Catullo
Director of Business Development: Anne Pendola
CD: Ken Carlson
Designer: Kate Mrozowki
Designer/ 2D Animator: Lauren Tom, Derek Dubler, Eric Ramin, Dakota Hopkins
2D Animator: Jeremie Carreon, Tina Hung
Brand Spot: Fogo
Executive Producer: Jeffrey “Footy” Foot, Dave Gorrie
Vice President/Creative Director: Jeff Strong
Director of Editorial: Ian Rummer
Director of Production: AnChi Laster
Sound Designer: Richard Humphries
Music: Matter Inc
Music Supervisor: Pam Liptak
“What’s Up Danger,” From the film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Performed by Blackway & Black Caviar
Courtesy of Republic Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Lyrics and Music by Jared Piccone and Yaw Sintim-Misa
Published by Twenty Fifteen Avenue Music Inc. (Admin by Sony/ATV Tunes LLC) and Twenty
Fifteen Boulevard Music Inc. (Admin by Sony/ATV Songs LLC)
Performed by MagnusTheMagnus
Courtesy of MTheM AB / Universal Music AB courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises
Words and Music by Magnus Lidehall
© Universal PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. on behalf of Universal Music Publishing AB
Sonic Branding: Discovery Global Music Svc
Composer: Jon Clark, Phil Fuson