Good design, like a good story, should stand the test of time.
That sentiment rings especially true for The History Channel. Much more than simply a network, for more than three decades the global brand has offered entertaining twists on history by telling unexpected stories that invite viewers to dig deeper by looking not just into the past, but into the present and future as well.
It’s through that same lens that The History Channel launched a new global brand identity that seeks to retain the channel’s legacy, while modernizing it for the next era of entertainment. Each element of the rebrand — from the logo, to the motion sequences, to its multi-platform use — communicates the idea of exposing what’s just below the surface, uncovering content hidden in plain sight, and encouraging the curious to discover the history all around them.
“It’s a very coveted and personal brand that always endeavors to look at history through a contemporary lens,” said Tim Nolan, executive creative director, A+E Networks. “When you want to change this brand you have to go about it with a lot of respect.”
Nolan partnered with New York-based creative agency Sibling Rivalry and Joe Wright, co-founder and creative director, to bring the new look to life. They began by exploring contemporary designs before circling back to the current version.
“They respected the process, but they also pushed the boundaries,” Nolan said. “And that’s what you want from an agency. And I am also so proud of my team, including Matt Neary and Kate Leonard, who worked so closely with myself and Sibling Rivalry to bring our vision to reality.”
The Golden ‘H’
At first, executives at History were hesitant “to touch the golden H,” but focus groups and research supported the need for an update. They didn’t want their legacy to be so sacred that it held them back from their future.
“It’s always really fascinating to take a brand that has so much legacy and to look at it in a new way for today, and then future-proof it for tomorrow,” Wright said.
The new logo hides an H within an H, representing the story within the story that History is always looking to tell. Leaving behind the heavy 3D bevel and serifs, the outside H pays tribute to the brand’s heritage while the inside H adds contemporary style.
“You’ve got these two elements that work beautifully together,” said Wright. “They complement one another.”
The clean lines of the inside H form the foundation of a visual navigation system that uses nimble animations, vibrant imagery and energetic movements.
“Being able to break the elements of the logo apart, and then also this idea of bringing things together creates a very satisfying feel,” Wright said. “And the brand itself is bringing all of these elements together to uncover more things to tell the story.”
“It really is just a much more entertaining expression of the brand,” Nolan added.
From phones to billboards, the design works well across digital platforms and different sized screens, and the new identity has been embraced by The History Channel’s global community of more than 200 countries across more than 40 languages.
‘Welcome to a World Worth Knowing’
With that in mind, History’s new creative positioning, “Welcome to a World Worth Knowing,” taps into the value of learning about the world’s past in order to gain a better understanding of current events and the developments that follow.
“It plays into the core reasons of why our fans love us,” Nolan said. “The more you know, the more informed you are, and the better decisions you make.”
That notion is confirmed by History’s current and upcoming programming, which continues to present historical information in a way that’s accessible, engaging and fun.
For instance, the recent Promax-winning brand campaign, “The Rest is History,” features historical characters interacting in modern-day culture as they tout their important discoveries and inventions. From the creation of the ice-cream scoop to the birth of democracy, the tongue-in-cheek campaign’s fresh and comedic approach instills new relevance about the origins of many things that we take for granted today.
Alfred L. Cralle
History has also showcased “Welcome to a World Worth Knowing” by working with talent such as Morgan Freeman, William Shatner and chef Sohla El-Waylly, all of whom inspire a sense of wonder by asking questions about anything that sparks their interest.
Throughout its programming, The History Channel displays a unique ability to connect the past to the present, weaving together a tapestry of stories that straddle multiple timelines and cultures, here and around the world. Another critical piece to this endeavor was a smooth rollout to History’s partners in over 200 countries.
“The new branding respects The History Channel’s unique legacy and is inclusive of the massive network of territories around the globe, which are the very foundation of our unique storytelling experience,” said Moshe Laniado-Peleg, vice president, global creative content, A+E Networks. “It is vital that our brand not only represents the genesis of the stories we tell, but also the diverse audiences we serve in nearly every corner of the world.”
In the original YouTube series Ancient Recipes with Sohla, the chef attempts to recreate an original version of a favorite dish using historical cooking techniques and ingredients — such as baking pizza on a shield like a 600 B.C. Persian soldier. Meanwhile, in Ancient Workouts with Omar, audiences learn how to train like a Roman gladiator.
History is also making its content more accessible and engaging to viewers, such as taking the Pawn Stars on the road in a new show where series stars Rick, Chumlee and Corey criss-cross the country.
The diverse and entertaining slate of programming on The History Channel continues to engage viewers here and around the world, across every platform and with an ever-broadening audience appeal, Nolan said.
“There’s a lot more coming for History,” Nolan said. “It’s an exciting time. We’re connected more than ever with our partners around the world, and I think this is the launch pad that takes us into the future.”