To help Cartoon Network bring to life its vision of a brand expansion strategy that included a new look and tone, the international creative design and production studio Brand New School partnered with the network’s creative team to produce a look and sensibility that would allow them to have a dialogue with its audience across an array of platforms.
The network chose to embrace its brand visual heritage of the black and white checkerboard by imbuing it with new meaning, and the artists and producers of BNS were able to bring this idea to life in a fresh, compelling way using dimension, color and movement. All the new design elements began appearing in late May, and the new on-air IDs premiered on the network this week.
“Our brand expansion represents our commitment to delivering a breadth of content that our audience cannot find anywhere else,” said Senior Vice President of Creative Direction, Michael Ouweleen. “The checkerboard is in our DNA and is not only reflected in the subtle redesign of the logo but also provides a through line that connects and helps frame our diverse slate of programming from animation to live-action. The art direction and creative acumen of the Brand New School and their ability to breathe new into the iconic was invaluable and helped us achieve our goal.”
BNS founder and creative director Jonathan Notaro, along with art directors Eric Adolfsen and Mike Calvert, provided detailed insights into the conceptual thinking behind the multifaceted brand expansion project, where their approaches emphasized interconnectedness across each and every deliverable, as well as the pairing of extremely thoughtful design with animation geared toward generating specific audience responses, including laughter.
“This has been a very exciting opportunity for us to be closely involved with Cartoon Network and their continued evolution,” Notaro began. “The new on-air identity complements its diverse range of visual languages, and leverages our design expertise by incorporating specific, creative means for consistently packaging the network’s editorial humor into every second of each broadcast day.”
By combining their design ideas within the organizational approach, the BNS team is pleased to have created a meta-narrative that uses the complete visual identity system to creatively convey the interconnectedness of the channel’s content. From the promos to the menus to the bumps to the IDs, each piece tells the same story from a different perspective, where the checkerboard functions like a chessboard, with infinite moves possible.
“Because we’d created such a gridded and structured designs for the overall approach, it became imperative that the movement of these pieces felt snappy, fast-paced, and above all, playful and full of life,” said Calvert. “Our animators developed a language that’s rooted in familiar physical interactions, but caricatured and amplified into something incredibly captivating and energetic.”
It was important to Cartoon Network that each day part be distinct and branded with its own color, humor and expanding level of complexity. “We wanted to share on-air the excitement we found in the initial explorations of the checkerboard and the grid,” said Adolfsen. “From the first to the last second of each day, we looked for ways to consistently surprise viewers and build on the language of the checkerboard, eventually creating a visual shorthand the audience could embrace.”
The creation of each animated asset in the project was led by BNS’s Hyesung Park, Arthur Hur and Andy Mastrocinque. Among many elements created by various artists under their supervision is a series of 14 short, black-and-white animated IDs, each of which derives visually from the letter forms of the newly designed Cartoon Network logo.
As summarized by Calvert, ‘Our enthusiasm for the brand reached every pocket of this redesign, culminating in the ID system we developed,” explained Calvert. For the ID’s, Brand New School established a simple rule: make a black and white animation based on each of the 14 letters of the words Cartoon Network. “The idents are both a nod to the channel’s history as well as an opportunity to curate the artists we love. They’re a celebration of every form of animation, from hand-drawn cel to 3D.”
For HD design and finishing, as well as all elements of the broadcast package, primary artistic tools for BNS have included Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Maya, Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Flame. Complete project credits are available upon request.
About Brand New School
With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Brand New School is a bicoastal directing collective working in all fields of commercial art. Ever evolving, the studio continues to cultivate a sense of wonder and exploration. For its artists and clients alike, BNS represents an opportunity to play at work, to conduct experiments in image-making, and to feed the inspiration that drives the industry.
About Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network currently seen in more than 97 million U.S. homes and 166 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service now available in HD offering the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for kids and families. Nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Cartoon Network shares its channel space with Adult Swim, a late-night destination showcasing original and acquired entertainment for young adults 18-34. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
Project Name: Cartoon Network Brand Expansion
Client: Cartoon Network
Chief Marketing Officer: Brenda Freeman
SVP On-Air/Creative Director: Michael Ouweleen
VP Production On-Air: Nathania Seales
Art Director: Eric Lacombe
Design & Production Company: Brand New School
Creative Director: Jonathan Notaro
Art Directors: Eric Adolfsen, Mike Calvert
Associate Art Director: Forest Young
Logo Designers: Jonathan Notaro, Jens Gehlhaar, Eric Adolfsen, Mike Calvert, Ryan Waller
Lead Designers: Adam Wentworth, Damien Correll
Icon Designers: Mike Calvert, Aaron Stewart
Pitch Designers: Eric Adolfsen, Mike Calvert, Forest Young, Josh Parpan, Will Frohn, Pat Arrington, Philippe Intraligi, Ryan Cox, Sal Dell’Aquila, George Vincent
CG Director: Vadim Turchin
3D Animation: Walter Lubinski
3D Tracking: Han Ho
3D Modeling: Walter Lubinski, Adam Rosenzweig
Lead Animators: Hyesung Park, Andy Mastrocinque, Arthur Hur
Animator: David Rasura
Additonal Animation: Eric Bauer, David Lucido
Flicks Movie Package Design: Jungeun Kim
Flicks 2D VFX Supervisor: Arthur Hur
Flicks 3D VFX Supervisor: Han Ho
Flicks CG Director: Han Ho
Flicks Movie Package Editor: Sam Goetz
Storyboarding: Will Rosado
Managing Director: Danny Rosenbloom
Head of Production: Devin Brook
Producer: Greg Babuik
Associate Producer: Michele Watkins
Production Coordinator: Ilona Klaver
Production Assistant: Madison Brigode
ID Design and Animation Credits
“C” (Magnet): Design: Meg Hunt; Animation: Stieg Retlin, Kat Morris, Andy Mastrocinque
“A” (Roadway): Design: Mike Calvert; Animation: Freddy Arenas
“R” (Car Chase): Design: Ryan Cox; Animation: Walter Lubinski
“T” (Helicopter): Design: Ryan Cox; Animation: Walter Lubinski
“OO” (Split Eyes): Design: Travis Millard; Animation: Stieg Retlin, Hyesung Park
“N (Footjoy)”: Design: Eric Adolfsen; Animation: Freddy Arenas
“N (Teeth)”: Design: Ricardo Villavicencio; Animation: Hyesung Park, Stieg Retlin
“E” (Bubbles): Design: Mike Calvert; Animation: Andy Mastrocinque, Steig Retlin
“T” (Clothesline): Design: Stephen Kelleher; Animation: Hyesung Park
“W” (Serpent): Design: Andrew Poneros; Animation: Andy Masterson
“O” (Infinite Donut): Design: Travis Millard; Animation: Stieg Retlin, Hyesung Park
“R” (Arrgh): Design: Meg Hunt; Animation: Hyesung Park, Stieg Retlin, Jessica Milazzo
“K” (Mega Bite): Design: Ricardo Villavicencio; Animation: Andy Mastrocinque
Original Music: Mad Decent and Michael Kohler