26 September 2008

[logo_design] My Critique Of the KOIN Local 6 Rebranding


The conversation over at OMI about the new KOIN Local 6 look has become very raucous indeed.

It's amazing ... nobody realizes how strongly they feel about a station's look, until it gets changed. Then, watch out!.

John Christopher Burns has done a fine job of updating a look whose updating time had come and gone. The use of color, shape and font has me excited about watching KOIN again. The "KOIN Local 6" tag is kind of a courageous step. The brand has been freshened.

JCB has actually come to respond to the fray, and his response is dignified, poised, and paints a positive picture of the people he interacted with at KOIN. Some unfriendly comments were bandied and he fielded them and handled them with aplomb.

As for my thoughts, here they are from the OMI thread. I'll want to expound upon these at a later time perhaps:

As some around here have said "I'm no graphic designer", well, I am (I just can't get anyone to hire me, is all) and I'm going to come out in favor of the new look.

First, the color palette: with cool blues and greens, it is presumably meant to evoke "Northwestness" .... blue for water and mountains and sky, green for the forest. Moreover, the cool colors contrast well against the warm backgrounds that they use to show it off on.

The 'tetris'-y blocks of color fit together nicely, like a tightly-assembled puzzle, and create a sort of dynamic tension that wouldn't be there if it was all a nice, tight, symmetrical block.

The way the individual show brand ("@ 6:00") is shown by retracting the lower block, spinning it, and pushing it forward is kinda cute and allows the show branding to efficiently share the logo design. One of KOIN's big design problems has, in my opinion, been distinctive show branding. For a long time, I didn't really know that the AM program had a brand name, and even after I found it was Good Morning, Northwest, I didn't really care (the GM "Northwest" tag was also a little too vague to be compelling. Say what you will about KPTV, the show brand Good Day Oregon is at least a minor bit of branding brilliance, and they carry it off well, making it distinctive within the overall KPTV look).

I've seen the new logo and the comments about the multiplicity of fonts. I don't see all that many, only two really : the one used for the number 6, and everything else. The everything else, however, is carried forward in a number of different weights, and the chyrons seem to carry a condensed version of that font.

I actually think the minuscule treatment of the word "local" appropriate. Lower-case letters are 'friendlier' than caps, and connect with the 6 in a friendly way.

The swoopy 6 is definitely in a different font, and it stands out in its swoopiness. The number 6 is a huge brand around there on the TV, and it wouldn't do to make it uniform with the rest of the design. In the light weight it's in, though, it stands out but not too much, and keeps the logo one happy family. It also adds a little looseness to a very structured logo.

...oh, wait. I just saw an over-the-shoulder graphic which uses what appears to be some form of Officina. A little strange, that. Not what I would have chose. It does harmonize with the sans-serif used everywhere else though, since it's simple and bold like the rest of it.

I will insert a disclaimer here that I've not yet seen an entire KOIN 6 newscast. When I do my opnion may change somewhat but I don't think too much. After all, compared to the previous graphic look, with this strange big rotating machine-thing that did an abrupt 45-right turn in this hot red airless space, it's a vast improvement. It's not that I didn't love the look, but it left me scratching my head. It was well done, but what did it mean?

All that said, it's not as compelling as the Swan 2, but that one hit it out of the park. KOIN's new look is a solid triple, at least.

If I could change one thing about that review, it's probably that last sentence there. I'd say the new KOIN look hits a home run. The more I look at it, the more I like it.

JCB has posted more of his work on the KOIN Local 6 brand here. Go look. It's quite nifty and slick!

He has hinted that he will perhaps discuss his process at a later time. I certainly hope so! Watching creativity explain itself is almost as much fun as simply being creative!

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stan said...

I really dig the new KOIN logo. The big, red, circle 6 had bored me for a while, even when I still lived there more than two years ago. 'Bout time, I say.

As for the fonts, I'm sure you've made a mental, if unintentional, connection to both the old and new designs of Willamette Week. Nice subtle touch.

The old Dub-Dub was heavy with Officina and it worked well. And I personally think the font is a great complement to Gotham, which, though seemingly ubiquitous, still tickles my fancy. Hee hee, my fancy!

I look forward to checking out a 6 newscast in a few days when I'll also be, you know, local.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...


You have the right of it there. The old logo, even if it was in a circle (and playing on the homophone "coin") was kind of tired.

The real freshness is in the color palette. After seeing some of JCB's other designs for it, I now really think it's a winner. The old look predominated in the red and was a little uncomfortable in that palette.

You're right about me noting the connection. Willamtte Week"s old design utilzed Officina extensively. Now, I believe WW's also using Gotham. That is a mad popular font right now – it looks good and carries the message without overwhelming you with its looks. Good, effective, and approachable. Some have called it the new Helvetica but I wouldn't go that far yet ... that sobriequet has been thrown about.

I hope you enjoy your trip back home. I'm sure it's missed you as much as you've missed it.