Human After All creates identification for the HBO platform for queer communities
The US TV broadcaster HBO has teamed up with the London design agency Human After All to build a brand for Human By Orientation, the recently launched platform for queer communities. Human After All developed the strategy, visual identity and tone of voice from the ground up to create a colorful brand full of celebration and hope.
Human By Orientation is meant to be a cultural hub for queer communities in the US, but as the name suggests, it's open to all as LBGTQ + programs appeal to a much wider audience in both television and music performances.
"It is a bold game for a mainstream premium brand to define new norms in society by celebrating and promoting queer culture," said Paul Willoughby, ECD of Human After All. "Like many other content producers, HBO has recognized that traditionally viewed minority audiences in the US are growing rapidly, and they want to create an evergreen space where queer programs are hosted to constantly relate to the audience stand."
HBO's brief was very open and it was up to the agency to take a very new initiative and turn it into a living, breathing brand. “Our first thoughts on the letter were basically great excitement. I had seen the first Human By Orientation launch event at SXSW Austin in a venue with a giant “human” logo sprawling across a building, ”says Willoughby. "It made me dream that maybe we might be a good fit for working on the project, since both we and HBO were clearly interested in people!"
When Willoughby and the team began researching the assignment, it was clear they needed a better understanding of what led to "first class brand communications for a queer audience." So the team asked friends in the queer community to recommend branded moments that resonated with them.
Understanding this landscape helped the team shape how Human By Orientation stood out from the crowd, and put all of the findings and insights into a discovery report that showed HBO where the odds were.
Real clarity came when Human After All landed on the platform's branded purpose: "To celebrate our proudest, strangest selves." "Defining the purpose of a brand is something we attach great importance to as it is at the heart of our creative mission and the driver of all future communication," explains Willoughby. "All brand communications should be colored around the purpose of the brand, and this is something by which all communications are measured."
Human By Orientation's purpose of celebrating our strangest selves aims to portray the sweeping shift in cultural ideals the brand is striving for. “We have all seen that the media is the most powerful medium for changing general attitudes in society, and Human By Orientation aims to do just that – expand representation and the trust of queer communities in a public one To strengthen life. Says Willoughby.
With the brand purpose established, it was time to develop the visual identity, inspired by the central brand idea of blurring the lines to celebrate the fluidity of people's choices about sexuality. The color palette comes from Gilbert Baker's legendary rainbow flag, which is mixed with punchy purple, blue and pink tones and all feels like an airbrush.
"We had a big debate about whether the queer audience still needs to see an open display of the flag in order to get the club," says Willoughby. "In the end, the flowing color gradients – more abstract yet dazzlingly lively – felt like the right balance between something of their own, while at the same time playing off the flag's cultural heritage."
Bold and elegant font has been used throughout, and the photography that accompanies the branded materials uses the same midnight blue that appears in other parts of the identity, giving the portraits and images a sense of cohesion.
As with many projects, Covid-19 has contributed to making some parts of the project difficult to carry out. “One of the big challenges we faced towards the end of the project was getting the branding toolkit ready for HBO's ambitious 2020 Digital Pride celebration. This event was quickly organized as Covid canceled personal Pride events this year, ”says Willoughby. “We provided the final design to marketing agency Lupine Creative to ensure that the website was in line with the newly conceived brand. 1.4 billion accumulated impressions were achieved on the Pride website and campaign. So we're glad we managed to get the job done! "
While the brand has been well received, Human After All is most proud of the role it has played in this cultural shift where LGBTQ + culture and programming are equally billed on a well-known network. "We hope that queer communities benefit from the broader representation of the brand," says Willoughby. "And that our future-oriented, flexible branding toolkit will pave the way for more of it."