Classic movies and classic graphic design – both sources of inspiration, and no one does it better than TCM. Their commercials, program intros, event branding, website, print publications and products all are branded with the same retro, distinctive TCM style. This unity of great design across platforms and media is a basic goal for any successful marketing, regardless of a company’s size or budget. TCM is well worth a look if you need a little inspiration.
Turner Classic Movies is the cable/satellite channel owned by Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time/Warner. The TCM logotype, which sets the graphic tone for all the consistent branding TCM does so well, was created by the charles s. anderson design co. of Minneapolis, MN. This world class firm holds a client list which reads like a Who’s Who of great branding and marketing success. (They also maintain an incredible royalty free image library of highly curated pop culture artwork, a great resource for any designer, called csaimages.) Their website relates the story of how the original TCM logo design was created with 30 different icons to represent the multiplicity of the movie industry and its ever-changing nature as a medium. When presented to Ted Turner, he wanted to know “which one is the logo?” The answer: all of them! “But which one?”
The multi-faceted approach of that original design sets the standard for the cross-platform, diversified branding of TCM that maintains the same look, feel and tone across it’s print media, television production, expansive website and product creation. The tone is distinctly retro, but with a modern, polished, and high-tech flavor. Having open access to one of the world’s largest, richest film libraries for your inspiration and imagery is a resource of which any graphic designer can only dream! But the folks at TCM consistently use those images in a fresh, larger-than-life way to maintain the thematic look of their brand without exploiting or tarnishing the classic films from which the images are appropriated. That, in itself, is a tough task and speaks to the integrity of the TCM design process. For example:
The first half of the clip above demonstrates this balance well – a humorous look at the man on the street’s reaction to the iconic image of Sue Lyon in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film “Lolita.” The second half of the clip sets a perfect film noir mood, creating an homage to American artist Edward Hopper’s famous painting “Nighthawks.” This is smart marketing that know’s its audience and upholds the value and integrity of its film archive.
Studying how the big players excel is valuable instruction for the rest of us. For those of us who cannot afford the guidance of a charles s. anderson design team and don’t have the budget of a Ted Turner, a few takeaways are:
Develop and know your image. Be sure, at the most basic level, you understand and control the “look” of your brand – what it stands for, how it will represent and how you want the public to perceive your business. This begins, typically, with a basic logotype and then expands throughout all the activities of your enterprise.
Respect yourself. Your passion for your work should show through in your business’ design and marketing efforts. Work with a designer and printer to create marketing material that inspires you, makes you feel proud of what you do, and represents quality.
Work to maintain consistency of your brand in all the ways the public encounters your business. The design and flavor of your print materials should be a consistent match to any representation of your business that your public will see. Consider all the areas this might include: signage, website, direct mail, social media, print/tv/radio/web advertisements, employee uniforms, retail spaces and lobby decor, promotional products as well as the actual goods or services produced and supplied.
Printers understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. They should also be able to work with you to solve any difficult prepress issues with your files. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!