At first glance, the new brand direction Wolff-Olins rolled out this past summer for Current TV—the progressive-leaning news network founded by Al Gore—seems to have been made with people like me in mind.
As a news junkie, I’m a bit old-fashioned in that I like my news delivered to me with facts and thoughtful, engaging dialogue—not necessarily quiet and monotone (i.e. NPR), but not overproduced either (i.e. all the other cable news networks). As a designer, this is everything I wished I could do if I had the chance to work on a cable news brand—strip out the visual effects, the glassy filters, and build something modern, clean, and bold with a kind of fast-paced energy that pulls you in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to visual effects by any means (who didn’t enjoy the Sportcenter opening titles or Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol?!), but I appreciate when any brand bucks conventional wisdom and takes a big, potentially costly chance in hopes that a new normal could be established.
This is exactly what drew me in to their new look—Current TV got rid of the visual noise, and came out with something that feels progressive, polished and sharp while still keeping some street cred (even if the rough edges have been smoothed out). Whether this look (along with their new crop of hosts, Cenk Uygur, Jennifer Granholm and most notably Keith Olbermann*) will help them gain ground in broadcast media remains to be seen. Such a distinct look might distance themselves even further from the established networks. But I’m inspired they took that chance, and appealed to the highest common denominator of their audience.