Since launching in 2009, UKTV’s Really has been evolving, simplifying and sharpening its content offering as it’s gradually become, as the channel’s general manager Luke Hales put it, “more and more of a channel about real people and their lives.”
The network’s latest brand refresh is the clearest, most direct manifestation of that positioning yet, with a graphics package that uses the stories and images of actual people as its building blocks, and a tagline that couldn’t sum things up more economically: “Life on TV.”
To better serve the 10 distinct channels in its portfolio, UKTV launched its own creative shop in 2015. The group has enjoyed milestones since then, including an astonishing corporate purpose video that was one of 2016’s most inspired works, but Really marks its first end-to-end in-house channel refresh.
“We live and breathe our channel brands every day, so it makes sense for us to refresh it ourselves,” said Peter Allinson, UKTV’s head of design. “It was also faster and far more effective. We can talk to our colleagues, come up with a range of ideas and present them straightaway to stakeholders. So generally, it was a very positive experience.”
The streamlined communication process seems to have bred streamlined results, honed in on a new look that makes unfettered human connection the centerpiece. Through extensive research, Really turned up four extraordinary British residents with remarkable stories to tell, and whose cumulative narrative arc encompasses the channel’s five core genres: Property, Paranormal, Cops and Rescue, True Crime, and of course, simply, Real Life.
Allinson’s team then went and filmed these people telling their tales, on location. In one, a man named Eric revisits the field where he was struck by lightning. In another, one of only 300 female firefighters in the UK, Charlee, talks about saving the lives of a family of five.
The footage of these people and their narratives were then been parsed into “small moving portraits,” Hales said, that serve as the building blocks of Really’s on-screen identity.
“We wanted to keep it smartly open, not be brazen about the actual stories they were telling,” Allinson said. “We wanted this rebrand to feel quite authentic because we’re talking about real people and real stories.”
The ensuing idents, bumpers and other elements are startlingly nuanced, simply depicting the storytellers in their natural environment, adjusting in slow-motion to address the camera. A closer look reveals what Allinson called an “extra layer of story” in the form of a roto-scoped double exposure effect that plays additional footage over their silhouettes. But it’s so subtle it’s almost undetectable, like a slight breeze rippling through their clothing.
Ultimately, the spots add up to little more than raw, unbroken tracking shots with only one other graphical accouterment to break the spell: A thin white frame that serves as “sort of our window to real life,” Allinson said.
Prompted by on-air navigation, Really viewers intrigued by the idents can visit the channel’s website, where additional footage finds the selected individuals telling their stories in full.
“Knowing how passionate our audience is about those stories, it would have been a real shame to have left all of that interview material on the table rather than making it into something that we could share,” said Hales.
Beyond that, this aspect of the refresh feels somewhat revolutionary: an on-air package that itself is composed of multi-dimensional content. Now on Really, the real-life stories aren’t just found in its programming, but in the connective brand tissue between those shows. Rarely has the narrative DNA of a channel been so literally defined. And with its newly seamless in-house workflow, it will be no problem at all for UKTV to continue updating the package with new stories and individuals for years to come.
“We’ve got all the working files and we know it back to front,” Allinson said. “We can literally just get a crew and go out and shoot another contributor and get it done.”
Creative: UKTV in-house
Head of Design: Peter Allinson
Senior Designers: Luke Tilly (OSP) and Adam Cutts (Idents)
Senior Producers: Celia Bayne (OSP) and Danny Wimborne (Idents)
Assistant Producer: Sophie Fox
Ident Director: Matt McDermott
Creative Manager: Paul Philpott
Creative Director: Scott Russell
Marketing Lead/Senior Marketing Manager: Natalie House
Onsite Post-Production: The Farm Group