When it came time for Scripps Networks’ Cooking Channel to freshen up its brand, it knew exactly where to turn: Elevation.
The Atlanta- and Buenos Aires-based broadcast design agency had created the open for Cooking Channel’s Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers, which kept the hip in hip-hop while still focusing on the food.
“That open quickly became the gold standard for cool on Cooking Channel,” says Aaron McDannell, Cooking Channel’s creative director. “Rev Run was a very different kind of talent for Cooking Channel and we were very excited about having him. We had never really had the challenges of doing an open like that before. Elevation did a really amazing job of balancing all of the needs. They brought in what was cool about having Rev Run on our air, while sticking to what ultimately is most important to us, which is the food.”
Cooking Channel liked that work so much that Elevation didn’t have to pitch for the refresh, but they did have to work fast. Cooking Channel had signed new distribution agreements with Time Warner Cable and would soon be rolling out to a wider audience, at which time it wanted to introduce its new look. The network also was welcoming new talent that it wanted to showcase. Elevation started the refresh work at the end of May and had submitted the final package to Cooking Channel by the beginning of August.
Elevation gave Cooking Channel 130 separate branding elements, including backplates, bugs, closes, end pages, flexes, lower thirds, opens, snipes, stunt and special marketing packages, and transitions, created in AfterEffects Project for each of six color palettes. The package also included three different styles of IDs, encompassing logo branding, tag lines and network talent.
One of the project’s biggest challenges, besides its size, was its boundaries.
“Cooking Channel’s mandate was don’t fix what wasn’t broken. They just needed new energy and a fresher approach” says Stephen Cocks, Elevation’s creative director. “The other challenge was the new elements had to co-exist with the older elements so Cooking Channel could roll this out to slowly to replace the old package. That’s a really simple package that moves very well and has a great motion dynamic to it. We took that as a starting point, and then just moved it at a faster pace to give it more energy.”
Here is what Cooking Channel’s original branding package, designed by Trollbäck+Company, looked like when it was introduced with the network in 2010.
Two major changes that Elevation made were in the package’s color and sound. Dianne Frisbee, Elevation’s art director, and Leonardo Garcia Franchi, Elevation’s senior designer and animator, spent a lot of time developing a broader, brighter color palette.
“The color schemes were really derived from food,” says Frisbee. “We tackled it from an emotional perspective, so everything felt fresh, contemporary and smooth.”
While colors of many everyday foods—rice, meat, beans—can be dull, Elevation focused on the entire range, such as the sunny brightness of fresh oranges or garden-picked greens, the warm brown of almonds or cocoa, or the deep purple of home-grown eggplant. The palette, admittedly limited in Cooking Channel’s first brand go-round, now offers the network’s producers almost boundless choices.
Once the palette was established, Elevation started considering the motion and sound of the refresh. The IDs and promos move in and out vertically and horizontally, creating a feeling of movement and excitement. The sounds are simple, and reflect those of cooking: chopping, snipping, peeling.
“The sound of cooking was a big motivator for us,” says Frisbee. “Those staccato rhythms drove a lot of what we were trying to do with the movement. We knew we could fracture and chop the screen to get to the kinetic energy you have when you are cooking.”
The package’s soundtrack comes from a library and has a simple jazzy feel. “We wanted it to match the simplicity and directness of the graphics package,” says McDannell. “Our working model was that it could be anything but we should try to use tracks that use no more than three instruments.”
Overall, Cooking Channel says Elevation took a project that came with restrictions and managed to make it feel limitless.
“We knew we couldn’t do a light switch, we had to do a dimmer,” says McDannell. “Elevation was very constrained in terms of how much they could do. We are all just so pleased with it because they did so much.”
Aaron McDannell, creative director
Susie Fogelson, SVP, marketing, creative services and PR
Peter Risafi, VP, creative services
Brian Keenan, art director, on-air
Michael Smith, SVP/GM, Cooking Channel
Stephen Cocks, creative director
Dianne Frisbee, art director
Stephanie Carson, producer
Leonardo Garcia Franchi, senior designer and animator
Andrew Scott, sound design