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Brand/Rebrand: LMN

by Justin W. Sanders  |  11.09.2016

Formerly known as the Lifetime Movie Network, LMN is not typically television one puts on in the background while doing something else. 

Heaving with drama and sordid plot twists, a Lifetime original movie has appointment viewing baked into its very essence, whether you’re watching the recent Ferrell/Wiig vehicle A Deadly Adoption or revisiting the ‘90s insta-classic Death of a Cheerleader (perhaps via the Lifetime Movie Club app). It’s the driving force behind LMN’s tagline, “Can’t Look Away,” which in turn is at the crux of a recently launched network rebrand that uses evocative lighting and classic movie-marquee layouts to communicate a simple message: LMN is more than just a guilty pleasure, and it’s time to pour a glass of wine and get ready to watch.

“We definitely wanted something that spoke to the cinematic nature of our programming,” said Vedia Ayvaz, VP of creative and branding for LMN. “It really comes back to story and to female lead characters who are really strong and go through all sorts of things, and at the end of it they’re unbreakable women. It just felt right for the brand and the network, this idea of coming to LMN and having these awesome cinematic journeys.”

Charged with revamping LMN’s identity to reflect this more sophisticated outlook, New York design company Adolescent took a “Dim the Lights” approach intended to “simplify the lighting, the way you go to a movie theater,” said Man-Wai Cheung, the company’s CEO and creative director. “You make an event of it.”

This concept manifests both in soft, dreamy transitions that fade in and out of endpages, bumpers and other on-air elements like the dimming of house lights, and in graphics that include glowing rectangular backdrops and tantalizing cracks of illumination that suggest a door slightly opening to intrigue and mystery.

“We didn’t just want the lights to come on and off, we wanted to bend light a little, to move it in a bit of a natural way,” said Rad Mora, Adolescent’s senior art director. “But still be soothing and surprising, leading the eye where you want it to look.” The on-screen effect, he continued, posits “a cinema in which to watch these [movies]. Your room is transformed.”

Adding to the night-out-at-a-movie approach, Adolescent channeled the golden era of cinema with elegant typeface resembling the signage outside of old-timey theaters. In a nice, delicate touch, thin, luminescent beams hover above titles and wrap around lower thirds in a subtle nod to the lighting rods that were often the best part of marquees of yore.

In a perfect merging of form and function, Adolescent’s color palette for the rebrand is inspired by an array of six wines, each varietal describing the hue of its corresponding movie genre. The lush lavender of Cabernet, for instance, indicates a romantic offering is on the way, while sangria’s lively pink suggests comedy. Bordeaux offers up the deep red of drama, and pinot’s dark purple is suggestive of a hackles-raising thriller.

“In this day and age, you have to listen to your audience and kind of understand who they are,” said Ayvaz. “We knew that we had these rabid fans who would sit there on a Saturday night, glass of wine in hand, lock the door, not answer their phones, and watch, dedicated to their Saturday night movies… The palette originated from that.”

The final LMN product somehow manages to be both beautiful and captivating, yet doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fun of Lifetime movies, after all, has more than a little to do with their camp value. At the very least, their over-the-top-ness is what makes them compelling, whether you take them seriously or not.

“It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure,” said Mora. “We don’t want to deny that fact of it. You want to see these scandalous, over-the-top melodramas. You want to become immersed in that. We’re not going to deny the backbone of what these shows are. We want to elevate it for what it is… It’s the fun of the channel.”

Ayvaz described the effect as being akin to a “wink and a nod, a way for us to really connect with our fans, of saying ‘we get it, we’re with you, we appreciate your passion for our movies and these journeys that you go on with us every week.’”

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