VRV Brand Launch
One of the main things that drew me to Ellation was the opportunity to build a brand from the ground up. VRV was going to be the first new streaming product the company would produce since launching Crunchyroll nine years earlier.
VRV was envisioned as a “skinny bundle” streaming video platform that would aggregate content from Crunchyroll, but also from a wide variety of closely aligned brands in the “fan” space. I was with this product through most of its development, and for the first 3 years of its existence.
Whenever I tackle a brand design project, I like to get as many designers as I can to pitch treatments. VRV was not different. I utilized my fantastic internal team, as well as some of my regular freelance designers - some of whom I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years.
My brief was fairly simple. I was looking for a classic mark. Bold and punchy. It should be visible and readable on a wall of other logos. Most of our brandmark awareness would be achieved in information-rich visual environments, thus, readability was the most paramount design consideration.
I’m a traditionalist. I favor foundational design thinking above all else - solid fundamentals are vital in creating a durable logo. I prefer to start with black & white logomarks, and fully explore the core brandmark before I bring color to the table. I favor a 3-round iterative design process, refining and reducing logos over each subsequent round, until the choices are paired down to two or three finalists. It’s at this point that we start to explore color, usability, and practical applications. It’s important that each stage include maximum room for stakeholder feedback, ensuring total cross-functional buy-in once the final choice is made. That doesn’t mean I won’t strongly advocate for the design I believe in, but I do believe that something as important as a brand logo must have institutional support, or it won’t succeed.
Round 1 Logomarks
Round 2 Logomarks
Round 2 Mockups
Stage 3 Logomarks
It’s at this point when consensus started to form around one key visual approach: the hexagon mask/shield/cube. You’ll also notice that this is when the condensed “VRV” began to be explored. Parallel to this process, our legal and copyright team was testing things like URL availability. We couldn’t find anything remotely adjacent to verve.com, so thus “Verve” became “VRV”.
Why Is the VRV logo So yellow?
From the very beginning we decided that the VRV logo needed to be loud. It needed to be readable in a wide variety of placements, but also in environments where it would be fighting with much larger brands for attention
I worked on VRV for about 16 months before we fully launched the product. We created a series of hype pieces at various stages in the development process. These were used primarily to assist in the business development of the platform - soliciting new partners, for instance.
Leading up to the launch of the product, because things were in flux, and to minimize time-consuming licensor approvals, we realized that we needed key imagery to begin orienting the brand visually. I commissioned artist Nick Sirotich to make a giant illustrated asset for us, it had roughly eighty individual characters that represented certain broad genres that we were hoping to have on the platform.
While this key art was only ever meant to live for a short period of time, it did become a harbinger of the sorts of regular artist collaborations we’ve been using to build the brand.
Product Attribute Mascots (Yokai)
Artwork by Nick Sirotich
Early Key Art Concept Explorations
Brand Voice Guide
This is a vastly simplified version of the voice guide that I worked on with our internal stakeholders. This tonality is still foundational in our brand mission.
We did a soft launch on the VRV product in Fall 2016. This allowed us to explore different design approaches before the product went fully live and we would need to put paid media into it.
More Anime Campaign
After VRV had been live for a few months, in Spring of 2017, we were able to get a better sense of who was actually buying our product. Prior to launch, the assumption, driven by our research, had been that VRV would appeal to a more explicit “gamer” demographic, and so we were approaching our visual design from that standpoint. Perhaps due to the heavy presence of anime on our service (due to our sister company Crunchyroll), we discovered that the vast majority of our audience was consuming anime. This led us to reshape our marketing design assets to reflect this genre bias a little more closely. More Anime, originally titled All The Anime (as reflected in the video asset we created), was our first stab at opening the design up.
Summer 2017 - Better Together
Autumn 2017 - Krackle
Winter 2018 - Evergreen
We learned a lot in our experiments over the course of 2017. We’d started with a rather cold, gamer-oriented aesthetic, but as the brand evolved, and we learned who our audience was, we began to change that tonality to something more bright and poppy. We were also chasing a content strategy that began to lean into 90s nostalgia, we adjusted our design accordingly. This design has suited the content strategy thus far, so we’ve been sticking with it.
Topical Video Creative
Topical Marketing Creative
VRV Events and Collaborations
From its inception, VRV has collaborated widely with artists of various sorts. In 2018 we really leaned hard into that process. The idea is to be constantly iterating around our brand creative, and these collaborations provide a mechanism for that.
VRV Poster Series