DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service

UK viewers are getting a new free streaming service that lets them watch live broadcast TV via the internet. DixonBaxi explains how they developed a distinctive visual identity for Freely.

If you’ve ever tried to watch live broadcast TV in the UK via the internet, you’ll have been surprised to find it’s pretty difficult and complicated, if not impossible, for many of the channels. Well, now the main free-to-air broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – have joined forces to change all that.

An umbrella company called Everyone TV is now launching a new service. It will be built into the next generation of smart TVs and enable viewers to stream live channels alongside on-demand content for the first time without needing a satellite dish or aerial.

To create visual branding for the service, they turned to DixonBaxi. The London-based consultancy came up trumps, developing a playful and delightfully simple visual identity for Freely that helps distinguish it easily from the rest of the streaming market.

Name and mascot

As a new content service, the brand needed a new name to introduce itself to Britain. DixonBaxi had to find a name that would communicate the exact experience of interacting with the brand: free to have and easy to use, and landed on ‘Freely’.

The name is also an adverb that encompasses the emotive benefits of the brand, speaking to its inherent effortlessness and captivating freshness. ‘Freely’ lilts off the tongue with ease, and the name’s length was carefully considered to ensure legibility when printed onto remote controls.

DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service
DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service
DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service

Turning to visual design, DixonBaxi was keen to sidestep current conventions and create a brand that fully transforms itself into a character. Consequently, they constructed the new designs around a playful mascot called Freemoji.

This helps Freely stand out in a sea of content services demanding your money. The expressive and lively telly-watching companion is said to symbolise the brand’s attitude at large – “friendly, quirky and alive”.

“The name Freely represents the ability to watch for free but also the freedom to choose how and what you watch,” explains Amy Rowcliffe, marketing director for Everyone TV. “We have a cheeky, modern, and expressive character that brings the brand to life as the viewer’s welcoming and inquisitive companion.

“Great free TV has the power to make us feel every emotion, and we wanted a character to represent this,” she adds. “Our distinctive new branding will bring free TV into the streaming age for everyone, with a world of endless entertainment, all in one place.”

Emojis and TOV

Born from the distinctive shapes and curves of the Freemoji, DixonBaxi also created a suite of emojis that could capture the viewer’s every mood. These visual devices allow the brand to frame multiple channels, streamers and talent on a level playing field.

The tone of voice of the identity, meanwhile, is chatty and cheeky and never loses its quirk, encapsulating the persona of Freely. The TOV was again drafted as an extension of the Freely character, with a voice full of warmth that invites everyone into the conversation.

This focus on approachable personality helps make in-product navigation easy, serving the viewer as a companion and steward that guides them towards the worlds of entertainment they can choose from. This is heightened typographically through the use of the Raptor V3 typeface, which brings to life the brand’s playful spirit.

Logo and colour palette

The Freemoji logo sits with a simple and clean wordmark in the corner of the screen, allowing content to take centre stage while exuding its own character. Built from the same heavyweight lines and angles as the Freemoji, the UI and USP icons communicate everything the brand has to offer with confidence.

DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service
DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service
DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service

Developing with functionality in mind, the icons can switch into their ‘On Mode’, dialling up to a hot fuschia and breaking their forms with curves for added visual interest.

The colour palette, meanwhile, is simple yet sophisticated. The brand colours are predominantly black and white, with pops of hot pink adding fun and flair. The resulting system carefully balances function and fun, united by timeless, monochromatic elegance.

Extra energy and depth are brought to the design system via expressive motion principles. Objects can overshoot or bounce to simulate gravity, giving them weight and life. Subtle flexes of curves help round these motions out with a relaxed softness.

This helps bring the brand system together with human moments that are as playful as they are stylish and fresh. “Adding a well-thought-out motion theory can bring any brand to life,” explains motion designer Jens Bombey. “For Freely, it was key to make not just the brand but also its central character come to life. It was a joy to experiment with expressive character animations within a branding project. Having such a wide range of emotions to articulate the viewer’s TV watching experience and incorporating them within the brand makes Freely really stand out.”

Joyful spontaneity

“This project was a chance for us to bring a fresh new take on TV,” says Aydin Mustafa, senior designer at DixonBaxi. “We injected the essence of pure fun and warmth into Freely and built a character that embodies joyful spontaneity.

“The brand personality comes to life through its friendly, conversational tone and a suite of emoticons that burst open with energy and vibrancy when activated, mirroring the feeling of excitement you get watching the vast array of shows we love in the UK.”

DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service
DixonBaxi crafts playful visual identity for new free streaming service

“Telly brings us together, speaks to us as individuals, and reminds us that nothing’s better than snuggling up on the sofa with something worth watching,” adds senior designer Jas Welsh. “That’s a lot to wrap up in one brand. And I’m really proud of how we captured TV’s essence with Freely.

“It all started with a cheeky little face on a post-it note; it’s an identity with personality. The real kind, shifting from sunny to sad to shocked to in stitches at the press of a button. There’s so much craft behind it, but the spirit is what puts a smile on my face. And I hope it does the same for others.”