Recognized for creating influential television networks—MTV,
Vh1, TV Land, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon—which use design to
communicate added value, assuming a role in the industry as design
leaders, and producing brands known to the world over as cultural
To truly experience the scope of the massive one hundred and
thirty-one channel family of MTV Networks, simply examine the
lifetime viewing habits of the average television enthusiast. You
begin with children's networks Noggin and Nickelodeon—a carefully
crafted blend of education and entertainment. Later, MTV or one of
its ilk—MTV2, MTV Hits or MTV Jams—will lure you toward the
grown-up channels. You then graduate to the pop-culture celebration
that is Vh1 or the cutting-edge satire of Comedy Central. You could
spend decades on Vh1 Classic, Spike TV, CMT, Logo, Tr3s, MTV Chi,
and MTV Desi. International channels are on every continent, in
more than 140 languages, in 171 countries. And waiting for you in
your golden years is the nostalgia-soaked programming of TV Land.
Every day, around the world, to every kind of audience, MTV
Networks is one of the most influential visual communicators in
Responsible for launching and promoting this cavalcade of
brands, identities, characters, personalities, and artists, MTV
Networks embraced the value of great design; and throughout its 25
years, it also became one of design's greatest champions.
Consistently distinctive and technologically groundbreaking, the
MTV look is young, smart, stimulating, and sometimes even
controversial. MTV Networks has achieved all of this by nurturing
the brightest up-and-coming voices in design—a tradition that began
when MTV was originally branded in 1981. Producers went with the a
tradition of nurturing the underdogs—Pat Gorman, Frank Olinsky and
Patti Rogoff of Manhattan Design—who created a dripping-graffiti
logo in 1981 which has remained, for the most part, untouched for
25 years. It is one of the most recognized images in the world. The
branding of both Nickelodeon and VH1 followed suit, with Nick's
iconic bright orange splat, which can morph into appropriate shapes
as needed; and Vh1's evolution from the giant 1 of “Music First”
days to the 3D box logo that holds more than just videos.
MTV Networks has maintained a remarkable roster of designers
from around the world, as well as in its own impressive in-house
creative departments, who crank out work on a dizzying array of
brands. MTV Networks' promos, from the first “I want my MTV”'s
starring screeching '80s rockers, to the animated choreography of
Nick's characters, to the quirky interstitials of Vh1, have always
driven the evolution—and tested the boundaries—of the 30-second
form. The high-concept, graphically rich spots are created by some
of the world's best directors, motion designers and animators. They
are consistently awarded by industry shows for their inventiveness,
have been published in hundreds of books and featured in museum
exhibitions. Remarkably, the branding of MTV Networks has even
transcended the airwaves, with awards-show graphics, logos and
original artwork by its designers appearing as merchandise in a
street-level retail store in Times Square.
The MTV Networks family continues to create content that
transcends mediums, providing industry leadership and creative
opportunities. By providing a mainstream market for music videos,
MTV Networks fueled the formative years in the development of
contemporary motion graphics, animation and visual effects.
Animation also evolved under MTV Networks' watch, from the MTV show
“Liquid Television” where cult-to-mainstream classics like Mike
Judge's “Beavis and Butthead” were born, to Comedy Central's
revolution in cut-paper animation, “South Park.” The tweaking of
genres in traditional programming early on originated widely
replicated formats: reality TV from “The Real World,” postmodernist
viewing like “Pop Up Video” and the venerable fake news of “The
Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” The MTV Films division makes
movies that range from pop smashes Napoleon Dynamite and
Team America: World Police to Oscar-winning Hustle
& Flow and Election. The Nickelodeon brand is a
lifestyle, including thousands of products, movies, a magazine, and
even a resort and hotel in Florida. The brands rule the internet,
with MTV's Overdrive, Nickelodeon's TurboNick and Comedy Central's
MotherLode as exemplary sites of streaming broadband video, music,
news and web-only animated shorts that are redefining the roles of
interactivity and social networking. MTV Networks also owns
Neopets, the Gametrailers.com and Xfire casual gaming sites, and
Atom Entertainment and iFilm (the thinking man's YouTube).
When MTV introduced itself to the world on August 1, 1981, the
premiere, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” became firmly embedded in
pop culture lore. While the song was simply a cheeky nod to the
combination of music + video + television, it later became clear
that MTV was declaring a revolution in consumer media. And for each
subsequent revolution (digital kills video, internet kills
television), MTV is right there again. With every new logo, every
new promo, every new brand, MTV Networks' creative vision continues
to evolve, each incantation more compelling than the last. In fact,
we can't take our eyes off it.
The AIGA Corporate Leadership Award was established to recognize the role of perceptive and forward-thinking organizations.
Section: Inspiration -
awards, design educators, students
Fred Seibert (2000 AIGA Medalist) created the personas for MTV and Nickelodeon, back when they were vanguards of the
pop-cultural revolution, and has significantly influenced the look and content of animated cartoons,
first as president of Hanna-Barbera and later as the founder of
Frederator, a cartoon production company that provides programming to
the Cartoon Network. He has also held leadership positions at MTV Networks Online and Nickelodeon Online.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, identity design, digital media
The naming and branding of sport teams that can be considered racist to Native Americans are a problem needing to be solved. This presents a great case for design to rise to the challenge.
The Gaslight Anthem
Base Art Co.
New Sundance-selected film explores Emory Douglas’ provocative designs for the Black Panthers
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