Shedding light on the Starz Entertainment brand

Over 50 million subscribers worldwide watch Starz Entertainment’s 16 premium movie and original show content channels. Starz Entertainment competes as one of the most prolific content providers next to HBO and Showtime — but two things had to occur before Starz confidently shared the limelight with such prodigious competition: first, Starz needed to form a deeper relationship with what it stood for as a company, and secondly Starz needed a visual brand that represented them in a new light.

Starz asked themselves: what really drives us to produce world-class storytelling content?

A deep-dive discovery

Beth Barbee, brand strategist for Darwin Inc., guided Starz Entertainment through a deep-dive discovery from inside the heart and mind of the company. Beth Barbee asked: what does Starz stand for, what do they care about most, what was meaningful to them? It was a discovery that brought to life the veritable power of entertainment for the Starz creative and business culture. What resulted was the creation of a new identity and a supporting company manifesto that introduced the new brand internally, inspiring new thought, and setting some guiding principles around how to use it going forward.

Some examples of content from the pages of the Starz company manifesto read:

“We are a bright shining light in the world of entertainment”, “The curtain rises each day to incredible new opportunities”, “Every day is our premiere”. This copy acts as both inspiration and foundational attributes of the brand.

Strong exploration comes to life in a new identity

For Design and Image, the updated mark was formed to act as the metaphor for the illuminated feeling audiences have when they experience a great film or show. Through the use of a simple opening, or aperture, Starz offers both the window to amazing content, and a place from which light and life bursts forth. It represents the mystery, magic and fun of entertainment and encourages curiosity and exploration. Beyond this, the logotype aesthetically gained weight to ramp up to the bold, confident visuals of other players in this market.

Thinking outside of the frame

Starz is a multifaceted company. So, whatever piece of the Starz company the consumer comes in contact with, the logo and any other names (subbrands) combined with the logo are locked up to remain secure and consistent.

As the brand comes to life in every medium, from print, to online, to live action on screen it was important to create brand motifs inspired by light:

  • Lens Flares & Hexagons
  • Reflections & Refractions
  • Light Beams & Light Waves
  • Light Bursts & Particles
  • Volumetric Light and Shadows

And set in motion a visual brand that lives on to evolve beyond the initial concept. We left them with a verbal guide and a guide for their hearts and emotions to know what just feels right.

Beth Barbee and Design and image worked side-by-side with the Starz team to envision conceptual and emotional guiding principles for everything from visual brand motifs and photographs, to how light informs or how music evokes and inspires.

Brand imagery was directed to allude to a larger story, the tension that a bigger story exists beyond the single image. Yet, the human element needed to be represented in the imagery, in a way that made them look as if they were part of a scene that you merely stumbled upon.

For Starz, the ongoing creation of their brand mirrors a cinematic experience; it’s an unrestricted design foundation for growing the Starz brand — rather than the creation of a style guide to show them how to plug and play with static imagery. This constant evolution supports Starz Entertainment’s larger mantra — to explore endless entertainment possibilities.

Through the use of a simple aperture opening, Starz offers both the window to amazing content, and a place from which light and life bursts forth.