Everyone knows the Oscars of television, the Emmy Awards, when the brightest and beautiful stars of our favorite soaps and sitcoms walk down the red carpet, mouthing the words of their acceptance speeches to themselves under their breaths. The name, and its associated gold statuette of a bob-haired ballerina with wings holding up an atom, immediately conjures a mental picture.
But if you have heard of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), it's probably only as the rather stodgy-sounding organization that throws the Emmy Awards for one day every year. Yet the ATAS does so much more than just throw the Emmy Awards. It's an important nonprofit trade organization made up of over 18,000 members spanning performers, directors, producers, executives, and more.
In the popular eye, then, the Emmys have consumed the parent organization that birthed it. It was time for a rebrand, and that’s just what Siegel+Gale has given the newly rechristened Television Academy, along with a subtle redesign of the way the Emmy Awards' silhouette itself is represented in different mediums.
"Everyone knew the Television Academy as just the Emmys. They were, for most people, a one-day-a-year brand," explains Alyson Schonholz of Siegel+Gale. "We wanted to help them to a 365-day-a-year brand, and create an identity for them that would allow them to take credit for all the things they do."
To do that, Siegel+Gale did a couple of things. The first was a name change. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences wasn't just a mouthful; it made the organization sound so dusty as to be practically mummified. Rechristening the organization as the Television Academy in the public eye not only sounded more dynamic but friendlier and more human as well, like a place you might send your kid to day camp, instead of some place in Burbank where octogenarian television executives went to smoke cigars and complain about their phlebitis.
Another important aspect of the rebrand, though, was decoupling the Emmy Awards from the Television Academy's logo, while also making it more adaptable. The new logo features a vertical line to the right of the Television Academy word mark, representing a portal. "It's meant to be a very abstract representation of a screen, showing how we consume content, regardless of the device," explains Siegel+Gale's creative director Matthias Mencke. "What comes out of that portal can change depending on the context, just like in television today."
Like Optimus Prime hooking himself up to his trailer combat deck, when the Emmy Awards roll around once a year, the new word mark can connect to a representation of the Emmy statue, along with anything else that the Television Academy might want to link its brand to. And speaking of this graphical representation of the Emmy Award, while the physical form of the statue itself has not been changed, Siegel+Gale has updated its silhouette for a new era of cross-media devices.
"The problem we found when we came in was that the Academy had just a million different renderings of the Emmy statuette, which they used without a lot of consistency," Matthias tells me. "So when we came in, we gave them a unified representation of the statue that played well on television, in print, and digitally, and told them, 'Here's just one Emmy logo you can use for everything.'"
The new Emmy silhouette is at a slight three-quarters angle, to make it seem more like a real object. At the same time, her hemline, body, shape, and hairstyle have been adjusted to make her look more modern, while her pose has been slightly exaggerated to make her appear more fluid and graceful. It's not an Oscar, implacable, unyielding, and stern; it is not meant to be a golden scepter, held only by Hollywood royalty.
"An Emmy is for the people who work behind the scenes, as much as the actors who get all the glory," Matthias says. "The Emmy statue should have a form that appeals to everyone, because the Emmys are for everyone."
First unveiled earlier this month, the Television Academy's new logo and identity will be rolling out gradually in the coming months, starting on the academy's official website. Naturally, it will also be on display at the 2014 Emmy Awards later this year on August 25.
* - An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences as the National Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences.