With Conan Aboard, TBS Bets On A Wacky, Animated Rebranding [Video]

After successfully courting Conan, the network attempts to turn it’s half-circle “smile” icon into a cuddly character.

When TBS, the station of comedy reruns, announced that it had snagged Conan O?Brien, media observers responded with a collective “huh?” But what at first blush seemed like an odd pairing, made perfect sense, not so much for what the network had been but for what it was aiming to become: a network of original programming with a target audience of 25-year-old males. (In other words: goodbye, Sex and the City; hello, Family Guy.) Following its Conan coup, the station has stepped up its rebranding efforts, recently launching a goofy, animated version of its old smile logo.


“Because now they have Conan, which is a super big deal, they wanted the logo to have a little more personality,” says Yolanda Santosa, the creative director of ferroconcrete, the L.A. agency heading up the rebrand. Now, the logo is a character unto itself, hamming it up as he bounces through the TV frame like a piece of Flubber. Here’s how he’s described on ferroconcrete’s website:

He’s mischievous, handsome — some say studly, even — and just plain fun. He’s also a bit of a showoff as he interacts with onscreen characters and vies for the spotlight. His arsenal of expressions and gestures — he waves, jumps, and bows as he charms, goofs, and mimics — makes him one of history’s most versatile logos.

Well, the clip of him morphing into Conan’s hair is kinda cool.

But he wasn’t always such a three-dimensional guy. In fact, Santosa’s winning proposal was for a 2-D character, with “fun stuff” like stars, bubbles, and typography coming out of his mouth. Later, she opted to flesh out the shape that would come across as simple, bold, and masculine but with a sense of humor. To balance the black-and-white logo, Santosa chose vibrantly colored backdrops.

The move that’ll horrify grammarians: Reducing the tagline to one word, “veryfunny” (in the brand’s new typface, Katarine). Santosa assures Co.Design that there was a reason behind flouting the rules of English grammar. “By putting them together, it’s an ownable word.” Makesense?

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.