BLOCK & TACKLE takes us BTS of truTV’s rebrand

Creative studio BLOCK & TACKLE has unleashed its comprehensive rebrand for AT&T WarnerMedia’s truTV, now appearing across the cable network’s linear, digital and social channels. The network is the home for original, creator-driven comedy series with a distinct point of view, and has a growing legion of fans engaging across its multiverse.

According to B&T’s Partners and Creative Directors Adam Gault and Ted Kotsaftis, the network set the stage for the rebrand with a simple brief: Content first. Keep it simple. Have fun. “Needless to say, the brief was a dream for us,” Gault confirmed. “Sophisticated creative executions of irreverent content are our strong suit.”

The extensive design package is surprising, energetic and entertaining, with countless inspired, brand-savvy touches. B&T dug deep to celebrate truTV’s iconoclastic content, while keeping it simple and fun for viewers. Watch below:

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“truTV is loud and audacious,” said Kotsaftis. “To position the channel, we created an identity with a scrappy, DIY approach that’s content-forward and nimble. The hand-crafted attitude embodies the brand’s ethos while elevating the creator-driven content. And, the incorporation of footage into every element means that the graphics feel tailored to the content from the start.”

The network was also intent on bolstering its brand presence to maximize distribution opportunities across all platforms, including those related to the forthcoming launch of HBO Max. B&T’s bold design system ensures visual clarity across all platforms and devices, while the quirky and raw motion language keeps things engaging.

The new brand system is built on three main tenets:

  • Content first: The system creatively employs two primary visual devices that interact with full screen content in different ways. Paste-Up is a choppy technique that stacks layers of content and graphic blocks to create backplates for messaging. These stacks can be “pasted” anywhere on screen. Trails employs a fluid “mouse dragging” effect that endlessly duplicates the content it passes over. Both devices seamlessly incorporate the footage they’re used on, so the possibilities are endless. 
  • Keep it simple: The three-color palette is inspired by traditional R/G/B TV signals, creating a punchy look that doesn’t overwhelm the content. All of the text is set in Neue Plak Extended Black with a simple 2:1 ratio between sizes. One font to rule them all.
  • Have fun: Responding to the experimental nature of the network, all of the graphic motion has a hand-made, improvisational quality. The animation feels irreverent and fun and made by a human… the perfect graphic metaphor of the network itself.

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Spirited Experimentation Pays Off

B&T has collaborated with the network’s VP Broadcast Design Kate Allen, Senior Design Director Christopher Brooks and Senior Design Manager Josh Bradford on previous assignments, and those past experiences set the creative bar extremely high.

“The TBS/TNT/truTV team is always looking to push the envelope further, which is both liberating and challenging,” said B&T’s Senior Producer Megan Anderson. “But we love to experiment, get weird, and challenge expectations. Having full client support in those pursuits is exhilarating.”

Rooted in “content first,” B&T had a blast infusing their designs with the madcap spirit of the network’s flagship comedies, and emphasizing the short, repeatable content remained mission critical. “We took the content and repeated it in as many different ways as we could think of – cascading, stacking, echoing, looping, grids, slices, etcetera,” Anderson continued. “We pushed the idea all over the place to see what stuck, then dialed-in the concept from there. Ultimately we focused on the simplest techniques that still hammered home the concept, while letting the content do its thing.”

For this project, B&T took advantage of an often overlooked feature in After Effects, motion sketch. “Nothing fancy,” explained Gault. “We drew the motion paths with our mice and then cleaned up the keyframes.” The simple approach gives the animation an eccentric human touch.

For this project, B&T took advantage of an often overlooked feature in After Effects, motion sketch. “Nothing fancy,” explained Gault. “We drew the motion paths with our mice and then cleaned up the keyframes.” The simple approach gives the animation an eccentric human touch. “The great thing with this technique is that new animation can be easily created to work with new content.” 

The package’s custom toolkits are equally well thought out. While the motion language is quirky and free-form, the actual deliverables needed a bulletproof set of rules to ensure brand consistency.

“Producers, editors, and designers who are rippling out elements for promos need to be able to quickly create on-brand graphics, without having their hands tied,” Gault added. “Our solution is a combination of loose guidelines and hard rules… for example, the text can be any size that works (make it bigger!) as long as the ratio between text sizes remains 2:1” 


CLIENT: WarnerMedia

SVP, Brand Creative TBS/TNT/TruTV: Bret Havey
VP, Brand Creative TBS/TNT/TruTV: Kathryn Allen
Senior Art Director, Brand Creative TBS/TNT/TruTV: Chris Brooks
Senior Design Manager, Brand Creative TBS/TNT/TruTV: Josh Bradford


Creative Directors: Adam Gault, Ted Kotsaftis
Producer: Megan Anderson
Lead Design: Yun Chen
Design: Adam Gault, Daveion Thompson, Wei-Shen Wang
Animation: Adam Gault, Ted Kotsaftis, Mike Russo, Wei-Shen Wang, Gung-Kai Koo
Toolkit: David Jouppi
GFX Sizzle: Adam Gault, Mike Russo, Wei-Shen Wang
Sizzle Music Track: Skeleton Boogie by Senbei