The CW unveils a new branding look, including a 'Hot Sauce' color palette

The CW makes its appearance spicy. Just in time for Sunday's Critics' Choice Awards broadcast, the Nexstar-run netlet is unveiling an „evolution” in its logo and brand identity. This includes a new red-orange color palette that the network calls „CW Hot Sauce.”

„The CW is in the midst of a brand transformation, and a new network deserves a new look and feel,” said Chris Spadaccini, CW chief marketing officer. „When I came here, I came here only to find a logo that was a little dated, and there was really zero consistency in how we presented our brand. Everything just seemed so different. Even though I loved the programming and the marketing creative was great, there was no well-defined brand behind it. That was the project. It was motivating [The CW entertainment president] Pratt [Schwartz] He hired me.”

To the untrained eye, the new CW logo looks like the old one. But it did indeed make a difference: most notably, the „The” in „The CW” logo was removed, so its logo now reads „CW.” To be clear, “The CW” will still refer to itself as “The CW.” But the logo will now be replaced by „The”.

„We came to the conclusion that we needed to change the logo and not read 'The' anymore,” Spadaccini said. “Currently, the space placed on the logo is no less than digital formats. You can't read it on streaming, you can't read it on social media. Nothing can be read on a mobile screen, which is where we engage with our customers the most. So that creates problems.”

„The” won't work with some of the network's new franchises, such as Sports, Spadaccini said. „We're not 'CW Sports.' We're 'CW Sports.' We don't offer 'The CW Original,' we offer 'The CW Original.' But we're still very much 'The CW.' That's what people refer to us as. That's what the press refers to us as. Even if I try to give up, it's impossible, because in culture we're always 'CW.' It's not 'The NBC' or 'The ABC,' so that sets us apart.

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Spadaccini noted that the logo changes are not drastic, other than removing the „The.” (The network could consider a full logo change, but it could also change the name — the CW doesn't want to do this.) But the logo lettering has been done a touch bolder. And perhaps most obviously, the decision to switch from the CW's longtime green color to a hot sauce color will be totally noticeable.

„Color selection is challenging because of how irregular the terrain is,” Spadaccini said. „We did a whole map of all the logos in the space, and between Disney and Max and Amazon and Fox, the blue is too noisy. We had to stay away from that, and we landed on a reddish orange that's kind of hot orange, which we label as 'hot sauce.' , we think is cool because it's dynamic, accessible, and stands out.” Complementing this color is a pink she calls „icing” and a pale green she calls „mint.”

Spatacini said he's probably most proud of the new network logo that will be included in on-air spots. Called „stage,” the CW's logo expands and contracts to „stage” where information is shared with viewers.

„We wanted to try to find a symbol that we could own, a version of Paramount Mountain,” he said. „It's really born from our brand DNA. It comes directly from the logo, and it creates a device that holds anything we choose for our audience. It can hold copy; it can expand and reveal information and it can be a pedestal or platform where we display our stars or our show titles. It can be moved and swiped to switch from screen to screen. It's a very cool and flexible symbol, which is absolutely nothing right now. But over time, more people will see it and engage with it, and they'll associate it back with our brand. I think that might be our thing.

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The marketing chief is excited about another subtle aspect that he hopes will lead to something bigger: a sonic branding system centered on audio from an actual match recorded by the team. „That kind of plays a little bit of hot sauce,” he said. „It ignites. It ignites your emotion and gets people excited about what The CW is going to bring to our platform. It's really cool, and we think there's a lot more work to be done.”

You still won't see — ever — a new network slogan. The CW's previous mantra, „Dare to Defeat,” has been retired and will not be replaced.

„I'm not a big fan of taglines, but I wouldn't rule it out,” said Spatacini, who in his previous two decades at HBO participated in one of the screen's most famous slogans: „It's not TV. It's HBO.” „Given how competitive our space is, I think it's hard to come up with a short, bad line that actually has real meaning and is supported by shows that support that line or a personality that supports that line. This is not what we are thinking about now. My hope is that we will come out with a brand campaign in the fall.

Spadaccini said the brand revision will go into effect on this Sunday's broadcast, along with social manipulation. The network is working with affiliates because that transition will take some time, and a brand refresh is also underway on The CW's streaming platform. Some of the CW's major market stations reacquired the network when tensions arose between then-owners Warner Bros. and CBS with the then-station group Tribune. It is still evolving as everyone is under Nexstar.

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„If you're scrolling through your guide to New York and L.A., you don't see any mention of The CW,” Spadaccini noted. „That makes our job challenging when we're trying to drive eyeballs toward CW, and it's not something that consumers in those markets can easily find. But it's something that will evolve over time.

Sunday viewers will see a new 60-second spot highlighting the new look while promoting new seasons of Sophie Turner's „Joan,” „All American” and „Walker,” as well as the final season of „Superman and Lois.” Unwritten content and more.

UK-based agency DixonBaxi worked with new CW brand creative senior VP Rich Browd to help with the brand refresh.

„Any sign we create needs to be on display to attract Central American and coastal visitors,” Spadaccini said. „It should reflect the network's new direction and be flexible enough to support a bigger push into live sports, as well as a broader lineup of programming.”

Here's an overview:

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