Hulu taps emerging artists from across the globe to reimagine its classic logo
Independent creators from every corner of the world were given free rein by streaming titan Hulu to come up with their own takes on the brand’s classic, lime-green logo. In an exclusive for The Drum, a handful of the artists involved in the project – as well as Hulu’s internal creatives – talk inspiration, creative processes and plans for the future.
Hulu has tapped a diverse group of artists and creators – hailing from Argentina, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Sweden – to create their own ‘Hulu IDs,’ unique reimaginations of Hulu’s classic green-lettered logo. The first of many interpretations roll out today in a series of videos shared across social media.
After determining that its in-stream logo IDs were in need of modernization, the streaming giant tasked its creative studio, Greenhouse – which both develops consumer-facing initiatives and partners with Hulu advertisers on their campaigns – with developing a solution.
The Greenhouse team saw an opportunity to spotlight and support emerging and independent artists. “Why not take something as core to our brand as the Hulu logo and challenge these brilliant minds to reimagine it in their own way?” says Reid Thompson, vice-president and head of creative at Greenhouse.
Hand-selecting the best creative minds
The crew set out to pinpoint the world’s best new and up-and-coming creative talent. “Perhaps the most important part of our mission was to shine a light on creators with a voice so unique that it simply must be heard,” says Andy Holton, who serves as team lead for brand video at Hulu’s Greenhouse.
Greenhouse scoured the internet for artists “who broke through the noise and captivated us with their point of view and how they expressed themselves,” he says. In addition to pinpointing emerging voices, the group also reached out to a handful of its favorite, more established artists to take a stab at the assignment. Plus, it tapped creative production agencies Titmouse and Psyop to help engage independent creatives and develop new IDs.
“We didn’t want people to simply do a job – we wanted people who were excited to help us re-imagine what a network ID can be,” says Holton.
Hulu also wanted the opportunity to uplift and support emerging artists. “We recognize the power that a company like Hulu has in giving passionate, diverse artists a platform.”
Building sandcastles in the sandbox
To ensure creatives were given enough free rein, the team adapted Hulu’s brand guidelines and specific parameters to what Holton calls a “sandbox” for artists to play in. In essence, creatives were challenged to do whatever they wanted within the bounds of play. “One of the most rewarding aspects of this endeavor has been the priceless look in the eyes of the artists the moment after they hear our initial pitch – that expression when they realize that what we’re really asking from them is to ‘do their thing’ is just kind of magical,” says Holton.
Still, there were specific needs that had to be met – aside from branding restrictions, whatever was produced needed to resonate with the viewers. Hulu’s Greenhouse team sought designs that would not only indicate the brand but would speak to and emphasize the programs that viewers choose to watch.
One Hulu ID was created by Washington state-based felt artist and stop-motion animator Andrea Love, who developed an intricate, industrial system made of felt – which, with the click of a few buttons and the pull of a wooly switch, illuminated a fuzzy, fabricated Hulu logo.
“I wanted to make something that featured my signature needle felted miniatures, while also drawing inspiration from the radioactive Hulu shade of green,” says Love. “It seemed well-suited for a science experiment, and I have always thought the steampunk aesthetic would translate really well into felt. For me, watching TV is an act of escapism and fantasy, and I used the science experiment analogy to convey the alchemy and magic involved in making great TV.”
Other creatives took vastly different approaches.
Motion design and direction studio Motion Mami is a small operation with some big clients under its belt, including Pepsi, Google and MTV. Run by co-founder Marlene Marmolejos, Motion Mami drew inspiration from Marmolejos’s background. With Dominican heritage, Marmolejos says that she has always been “surrounded by a culture that’s part African, part European and all vibrant.” She pulled inspiration from three unique genres “that have gone on to move the whole world” to create her ID, explaining that she “wanted to bring the world of Motion Mami to Hulu through a medley of genres that capture a glimpse of Afro-Latinx heritage.”
In a behind-the-scenes clip – which, alongside others of its kind, will be promoted on Hulu’s social channels – Marmolejos explains: “I love dancehall; I love bachata; I love music that makes me want to dance. So, seeing that I could transport that same energy into animation was magical. I’m so proud to be Latina in this space.”
Meanwhile, Korean artist and director Ihsu Yoon, who is based in New York, was inspired by the etymology of the word “hulu” – which in Mandarin translates to “gourd” – leading him to develop an ID that brings together themes of dining and technology. Sydney-based director Robertino Zambrano, who previously worked as a creative at Apple, created an 80s-influenced retro-futuristic ID, while Japanese animator and designer Shota Shimizu offered up a playful, cartoon-like take focused on faces.
The broader project was no easy task: it required Hulu’s Greenhouse team to coordinate with individuals and studios across time zones as well as creative styles, workflows and philosophies. “Sometimes, this meant 7am Zoom meetings with creators overseas, email communications at odd hours or even conducting entire meetings through a translator,” says Holton.
A diverse range of other studios and artists are participating in the Hulu ID project. The IDs themselves will roll out over the coming weeks.
Hulu is developing plans to expand the project, with future iterations already under way. “This is an evergreen initiative brimming with potential,” Holton says. “We look forward to creating IDs tied to some of our favorite Hulu titles and seasonal celebrations. Hulu fans are giving us their valuable time ... [in return,] we hope to inspire and engage with them, stoking their imagination while introducing them to amazingly talented artists.”