Universal Favourite rebrands local radio station as national hip-hop and R&B platform

The Edge 96.1 has transformed from a local Western Sydney station to a multi-faceted, national platform for hip-hop and R&B. Universal Favourite explain how its team went about it.

Hip-hop and R&B are becoming increasingly dominant in youth culture right now. And so Western Sydney radio station The Edge 96.1 sensed a rare opportunity to rebrand and relaunch nationally, with the help of design agency Universal Favourite.

From naming through to the outdoor launch campaign, Universal Favourite worked with the station to rebuild its new brand. Relaunching as CADA, an Australian youth media and entertainment enterprise, it's now live across multi-platforms and serving up all things inclusive, exclusive and adjacent to hip-hop and R&B music and culture.

Although an already-established radio station, to become the community-focused youth channel it truly wanted to be, The Edge 96.1 needed a complete brand overhaul, explains Universal Favourite founder and executive creative director Dari Israelstam.

First, some context. "The commercial radio category is typically noisy and crass, fronted by a swathe of white, ageing hosts with clear political leanings," says Dari. "When it comes to the youth entertainment space, there's not a lot out there that actually serves and reflects its audience.

"And, when your community of listeners are largely working class and often ethnically diverse, representation is paramount. So it was crucial to CADA to give a platform to those within the hip-hop and R&B community and, in turn, allow its listeners to feel seen, heard and inspired."

Universal Favourite began with strategy, forming the brand idea of 'Closer To Culture'. "This gave us the leaping-off point for the visual identity: the concept of CADA as more than just a place for music, but a curator of culture," says Dari. "Culture courses through every segment, every event, everything CADA talks about. It ebbs and flows each minute and day. It's a fluid and constant pulse of the latest, the relevant, the interesting. The talked about."

A key part of the rebrand was a new name, and it was a particularly challenging brief. "We worked with copywriter Cat Wall to come up with something that not only sounded good on air but was ownable in a number of trademark classes to ensure longevity and opportunity for the brand.

"Born from the idea of cadence, CADA reflects the brand's role in setting the tempo for hip-hop and R&B in Australia and its drive to ensure its listeners never miss a beat."

The logo, meanwhile, formed the heart of the visual identity. "It's both soft and strong, allowing it to stretch from pop to hip-hop," says Dari. "It came from the idea that CADA is a melting pot of culture, with its rounded corners mimicking a literally melted feel. If you look closely, the mark is also a slightly abstract vinyl record: a nod to the rich history behind the music they play."

With CADA's role as a content creator, the logo needed to work across multiple media streams. From podcasts to music videos to festivals and sponsorships, Universal Favourite created a system that matched the flexibility of the multi-faceted business behind it. "Coupled with striking typography, it stands out in a sea of dated competitors, holds its own next to partners and sits comfortably on every platform," says Dari.

The type system was designed to straddle the line between pop and hip-hop, showcasing the versatility and ensuring it didn't isolate any of the platform's listeners.

Universal Favourite used Commercial Type's Graphik as the primary typeface, its multiple weights and widths providing the flexibility and cohesion it needed. "While the boldness of Graphik grounds the brand, Commercial Type's Ayer complements it, producing a distinctive and highly-ownable combo.

"Given CADA's vast and varied content, the colour palette needed to be broad and flexible. While generally bright and energetic, it's easily suited to hip-hop and rap, using gradients interchangeably with solid colours to add an extra level of adaptability."

Regarding art direction, the team took a deliberately eclectic approach. "The brand can do and be whatever it needs to," says Dari, "from artist-supplied photography to album covers, 3D illustrations, deep-etched images and icons. It's an idea that courses through everything CADA does, with every show host encouraged to bring their own vibe to the brand and not feel restricted."

Shot by Billy Zammit, the photography style is a fun and vibrant celebration of the talent, fans and people who bring it all together. "Our illustration style also channels this energy," adds Dari. "From 3D to custom emojis, the openness of its direction leaves CADA open to collaborations with all kinds of creatives who can bring the brand to life in their own way."

The motion and design system centres on the idea that CADA curates what you want, bringing the best of culture, Hip Hop, R&B and everything around it front and centre. "Images and content are layered and gathered in the Z-space, with a new piece of culture coming into focus as it comes closer to the viewer," says Dari.

"By using depth and focal blur, we can let a central element command attention while flanking it with character and fun. Footage and stills can be worked into the system interchangeably to create dynamic interactions and transitions that allow the brand to grow and shift into different categories."

Flexibility and scale were integral to the brand system, and its simplicity allows it to seamlessly move from outdoor to social to digital. This was first tested in the brand reveal, where Universal Favourite worked with CADA to showcase its new name, logo and talent in an awareness campaign across the streets and several social applications.


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