Universal Favorite transforms local radio station into national hip-hop and R&B platform


Hip-hop and R&B are becoming more and more dominant in youth culture right now. 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 Favorite.

From naming to outdoor launch campaign, Universal Favorite worked with the station to rebuild its new brand. Relaunched as CADA, an Australian youth media and entertainment company, it now streams across multiple platforms and offers everything inclusive, exclusive and adjacent to hip-hop and R&B music and culture.

Although an established radio station, to become the community-focused youth channel it truly wanted to be, The Edge 96.1 needed a complete brand overhaul, says the founder and Universal Favorite’s Executive Creative Director, Dari Israelstam.

First, a little background. “The commercial radio category is generally loud and crass, run by a bunch of aging white hosts with clear political leanings,” Dari says. “When it comes to the youth entertainment space, there isn’t much that really serves and reflects its audience.

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

Universal Favorite started with the strategy, forming the brand idea “Closer To Culture”. “That gave us the starting point for the visual identity: the concept of CADA as more than just a place for music, but a curator of culture,” Dari explains. “Culture runs through every segment, every event, everything CADA talks about. It comes and goes every minute and every day. It’s a smooth, constant pulse of the latest, relevant, interesting. What we’re talking about. »

A key part of the rebranding was a new name, and that was a particularly tough case. “We worked with copywriter Cat Wall to come up with something that not only sounded great on air, but could be owned across a number of brand classes to ensure brand longevity and desirability.

“Born from the idea of ​​cadence, CADA reflects the brand’s role in setting the tempo of hip-hop and R&B in Australia and its desire to ensure its listeners never miss a beat.”

The logo, meanwhile, was the heart of the visual identity. “It’s both soft and strong, allowing it to span from pop to hip-hop,” Dari explains. “It was born out of the idea that CADA is a melting pot of culture, with its rounded corners mimicking a literally melted feel. If you look closely, the brand is also a slightly abstract vinyl record: a nod to the rich history behind the music they play.”

With CADA’s role as content creator, the logo needed to work across multiple media streams. From podcasts and music videos to festivals and sponsorships, Universal Favorite created a system that matched the flexibility of the multi-faceted business that underpins it. “Coupled with striking typography, it stands out in a sea of ​​dated competitors, stands its ground next to partners, and sits comfortably on all platforms,” ​​says Dari.

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

Universal favorite used Business-like graphik as its primary typeface, its multiple weights and widths giving it the flexibility and cohesion it needed. “While Graphik’s boldness founds the brand, Commercial Type’s Ayer complements it, producing a distinctive and very clean combo.

“Given CADA’s vast and varied content, the color palette had to be broad and flexible. While generally bright and energetic, it easily suited hip-hop and rap, using gradients interchangeably with solid colors to add an extra level of adaptability.”

In terms of artistic direction, the team adopted a deliberately eclectic approach. “The brand can do and be anything it needs,” says Dari, “from artist-provided photography to album covers, 3D artwork, deep etched images, and icons. It’s an idea that runs 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 photographic style is a fun and dynamic celebration of the talent, the fans and the people who bring it together. “Our illustration style also channels that energy,” adds Dari. “From 3D to custom emojis, the openness of its leadership 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 is centered around the idea that CADA organizes what you want, putting the best of culture, hip-hop, R&B and everything around it front and center. “Images and content are layered and brought together in Z-space, with a new element of culture coming into focus as it gets closer to the viewer,” Dari explains.

“By using depth and focal blur, we can let a central element grab attention while accompanying it with character and fun. Images and stills can be integrated into the system interchangeably to create interactions and dynamic transitions that allow the brand to grow and move into different categories.”

Flexibility and scale were built into the branding system, and its simplicity allows it to seamlessly scale from outdoor to social to digital. This was first tested during the brand reveal, where Universal Favorite worked with CADA to showcase their new name, logo and talent in a street awareness campaign and several social apps.

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