National Geographic Channel's recent reinvention, and National Geographic's expanded partnership with 21st Century Fox last fall, is ushering in a global rebrand for the entire company.
As part of the rebrand, all of National Geographic's global properties have a new tagline, "Further," while National Geographic Channel will be dropping "Channel" from its name, and will be known simply as National Geographic going forward.
National Geographic will have one brand logo across all of its media platforms as part of the overhaul, which will include a redesign of its magazine, website, all digital and social channels and even the company's D.C. headquarters.
The charge, said Declan Moore, CEO, National Geographic Partners, was to "reinvent National Geographic for the 21st century and in so doing, establish the world's leading premium brand in science, exploration and adventure."
That also means dropping "Channel" from the name of its flagship network. The word "suggests this linear television destination, and increasingly, that's not the only place that people are consuming us," said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic global television networks. "That does seem a little bit archaic."
Monroe said she hadn't talked to advertisers about the name change before unveiling it to the press, but the company has "slowly" been having conversations with select advertisers and affiliate partners about the rebrand.
The rebrand will coincide with the Nov. 14 premiere of the network's event miniseries, Mars, which "marks a real turning point in the transformation of our network," said Monroe. "What began as an exercise to overhaul the look and feel of the television network has become a comprehensive rebrand of every single National Geographic consumer touchpoint."
As part of the rebrand, "we sought a brand tagline, something that could define us, that could really serve as our north star," said Monroe. The company settled on "Further," which is "a rallying cry, an ever-shifting marketing of progress. … by definition, it never ends. It knows no bounds," she said. The tagline conveys to audiences and advertisers that "we embody a relentless pursuit to go deeper."
The company also considered "Farther," but that word only implies distance. "You can 'further' your understanding of the world, but you can't 'farther' your understanding of the world. So we liked the double meaning, and it does translate around the world," Monroe said.
Since she was promoted last November, Monroe has been overhauling National Geographic Channel, stressing quality programming over quantity as she shifted to fewer shows with a higher budgets and A-list talent, and indicated to Adweek earlier this year that more expansive, company-wide changes would be coming by year's end.
Her upfront presentation featured an emphasis on scripted programs, and the company also reduced its ad load by up to 50 percent for new series and specials, with documentaries airing commercial-free.
Because Monroe's work at rebranding the network over the past year inspired the global rebrand, the network's content won't change beyond what she had already put in motion a year ago. But the network will have a new on-air look, with revamped IDs and brand animations, and a new campaign with talent including Jason Silva (Brain Games), Neil deGrasse Tyson (StarTalk) and Richard Bacon (Explorer).
National Geographic worked with branding agency Gretel NY on the rebrand. Next year, the overhaul will extend to include a Further section in National Geographic magazine (covering the latest in exploration and science), a Further web series and more.
A year ago, 21st Century Fox expanded its partnership with National Geographic—the companies had worked together on the company's TV channels for two decades—and combined all of National Geographic's media properties, including magazines, books, TV production studio and children's media and maps into a single company. Fox owns 73 percent of the venture, while National Geographic Partners and National Geographic Society own 27 percent.
While National Geographic's rebrand was inspired by all of its properties finally coming together, it wasn't a mandate from its new owner. "It's a natural outgrowth from the formation of the partnership," said Monroe. "It was amongst ourselves that we said, we need to reintroduce this company to ourselves, to the world, and present it differently and make sure that the vessel of this brand lives up to the promise of this content strategy that we have."