Move over, Nova Boy

New logo and identity for Nova FM

Network logo before and after
Network logo before and after

The Nova Network is a group of five Australian radio stations owned wholly or in part by NOVA Entertainment. The inaugural station, Nova 96.9 in Sydney, began airing in 2001. Nova targets the under-40 audience with top 40 hits, dance music, as well as comedy and talk shows. Each station has its own local Breakfast show and daytime presenters, with the exception being Australia’s two largest markets, Sydney and Melbourne, which share the same daytime announcers. The Drive and Night shows are rated #1 in the country and are networked across all stations.

NOVA Entertainment just launched a refreshed Nova brand, the first in over six years. The new look will extend to on-air programming, new mobile apps, the websites, social media, signage, merchandise and street teams. No credit has been given, but here are the non-technical things they have to say about it:

The brand will have a reinvigorated look and feel to reflect Nova’s passion to provide the freshest music and highlight the power of live entertainment.

The refresh will also reflect Nova’s commitment to brightening listeners’ lives and staying in touch with the vibe of each local city.

Release from NOVA Entertainment

Station logo before and after (example shown is Nova 96.9 in Sydney)
Station logo before and after (example shown is Nova 96.9 in Sydney)

The old logo featured Nova Boy, a mascot of sorts that had been around since the network’s inception. (You can see its original form here.) Nova Boy was portrayed as a cheeky, lovable, off-air personality that personified the otherwise aural brand. It was a nice illustration, with a distinct shape, and was very recognisable. Its relationship with the word “NOVA”, in size and position, felt spot on, in a way that each element bolstered the presence of the other.

“NOVA” itself, along with other headlines throughout the identity, were set in Tempo (how fitting), a typeface evidently inspired by Futura. Its heavy weight (incidentally, its only weight) and no-nonsense forms lent it confidence, and perhaps a slightly masculine feel to the identity.

Network logo detail
Network logo detail

The new logo gets rid of Nova Boy, but he’s still seen on merchandise and outdoor pieces with a revised look, which I’ll get to in a moment.

“Nova” is now set in Gotham Black, tightly kerned, with modifications to the “o” and “a”. The treatment to the “o” is reminiscent of the Beats logo (another suspiciously fitting association), or akin to Nintendo’s logo for amiibo. So while it’s not a new approach in my designer eyes, it makes sense here because the negative space is shaped like an earphone, denoting music etc.

The cut through the “a” has been executed well and looks quite natural. I would even say it’s the best thing about the logo.

The local frequencies appended to the logo are in Century Gothic, which contrasts well with Gotham’s weight and proportions, and adds a much-needed secondary colour to the identity.

Nova street team before
Nova street team before (example shown is of Sydney 96.9 team) (Source)
Nova street team decked out in the new branding featuring the revised Nova Boy
Nova street team after (example shown is of Melbourne 100 team) (Source)
Nova Boy on ice cream cup and branded vehicle
Nova Boy on ice cream cup and branded vehicle

So Nova Boy has been revised to include some blue from the logo, and his headphones are a bit smaller. That’s all okay… apart from the fact that his eyes look completely lifeless now. Where before he had a cheeky sideward glance, the reduction of the eyes to non-directional dots means he now stares blankly ahead.

Bus stop signage
Bus stop signage
Nova Now (a webpage for live stream audio and a feed of the network's latest social media posts)
Nova Now (a webpage for live stream audio and a feed of the network’s latest social media posts)

A new addition to the visual identity is a script font, which is used for things like phrases, ampersands and punctuation. It’s a nice contrast to the geometric fonts in the logo proper, however… it feels out of sync (geddit?) with the on-air identity. Its light, airy form evokes relaxation and suggests the network offers easy listening tunes, but people don’t listen to Nova to relax (well, I don’t); that’s what its sister station, smoothfm, is for.

Billboard
Billboard
Podcast image style before and after
Podcast image style before and after

In application, the “o” in the logo becomes a subtle background element which just disappears if you’re not paying attention. Compared to the striking red band and black type in previous assets, the new looks leaves me wanting more.

Website before
Website before
Website after
Website after

Overall, the new identity is pleasing but it just doesn’t have the same presence as the previous one. I’m not sure about Nova’s current audience profile, but the logo feels too generic compared to those of competing networks Kiis and Hit, which both use bold graphic devices. The new script font softens the visuals even further and, although nice, doesn’t convey the young, cool, “hit music” vibe I associate with Nova.

On a positive note, the new identity is more dynamic and the addition of the blue gives adds some variety to the colour palette.

With Nova Boy now on the sidelines, it seems to me that the new identity has grown up and left its audience behind. So for me, it’s not a hit.

Watch the promo video below if you enjoy awkward celebrity endorsements and poor green screen lighting.

Related Links:

NOVA Entertainment