A Q&A with Cheryl Family on Business and Creativity
Viacom early on established its legacy as one of design. Twenty-First Century Design at Viacom — a one-of-a-kind installation that was curated in-house in October — took a comprehensive look at the history and evolution of branding across Viacom’s many properties. Created by Catalyst, Viacom’s in-house creative agency, the exhibit covered everything from network identity and costumes to sound and virtual reality design. To learn more about impact of the exhibit, V spoke with Cheryl Family, Catalyst’s SVP of Brand Strategy + Creative.
V: Where did the concept for Twenty-First Century Design at Viacom come from?
Cheryl Family: In my role here, I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes us different. Our creative approach has resulted in a world of content that connects powerfully with fans. You can really see that even though these brands are very individualized, they share this common thread of prizing creativity and championing amazing design work. It really sets Viacom apart in the industry, and it’s something to celebrate.
V: How did the exhibit come together?
CF: We went out to every brand with a simple directive: send us your best stuff. Our first round resulted in about 2,000 submissions. In the end, we were able to display more than 600 pieces. The Catalyst team who worked on it did an amazing job in making sure there was a consistent through line and standard. Not an easy task with so much great work to choose from!
That central design element — the roman numerals with the interchangeable elements — was a very deliberate homage to the fantastic variety of Viacom’s creative work. With so much going on, that visual through line allowed the brands to shine individually.
We also asked for stories with the brands’ submissions, and conducted interviews with creatives across the company to give an in-depth perspective on the way projects came together.
We focused in on the ways our brands come to life – network identity, show promotions, posters, prosocial, B2B, internal marketing – even widening the lens to areas like costume, set, title and sound design, virtual reality and beyond. The costume archive team at Paramount was a really great partner to us and sent some fantastic pieces. It felt really important to give people a view of the enormous world of creative decisions that make for impactful content and to spotlight the immensely talented people that make it all happen.
V: What was the reaction to Twenty-First Century Design at Viacom?
CF: It’s been a phenomenal reaction. It gave employees something to rally around — a fresh perspective on everything that we do and continue to do. It also gave external clients a new way to see the power of our brands and the students we invited from different schools a chance to understand Viacom — and to get excited about what their future part in that might be.
V: What’s next?
CF: There was such a great response that the exhibit will be traveling. More on that to come!
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