Brand Direction: Samba TV

Kyuhee Jo / Katie North-Fisher
Brand strategy
Tools used
Powerpoint / Photoshop / Illustrator / Indesign / Webflow
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Samba TV is the global leader in TV data and analytics. With software embedded inside more than 46M TVs i across the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia, the mission of Samba TV is to use data and insights to transform the TV experience for TV watchers, brands, networks, and OEMs.

During my seven years as Head of Design, my responsibility was to create a cohesive brand and user experience that would make that vision a reality from the beginning to the end of the consumer journey. Samba is a complex company that presents unusual design challenges:
1/ a wide spectrum of consumers: TV watchers, casuals and hardcore; journalists; marketers in agencies and brands; OEMs;
2/an extraordinary diversity of touchpoints: TV, desktop, mobile products; paid reports built in Powerpoint, digital whitepapers and marketing collaterals, websites, videos…
3/ different time horizons for different products: while some products would see monthly updates, others like the TV OEM products have a much longer development life cycle and take years to develop and implement.

The brand needed direction: it was necessary to figure out first the key ideas that made Samba TV outstanding in the world of television: 

  • The incredible amount of data, science, and expertise that makes Samba TV insights unique. Samba TV gathers real-time data from tens of millions of TV worldwide, combines it with dozens of other datasets, processed and interpreted by some of the best data scientists in the world. The result is a comprehensive and unique understanding of what people like to watch on television.
  • The infinite excitement and energy of television, the center of the living room, and a medium that has dominated the zeitgeist of pop culture for the past 20 years. From Game of Thrones to Tiger King, from the Kardashians to the Mandalorian, TV is constantly creating unforgettable moments.
  • The inevitable rise of Samba TV to become the new standard in television data, and the company you trust the most to quickly make decisions, whether you want to know where to commit millions in advertising budget or which show to watch next.

These ideas informed every single visual decision that our Design team made for the brand. The concept of science and data made us seek out a visual treatment that would lean heavily on geometry and symmetry: in our illustration work, we relied heavily on the idea of blueprints, geometric patterns, and technical drawings to convey the precision and technology of our products. We combined the sharp, energetic red of Samba's logo with a hyper purple to create a signature gradient that would reflect the infinite excitement of television: the addition of that gradient to the black and white base ended up creating Samba TV's unique look.

The same ideas informed our typography choices. To represent the new classic, we went with a classic, Helvetica Neue, albeit with a specific kerning and line-spacing treatment to differentiate it. We paired it with a mono font to convey the technical side of the brand: we used this font specifically for KPIs and numbers on research reports and data products. Finally, to bring excitement and energy, we selected another style of Helvetica Neue: the Heavy Extended style, which we used as an accent on social media and consumer products.

Devices are an essential part of the Samba storytelling: Samba solutions combine televisions, connect TV boxes, phones, tablets, and computers, so we wanted to make the representation of these devices uniquely recognizable. Once again, informed by the key ideas outlined above, we used an isometric grid and combined technical drawings with skeuomorphism elements to achieve a unique and exciting style for the brand.

It is a lot of work to internalize brand guidelines, so we wanted to give people a headstart. The only way to fully execute such an ambitious brand was to make sure the entire company was involved with it. However, it would have been foolish to think that non-designers would adhere to the level of detail and thought that designers must abide by; we needed to figure out how to involve the entire company without sacrificing quality and consistency.

To do so, we met our colleagues in the middle in various ways. While we documented all the aspects of the brand into a comprehensive brand book, we also produced a simplified 10-page guide for non-designers. We removed every word that was too design-specific, simplified the document's language, and made it more inviting. For abstract concepts like brand principles, we provided people with a concrete checklist that made evaluating whether things were on-brand a lot easier and a lot more objective. We also provided design office hours to allow our colleagues to ask questions, clarify specific points of the design system, and for us, better understand the context in which our colleagues operate and how we can help them build on-brand materials.

Brand Direction: Samba TV

We also provided our colleagues with an extensive set of templates: Powerpoint presentations, charts, one and two-pagers, emails, signatures, icons, and illustrations. Templates helped empower our colleagues to be an integral part of the branding process; it also freed time for the Design team to focus on the more complex requests. Samba produces and distributes thousands of presentations every year: 97% of employees use Powerpoint for internal and external purposes. We envision every employee to be a flagbearer and caretaker, and to that end, we rebuilt the presentation templates to make creating on-brand presentations as easy as possible. Overall, templates reduced siloing and made the production a better partnership between non-designers and designers.

Finally, we built, an intranet full of design resources easily accessible to all. This central repository helped us ensure that everyone had easy access to the latest version of all the templates and design materials; it also provided Design a space to announce new releases, project updates, and future roadmaps. And if employees had a specific request that the templates and resources wouldn't cover, we also built a project inquiry system via Asana, accessible directly from the intranet.

With confidence in the foundation of our brand and the buy-in of the leadership and the rest of the company, we delivered continuously high-quality marketing assets: PPT presentations, two-sheeters, landing pages, emails. Templatizing these assets allowed us to provide these materials on time, reduce uncertainty, and provide consistency, which helped, in turn, strengthen brand recognition in the market.


The same principles applied to our products: the key ideas that governed the Samba brand also impacted the design system of our B2B and B2C products. While they serve consumers at the opposite end of the spectrum, we strived to make these products feel like part of the same family. They share the same typography, color palette, icons and illustrations, and visual styles. They also share the same visual goals:

  • Highlight unique insights that help users make their decisions.
  • Convey trust, energy, and excitement.
  • Leverage beautiful TV imagery.
  • Feel cutting-edge.

The best compliment we ever got was that the brand made Samba feel like a much bigger company: thanks to the brand and all the elements that created it, our colleagues felt more confident and excited to be a part of this company. Building the brand, developing it, and involving an entire company in the process has been one of the best experiences of my career.