By their logos shall you know them

Blame Martin Lambie-Nairn. He designed the Channel 4 logo, and now the name of the game is branding, rebranding and re-rebranding.

SKY IS at it, ITV's at it, last year even the BBC did it. In channel terms, anyone who's anyone is having an image revamp, an on-air facelift or a branding exercise. Last month ITV announced that this autumn it will have a whole new face, courtesy of the design firm English + Pockett. Sky 1 got a new look last week and, by September, every single Sky channel will be rebranded.

It's that oft-cited digital future rearing its head that has caused the present vogue for an all-singing, all-dancing "ident". The fact that ITV has not had a new on-air identity for 10 years speaks volumes for the state of marketing in terrestrial television. When there were just the three channels, who really needed to lure viewers with strong, smartly targeted, integrated branding?

When Channel 4 launched in 1982 with its 3-D, computer-generated figure "4", it gave us all a shock. Suddenly everyone wanted an animated logo, and the regional ITV companies set their in-house graphics departments on the case. Channel idents had become a viable business, and Martin Lambie-Nairn - creator of the "4" - was the designer everyone wanted. Darrell Pockett, whose firm English + Pockett is now writing briefs for the creatives on the ITV account, also designed the present ITV identity back in 1988. He notes a change: "It was very much a political exercise then. It was pre-franchise round and the whole of the ITV network wanted to be seen as solid, but I could never quite understand why - they all obviously wanted to represent their own interests."

With the consolidation of ownership, things are different for ITV. "This isn't a political exercise - it's to try and get an identity for ITV, which hasn't got one as such because it's a federation of companies." Pockett's challenge is to "re- establish the identity of channel 3 and put over its merits as the popular entertainment channel".

The third button on the remote has so many different names, viewers don't even know what to call it. The north-east franchise occasionally known as Tyne Tees Television has, in particular, suffered in recent years. For decades just known as Tyne Tees, it was rebranded as Channel 3 North East when Yorkshire Television took over. Local uproar led to that move being reversed last year when Granada took over Yorkshire Tyne Tees. Confused?

By contrast, Channel 5 launched last year with one of the best targeted off-air marketing campaigns ever. But, says Lambie-Nairn, it wasn't enough. "A channel launch is very different to revamping one already in existence. You're able to launch on promises. In the end, of course, if the product doesn't live up to the brand, viewers reject it."

Lambie-Nairn, who reinvented BBC2 in 1988, is adamant on this point: "All branding is 90 per cent programming, but it is possible to have a brand which says one thing when the programmes say another. BBC2's brand was old, dull and snobbish, and the programmes were radically turning into anything but that." His task was to align the branding with the content, and the multiple awards that have been won by BBC2's idents bear testimony to his success.

Sky 1's new look is based on a similar principle. Made by the comedy producer Tiger Aspect, a series of new idents focuses on the channel's key programmes. Behind-the-scenes experts from Friends and ER pass on some of the secrets of the shows, such as how to put on a surgical rubber glove in two seconds. A new logo is based around a television set-type box which, according to the general manager, Elisabeth Murdoch, shows that "we are the lens on your world".

It's the first in a concerted move by Sky to refocus every single channel. Murdoch says branding doesn't necessarily mean changing: "It's about trying to get to the heart of what you do, what makes you you." For that reason, she feels Sky Sports is least in need of a facelift.

"It has probably been the most successful in having a clear sense of itself because live sports is so passionate in itself," she says. "People have to have a relationship with a broadcaster if it's to be valuable to them. This country has now realised that - the US broadcasters had to realise it when [the premium movie channel] HBO came along." Murdoch will, by September, have reinvented Sky Movies in HBO's image, presenting added value to viewers with Exclusives (made-for-TV movies) and reinforcing that value on screen. She adds: "It's essential that every channel has a very clear identity and sense of itself." So, come September, we can expect a coherent, united ITV and a distinct portfolio of self-aware Sky channels. If only it were that easy.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk