With all the swirling rings in the universe, it’s still BBC News

The latest redesign of the corporation’s famous globe is more than just a rebranding exercise. But Raymond Snoddy asks what, if anything, the new look will achieve

When change occurs at the BBC, you can be sure an Away Day will not be far behind. Yesterday morning, BBC news types gathered at the fashionable Soho Hotel off Dean Street to review a momentous week when the multimedia newsroom was launched and the new on-air look unveiled.

It will be a while before outsiders get a real sense of how much difference the coming together of News 24 – now the BBC News channel – and the BBC One bulletins into a single news team will make, other than a loss of jobs.

But the new £550,000 on-air look for BBC News is there for all to see – and dissect. Not all the comments so far on the swirling Saturnian rings have exactly been complimentary.

One viewer, Derek Dorrity, denounced the changes as appalling and lacking "any sense of substance or solidity", while adding that such things "really matter, and seriously affect perceptions of an organisation".

Andrew Bustin said simply after his first viewing: "I actually felt quite sick tonight, so will revert to ITV." Don Wallace was so horrified by what he saw as a misuse of licence-fee money that he has promised to work out what proportion of his own licence fee the rebranding represents and deduct it from his payment.

The three views represent the broad range of comments typically forthcoming when a look that everyone has got used to in their living rooms over a number of years suddenly changes. Some are irritated by the disappearance of the visual punctuation that has formed a backdrop to everyday life. Others take issue with the substance of what has been done, while practical types resent the spending of so much money on what they see as superficial frivolity. Just give us the news, the programmes, they say.

When broadcasting executives reach for their chequebooks to pay for new "idents" – as the

Saturnian rings are known in the industry – they invariably talk about the need to "freshen" things up and improve branding in a competitive world.

One of the biggest rows over this issue came in 2002 when the globe motif between programmes was dropped in favour of multicultural idents in the interests of "inclusiveness".

The protests over the new-look news have been muted by comparison. Partly this is because the new livery grows out of the old – the latest version of the globe image that has featured in some form in BBC branding for more than 40 years. There has also been continuity through the use of the colours red and black.

Apart from the extra movement, the big change has been the introduction of light and air, and acres of white. Why black and heavy, dark red should have been the height of branding elegance five years ago, while something so much lighter is now de rigueur, is far from clear.

Those who accuse BBC News of "dumbing down" inevitably see symbolism in such an obvious move away from "substance and solidity". But why the BBC has such loyalty to the colours red and black remains a mystery, apart perhaps from the fact that rivals Sky News and ITN major on the colour blue. Some critics, however, have gone so far as to accuse the corporation of preserving "a belligerent and fascistic colour scheme".

This time round there is perhaps more justification for the change than the mere lapse of five years since the last one. There is the reorganisation of how the news is produced, with BBC online joining the multimedia newsroom in June.

In the age of Google and YouTube, it was decided that it was a good time to bring all the disparate parts of BBC News from radio, TV and online to World and mobile under a single, identifying brand. As Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, puts it: "All the parts were sometimes less than the sum of what we do." There was a need to "punch through" in everything the BBC did.

Though broadcasters take them very seriously, it's far from clear how important such stylistic devices really are. In 2005 Sky News spent millions on a new look, and quite soon after started to lose out in the battle with News 24. It is not clear whether it was "the Starship Enterprise" look or changes to the programme format that viewers found most offputting.

The relaunched News at Ten discovered earlier this year that looks were not everything. It had the latest graphics and a nod towards continuity and nostalgia with the reappearance of Sir Trevor McDonald. The result has been regular embarrassing audience figures compared with what is now BBC News at Ten. Last week the ITN bulletin managed to equal a previous low point of only 1.7 million.

For years, News at Ten was known as News at When, meaning that all the slick graphics in the world could not dent the nation's habit of turning to the BBC at 10pm for the main evening news. But broadcasting executives will continue to believe and continue to spend money on the trimmings.

At the end of this month, Channel Five's digital channel, Five Life, is due to be rebranded as Fiver to make it seem "younger, faster, louder". The whole of Five itself, which has already rebranded its news, along with the poaching of Natasha Kaplinsky from the BBC, is also in line for a makeover.

As for the future of BBC News, you can be sure there will be another new look and that it will come from Lambie-Nairn, designers of the current effort.

It will probably come in 2012 to mark the Olympics and the completion of the move to digital in the UK, and there will probably be a lot more red and black. You will need continuity of colour in such an uncertain world and certainly a bit more solidity and substance.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape