Channel 4 is ditching its “constraining” circles logo and on-screen identity, and replacing it with a new image created by London consultancy Spin and the channel’s in-house design team.
The new design is yet to be signed-off, but is expected to feature vertical bands of colour moving across the screen, and a Channel 4 logo in a square. A prototype screen identity has been developed and the on-air launch is expected “in weeks rather than months”, according to Channel 4 controller of marketing Polly Cochrane.
She says the new on-screen design, which arose from a broader review of the channel’s screen positioning, will “break a lot of television rules” and provide a more flexible off-air identity than its circle-based predecessor. Introduced in 1996, this was developed in-house with early design input from Tomato.
“It will embrace colour again which had been drained out by the circles,” says Cochrane. “Off-air they had become rather constraining and formulaic. They were really struggling to produce off-air ads where the circles worked in a meaningful way.”
The new direction is hinted at in a current poster campaign (extract pictured) to advertise Channel 4’s forthcoming Sex in the City programme. Devised by The Creative Partnership, with art-direction by Spin, the posters include a Channel 4 logo without its circles, but inside a square.
Spin was established six years ago and last year won a silver D&AD Award for its new media work for Diesel. Before appointing the group, Channel 4 had talked to several better known screen-design companies which had failed to impress.
“We were getting to the point of wondering if we’d ever find someone,” says Cochrane.
She adds that the new identity is not under the same time pressure as its predecessor, which was “rushed out” ahead of the Channel 5 launch.
Cochrane is keen the identity will not be over-dominant. “The programme content and attitudes should be taking centre stage,” she says.
Matt Baker, Channel 4 deputy head of corporate affairs, says the channel has decided to reinforce its brand at a time when on-screen branding is becoming increasingly important.
“The four circles have worked well for us in many ways,” says Baker. “We had a very strong [launch] logo with the geometric colours. We tried something different and now we’re moving it on.”
It will be only the second major redesign of the channel’s identity. The original logo was designed by the then Robinson Lambie-Nairn in 1982 and was updated in 1996 to the current circles logo.
With the advent of digital TV, Channel 4 faces new challenges.