Design fortunes to return to our screens in the autumn?

If, as key players in the branding world suggest, the UK is lagging behind the US by some nine months in terms of an economic upturn, then we can expect recovery to start to kick in by the autumn.

We’ve seen signs of it already in some sectors – and among UK consultancies, largely the independents, that have hung in there through the worst of the storm. But with reports of bigger branding jobs for the likes of General Electric in the US – fuelled by the economic upturn of an election year – and the expansion within New York’s JFK Airport of airline Delta, optimism is surely justified. Projects of this magnitude may still be in short supply on this side of the Atlantic. But other, more specialist areas are picking up regardless.

TV is one such area, providing some of the best opportunities for UK design. The implications for the BBC’s design roster seem a small affair in the debacle following Lord Hutton’s Report and the subsequent departure of BBC director-general Greg Dyke and others from the corporation. Sources suggest a change of leadership for the broadcaster will have no immediate effect on day-to-day operations, and no changes are anticipated for the Lambie-Nairn-designed identity.

Meanwhile, over at the newly merged ITV, which made its debut on the Stock Exchange this week, there appears to be nothing new for design. But in other networks, notably the competitive digital channels, work prospects are opening up.

Lambie-Nairn has rebranded news programming on Norwegian channel TV2 (see News, page 8), proving that screen design continues to be a great export for UK talents. This kind of work for overseas broadcasters has served to build Lambie-Nairn’s portfolio, as well as those of its rivals Kemistry and English & Pockett.

But now there are new players in screen graphics and competition is hotting up. Not least among these is the Lambie-Nairn breakaway Dunning Eley Jones, which concluded its ‘soft launch’ with news that it is rebranding UKTV, the digital joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Flextech Television that boasts the highly successful History channel among its nine channels (see News, page 3).

Last September the Discovery Channel broadcast new branding by Lambie-Nairn, created to bring the on-screen look of the channel in line with its tagline ‘Got to know’. Like UKTV, Discovery has nine channels in the ‘edutainment’ arena and signs are that the field will broaden even more.

This activity shows that while big branding and identity jobs might act as indicators for design’s health, smaller areas play their part too. In an industry as diverse as design, we can all take heart from that.

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