Tuesday, 15 January 2013

ITV Rebrand Goes Live

Spearheaded in-house by ITV Creative, ITV today rolls out a rebrand that extends across all five of its channels in the UK as well as its online and on-demand products including ITV Player.

The project follows some major re-organisation at the network. "There have been big changes over here, staff wise and therefore approach wise," ITV Creative's head of creative Tony Pipes told Creative Review in November last year when ITV announced the imminent rebranding project. "As well as myself coming over recently from Red Bee Media (where I was CD on the BBC one account), Neil Pitt (formerly W&K) has joined as new Head of Art and Design, and our new Exec Creative Director, Phil Lind has just joined from 4Creative," he added. "Our ambition is to turn ITV Creative into a respected, award-winning commercial agency, starting with our own on-air content."

ITV Creative has worked with designer Matt Rudd of Rudd Studio and also type specialists Fontsmith on the new branding, which includes a new ITV logo and corporate typeface.

"Rudd Studio brought us in to work on the logotype and a new typeface that would fit the new ITV ethos," says Fontsmith's Jason Smith. "Typeface-wise we created a four weight ITV sans called ITV Reem [a cheeky reference to the expression made famous by ITV show TOWIE: 'it's well reem!']."

"It's quite a detailed, wide design," Smith continues, "and it was influenced heavily by what we explored with the new logo which has a modern script feel and is quite wide. The typeface is based on that sort of proportion, almost with a calligraphic feel in the sense that when you take a pen off the page after writing, you get a rounded end terminal."

Under the new scheme, ITV1 has become simply ITV while ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV all sport new logos and new colour schemes.

All five channels also have new indents and branded segments between programmes. In a key feature of the new identity, main channel, ITV boasts a new 'colour-picking' feature whereby the on-screen logo will adapt to the tone and colour scheme of the footage of the TV show being promoted.

ITV online (itv.com) also sports a new look (and the new Reem typeface) with the homepage featuring a new central navigation bar to enable viewers to find the content they want quickly as well as discovering new features. The design also takes into account users accessing the site via mobile devices.

"The rebranding of ITV will allow us to further cement the relationship in viewers' minds between our shows and the ITV brand that produces and broadcasts them," says ITV's Rufus Radcliffe, group director of marketing and research. "We now have a consistent identity across everything that we do, all rooted in our positioning as a media brand that is at the heart of popular culture.”
As with any new identity system for a well known brand, it will take some getting used to, but our initial thoughts here at CR towers are positive. The scheme has a lot more personality that the previous ITV system.

The friendly, cursive script will not be to everyone's taste, but one of the biggest problems for ITV recently has been its failure to position itself clearly. This new scheme feels very much in line with the channel that brings us such programming as TOWIE, Take Me Out, and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Of course it is also the network that, in the past, managed to combine such popular shows with 'quality' drama such as Brideshead Revisited and landmark factual programming World in Action and the World At War. We might mourn the latter's passing but this scheme is a response to the network today and in the future, not the network that was. (Perhaps the self-referential name of the new typeface reveals where priorities lie!)
When the scheme was initially announced, there was a lot of debate about the ability for the mark to deal appropriately with more serious content. The new 'colour-picking' function that sees the logo take on the chameleon-like quality of picking up on the colour schemes and tones of different programming (a really interesting innovation) will help (if not completely alleviate concerns) here, allowing the logo to take on a more sombre appearance when the programming (or news) requires it.

There still remains the problem of distinguishing between the four ITV channels and creating easily understood sub-brands for them. If the BBC experience is anything to go by, it is the programming itself that arguably plays a greater role here than the visual identity. We know the difference between what to expect on BBC Two, Three and Four largely because they have distinct outputs. The graphics help and support those differences but they are not as crucial as the schedules.

What's also interesting here is the establishment by ITV of (as with 4 Creative) a really strong inhouse creative team. ITV, it would be fair to say, has traditionally lagged behind its competitors in terms of its on and off-air branding and promotion. The next 12 months should see some interesting work coming out of this group as they attempt to put that right.

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