• Transform magazine
  • June 16, 2019

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Timeline: NBCUniversal

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NBCUniversal, once two separate studios, represents two strands of Hollywood’s development. Universal is a 103 year-old brand that lends its name to some of the biggest productions in history. NBC began life as a radio conglomerate that holds the title of the oldest broadcast network in the U.S. The NBCUniversal corporate brand has brought these two giants together under the Comcast umbrella.

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1912: Universal’s founder Carl Laemmle established the first movie studio that did production, distribution and exhibition under the same banner. Universal City opened three years later.

1920-1923: The first on-screen logo for Universal is used. This logo will go through a few iterations over the years, but will retain its core elements through even today.

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1923-1946: Universal Pictures establishes itself in Hollywood with its first Best Picture Oscar for All Quiet on the Western Front and with a slew of horror films destined to become genre classics.

1926: NBC became a reality under David Sarnoff’s direction. Major broadcasts including Charles Lindbergh’s aviation feats and national sporting events spurred it on.

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1929: NBC registers the first ever audio service mark, or audio brand, still a familiar sound to millions of Americans.

1939-1959: NBC established countless firsts in television in sports, politics, programming and in terms of format. The three coloured xylophone logo evoked the three-toned ‘G-E-C’ audio brand that had become closely associated with NBC.

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1946-1964: The Laemmle family lost control of Universal prompting industry politics and MCA to takeover. In 1964, Universal Studios Tour opens to the public.

1956-1975: NBC becomes the leader in colour television, a transition heralded in by its now-iconic peacock logo and strapline, ‘More Colourful.’ Variations away from the peacock in the 1970s and ’80s were short- lived and unsuccessful.

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1960-1990: The 1970s and ’80s were kind to Universal as well as it produced classics like Jaws, American Graffiti, Animal House and the Deer Hunter. Its logo remains unchanged until it is acquired by MCA. 1990-1997: The MCA era was heralded in by Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and a graphic simplification of the classic words- across-globe logo.

1986-present: The NBC peacock grows up with a new treatment (visible in image 12) by New York brand and design firm Chermayeff & Geismar. NBC becomes a leader in broadcast and cable news in the run-up to the creation of the 24-hour news station. Its sitcom programming set the
bar for comedy and drama, a challenge laid down to television broadcasters that they are still trying to overcome today. Its sports coverage, too, remains world-class.

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2004-present: NBC and Universal merge. The two entities own a number of prominent sub-brands. NBC is also the nation’s traditional broadcaster of the Olympic Games, a sponsorship that led to a development of its digital platforms
in 2012. Hulu, a joint venture among entertainment brands was launched in 2008 and has since revolutionised digital entertainment content consumption.

2011-present: The new NBCUniversal logo officially debuted once Comcast and GE agreed to the joint venture.

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