• Transform magazine
  • June 02, 2020

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Opinion: "Best and worst brand strategies behind TV idents"

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Following a year of numerous television rebrands, Alasdair Lennox looks at the role idents continue to play in the communication of a TV brand.

Television branding is no longer the be-all and end-all of channels’ promotional tools, particularly in an age of on-demand viewing. But with TV channels still championing regular TV idents, perhaps this form of channel branding hasn’t been made redundant quite yet.

Starting back when television was the all-encompassing medium of entertainment, brands were guaranteed that the ad breaks would be the perfect time to communicate their message to viewers and capture brand loyalty. And despite catch-up TV and the Internet allowing us to skip past all the adverts and be more selective in our viewing, TV idents are still a huge part of television channels’ branding strategies.

Reaching the masses, TV has always had the power to influence both visually and through sound. A perfect combination of these two mediums is a great way for channels to promote their brand ethos and be instantly recognisable to the public. But how effective are they in encapsulating a channel’s real brand identity?

A TV channel needs a brand that identifies with its content. And one arthouse drama channel has done exactly that. Walter Presents, which launched this year, has been almost perfectly designed to capture all that its channel represents. It has a simple logo and identity, which is so easily recognisable. It is not bogged down by animation or complex graphics and reflects its genre of arthouse niche. For me, all these aspects lend to conveying key aspect to brand. Meanwhile the channel itself has a really powerful, personal touch to it. It’s curated by Walter, a man who set aside two years of life looking for the best foreign drama out there.

I’d say WP is a current frontrunner in the TV idents space, as it boasts simple visual language, engaging its viewers. This alone makes for ideal branding strategy.

One TV brand, which for me lacks originality and is far from expertly executed is BT Sport. It’s so passé with its heavy, clumsy and unrefined look. Yes, it’s very consistent with its earlier BT Connected World brand globe icon, with a modern font added, but all-in-all, the brand appears dull and flat. The brand strategy here seems to have missed the mark in artistic direction and is relying solely on BT's brand name reputation to get audiences tuning in.

With other established competitors in the sports channel market like Sky Sport, with its strong and powerful visual language, a killer logo design and sexy high production values, is it time BT Sport went for a visual make over?

Meanwhile, the BBC, who usually injects big bucks and brand strategy into its TV idents, failed to impress with its latest BBC 3 TV identity - the three pillar logo. Yes, the logo and ident were designed to convey the individual’s choice, which BBC 3 exists to champion, however they left behind nothing but a trail of confusion about their brand strategy and meaning. They spent weeks after the release of their TV ident explaining its meaning to the press and on social media. This is a perfect case in point, where originality, while key, must take a back seat to clarity of expression and meaning when outlining a brand strategy. Cryptic branding just doesn’t fly with consumers.

Suffice it to say that TV idents should reflect a channel’s brand ethos and engage viewers. For me the closest thing to a perfect TV ident is one that strikes a balance between visual identity and sound, one that speaks volumes about a channel’s brand identity.

By Alasdair Lennox, executive creative director for EMEA at FITCH