Channel Five is a television network in the United Kingdom, originally launched in 1997, with a variety of programming for all ages and interests from soap operas in the morning, to cartoon blocks for kids; to sitcoms, procedurals, and reality shows for the after-work crowd through original shows as well as American imports. Recently they were purchased by billionaire Richard Desmond and it seems the new management decided that as well as a change of ownership, a change of branding was also in order. Curiously, this is the channel’s third change of brand mark in the past 10 years — which even for the constantly refreshing and evolving world of televisual branding, seems a little fast. The last version was notably designed by Dixon Baxi and will remain on the air until February 14 when the new logo takes over.
Aside from the obvious visual change, the big change with the new mark is a move from simply being “Five” to being “Channel 5” — it’s tempting to judge the merits of this decision based solely upon the logo, but one has to wonder about the strategic considerations. Perhaps they thought that “Five” was more confusing or harder to reproduce than simply a numeral 5. Perhaps people confused Five with being a carbonated beverage, whereas Channel 5 is much more clear as a TV brand? Admittedly, both these arguments seem flimsy and almost laughable, but the silliness of the naming change pales in comparison to the issues with the new mark.
Dressed in a hue reminiscent of the fine velour suits preferred by Ron Burgundy, the logo reminds me instantly of that era of 1970s newscasts. This mark would sit perfectly tiled into a repeat pattern behind an anchorman (never a woman) smoking, sipping a scotch and delivering the news of the day, fresh off the newfangled IBM telegram machines. Whereas the previous mark had a contemporary, almost techie edge, this new mark takes a step back, and then another, and then hops in Marty McFly’s time machine and cranks up the 1.21 gigawatts to… well you get it. Try as I may it’s hard to find any redeeming characteristics, but as with any on-air branding, we’ll have to wait for the animated versions to see how successful the new mark will be.