Launched in 1982, Channel Four Television Corporation is a British publicly-owned yet commercially-funded public service broadcaster with the remit to “be innovative, experimental and distinctive”. Its flagship channel is Channel 4 and over the years has launched five other channels: Film4 (1998), focusing on films; E4 (2001), an entertainment channel aimed at the 16-34 age group, with a lot of popular U.S. shows; More4 (2005), for lifestyle-based content; 4Music (2008), for music; and 4seven (2012), showing repeats of the best programs on other channels. This month, Channel Four Television Corporation introduced a cohesive set of logos for all channels designed in-house by 4creative in collaboration with ManvsMachine.
The network rebrand will unify the digital channel portfolio consisting of More4, Film4, 4Music, 4Seven and E4 whilst maintaining their strong individual brand personalities. In addition, the Channel 4 corporate logo will also evolve from the multi-coloured 3D design to the timeless 2D Lambie-Nairn design. The new logos will all incorporate the iconic 4 more prominently, emphasising they are all part of the Channel 4 family.
Dan Brooke, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Channel 4, said: “Whether you’re tuning into The Big Bang Theory on E4 or watching the latest Film 4 feature at the cinema, we want to remind viewers that they are enjoying fantastic content from Channel 4’s portfolio. The E4 rebrand also gives talented emerging filmmakers and animators from across the UK a platform to showcase their superb work.”
I would be here all morning if I were to break down each individual old-and-new-logo pair, so I won’t. In part because I don’t have all morning but mostly because I think this is really about the big picture and the shift from having independent logos, with each having to find different ways (to varying degrees of success) of rendering a “4”, to a unified set of logos all working from the same highly recognizable “4” shape of the flagship channel.
Each of the old logos had their pros and cons but what was clear was that visually they could all have been owned by different media companies. Of course, there is the “4” in all of the names and for people in the UK that is unmistakable with anything else. Bringing them all together under the same visual rules provides the best of both worlds: immediate name AND immediate visual recognition.
I find it amazing that they were able to build “FILM”, “E”, “More”, “Music”, and “7” into the puzzle of the original logo and do them all in an attractive, interesting, and convincing way, while allowing each channel to be slightly different. My only complaint in execution would be the lack of consistency between hard corners and rounded corners in the elements; I think it can be distracting and perhaps sticking to one or the other would have tightened them even more. These might not be amazing logos independently but as a family, with each member having slightly distinct traits, there is nothing better out there.
On the air, all the channels retain the graphics and behaviors they have been using recently. Film4 keeps the panning stuff done by ManvsMachine and simply replaces the logo. More4 keeps the flipping devices also by ManvsMachine and has built the effect into the typography. So, for now, the change isn’t too drastic for most viewers. Except for those watching E4… that one exploded.
The new E4 logo, which was last refreshed in 2013, will keep its purple colour and will have eight new opticals to showcase the mischievous, rebellious personality of the popular youth-focused digital channel. There will also be 19 new on-air idents produced by a diverse mix of talented creatives from across the UK. The fun collection of unique films and animations each with its own quirky take on the new E4 logo, brings a fresh creative energy to the E4 viewer experience.
It’s hard to argue against the anything-goes approach because when anything goes… well, who is to say what’s right and wrong? Perhaps two purple felines making out draws a line for some people. So, sure, knock yourselves out E4.
Overall, this is an impressive effort and it makes you wonder if it shouldn’t have been like this all this time but, if that were the case, I’m sure now we would be seeing independent logos for each channel as the redesign. Both approaches have their benefits and detriments but what’s consistent in the case of Channel 4 (through its in-house team and various creative partners) is that they tend to get it right, no matter the approach.
Thanks to Ben Thrussell for the tip.