Opinions on corporate and brand identity work.

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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.


Who Let the Butterflies Out?

Reviewed Jun. 7, 2010 by Brand New

Industry / Entertainment Tags /

Rai Logo, Before and After

European broadcasters tend to place much focus on the brand of their respective parent corporation, which usually acts as an umbrella brand for all their outlets. This is very different from the American broadcasters where every network seems to be its own operation with loose branding ties within corporations (think MTV, VH1, etc. within Viacom). One weird aspect of the European model is that every once in a while the corporation makes a change in its identity which is then implemented on all its services. This means a sudden burst of rebrands of several television channels that either happen at once or over the course of a limited time-period. One recent example of this is Rai — short for Radiotelevisione Italiana, a state-owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance — which suddenly decided to give all its 13 channels new looks on May 18.

Along with its nearest competitor, Mediaset, which is controlled by the family of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Rai holds a virtual monopoly in Italian television. Of course, this creates a less-than-competitive market, which makes branding less important. Recently, Rai and Mediaset have started facing competition, mostly from areas where Murdoch’s Sky satellite platform has been successful. This means “Mamma Rai” will have to review her appearance to remain appealing in an increasingly cluttered media landscape.

The most obvious change is that the “butterfly” symbol seems to be going away. This “butterfly”, which has silhouettes of faces on the sides of its wings, was introduced in 2000. To me, this stylish symbol has always seemed out of place in the colourful world of Italian television, and I haven’t got any clue to what the reasoning behind adopting it might have been.

In its place comes a square with the acronym “Rai” written in Futura Bold, the font that was also used in the previous logo. In a video that came with the rebrand, the square is described as “the sign of imposed order, of rationality in the chaos” and that this is what Rai represents in the new television system.

The corporate logo is transferred onto the logos Rai’s different television channels. Under the previous scheme, there were three different types of logos. Rai’s logo flora had grown very varied over the years:

– The three main channels used the butterfly symbol, with Rai written to the left and the name of the channel (Uno, Due or Tre) written to the right.

– The new digital channels had initially used the same formula, but over the last few years they have started using logos consisting of two squares, one containing the butterfly and one containing the name of the channel.

– Finally, there were the “RaiSat” channels, operated by a separate company set up to operate satellite channels. They never got around to adopting the butterfly logo and were still using the classic Rai logo from the 1980s.

The new logo scheme has two types of logos, one for the five “generalist” channels that use the Rai square with a numeral in a box on the right, and one for the “thematic” channels which only use the square logo with the name on the right. The RaiSat channels are brought into the herd and no longer operate under a separate name. The two kids channels, Rai Gulp and Rai YoYo, have a little triangle added to the square, so it will look like a speech balloon.


The following video came with the rebrand. Although it is in Italian, it contains lots of images and familiar words, so you can understand most of it even if you’ve never studied the language.

Simon Wennberg is an aspiring writer located in Lund, Sweden.



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