Indepth on Granada TV Network
1 Jul 2001 0 comments. tbs.pm/1985
Kif Bowden-Smith looks in-depth at the Granada inverted dipole
The arrow symbol of the Granada TV Network has been one of the most constant features of ITV since 1956. Re-drawn several times, used in different settings, and even elsewhere in Granada Group – it has been the totem of the one company that has seen off all others since the start of the network.
It was axiomatic that the arrow was pointing North on a compass. The early days of the Bernstein tv empire were a crusade to carve out a territory, and to stamp the brand of a proprietor on it. The arrow became the mark of the fiefdom. Iconic, unyielding, it became a sentinel of the network fare on weekdays from the North.
The original design, known in the industry as “the inverted dipole” had the arms of the arrowhead at an obtuse angle. It was a ‘gentle’ point to the North, suggesting a laid back authority. As Bernstein might have said “We want to suggest the North, not impose the it”.
At that time of course, Granada had a Monday to Friday contract, covering both sides of the Pennines, with no separate Yorkshire contractor in existence. With weekend programmes from the dazzling ABC company, with its famous triangle and national ethos, Granada chose a weekday symbol that was firmly rooted in the region.
The early incarnation of the “inverted dipole” had a thinly drawn stem and arms, but was considered ‘weedy’ by the graphics designers at Granada. Around 1958, the symbol was ‘beefed up’ with a much thicker set of lines, and a stylistic vertical side edge to the arms of the arrow. Parallel with the Granada letter blocks above, these side edges brought symmetry to the whole use of the symbol. A ‘blob axis’ was added to mid-stem, to emphasise the compass theme of the whole – though the blob was not seen on networked captions.
This enhanced arrow lasted up to the boundary changes of July 1968, but was complemented after 1964 by a special variant for use in local news programmes. This variant, never seen on the network offerings, became known as the “Gin Arrow” after the local news strand “Granada in the North” on which it was used as frontcap and endcap. This unusual experiment had continuity announcers popping up with local news stories throughout the evening. This innovation was praised by the ITA, blending as it did the company identity with the area it served.
The “Gin Arrow” was a stylised moving variant of the company symbol, with arms at an acute angle for the first time, and the whole contained within a block, very redolent of the lettering blocks on the main ident. This acute angled special arrow lived side by side with the obtuse angled master ident for four years.
With the change of the company’s boundaries in 1968, and a seven-day contract in the Northwest to replace five days in the North, a change of screen identity was called for. The arrows were put away, and for a year or more only the company name was used, sandwiched between two horizontal lines.
The arrow was revived however, in a new form as the lure of colour suggested new approached to corporate identity. An acute angled arrow, combined with the letter G, known originally as the G arrow, was designed for competitors tee shirts on a children’s quiz in the summer of 1969. Children from different ITV regions competed against each other, with their company symbols on their clothing. Sidney Bernstein was supposedly so impressed with the logo that he suggested it be adopted for the whole company. It was, although oddly it was not registered as a formal trademark until 1971.
That symbol has survived, more or less intact, until the present day, in constantly ‘refreshed’ settings. A number of variants now oversee other companies in the Granada group. The present symbol, now more famous than the original, has survived many a re-launch, and many a ‘freshen up’. It proves perhaps that classic design is long lasting design.
What makes this symbol a classic?
In an era where the legend ‘from the North’ no longer appears on Granada networked fare, the arrow has succeeded in conveying a subtle geographic message to those who think about the meaning of trademarks. It conveys a message, brands a company, and claims a territory – all in one.
It’s the simple ideas that are the most powerful.
Inverted dipole in use
The main Granada ident for most of the 1960s.
Almost uniquely, this ident formed up silently (or with the opening notes of the following programme’s theme music playing underneath). Granada never used a jingle on a frontcap.
The White on Black variant indicated special continuity for the Emley Moor transmitter where commercials could be booked though programmes did not differ.
This version of the inverted dipole belongs to an oddity – a blend of local and national news, programme information and continuity called “Granada in the North” that opened the station each day in the mid 1960s.
Into the early days the dipole turning into the ‘G-arrow’ symbol.
The symbol gets an animated outline around it that ‘reaches out’ to the viewer. The effect is very ‘Time Tunnel’ or ‘Doctor Who’. It was used as part of the daily opening routine.
From 1984 and 1987 respectively, these two stills (from a start up sequence and the frontcap of Coronation Street) show that the proportions and typeface of the cards were something fixed at Granada.
The background, and the typeface colour, are more dramatically different between them, but still evidently produced using older – or less expensive – technology than the rest of the Big Five were using.
A final gasp of this style before the 1989 ITV relaunch started companies on the road to generics. Unanimated and silent, this local caption dates from around 1987 and is much more dramatic than the two predecessors. But still low-tech, comparatively.