Nevermind: Carlton Television 

24 May 2004 tbs.pm/1970

Carlton proposed logo

Russ J Graham on the Carlton franchising-winning symbol that never was

When Carlton Television won the flawed 1992 franchise round from Thames, the main news media was full two items – stills of the above symbol (either printed directly on the page, or held triumphantly on card by the winning management team as they soaked one another with champagne whilst being filmed by the vanquished Thames) and the full video ident.

Carlton pre-launch ident, never used

The ident featured a white screen, from which a 3D man (looking for all the world like Oscar Pierce from the American Academy Awards) emerged, holding a can of film. He stood, hurling the film can from him, its path creating the blue line. The rest of the symbol then filled in.

From this it was plain that (a) Carlton planned to “revolutionise television” – programmes and presentation – just like every other new company promised and that (b) they had decided – 3D man apart – to avoid a symbol and go for their name as their ident.

Nothing original in any of these, but then each new ITV entrant has always felt compelled to re-invent the wheel, before settling down one way or another into the tried-and-tested methods of their predecessor.

An example of Carlton's launch ident.

However, if this new entrant had one weakness, it was for the holy words of the “branding consultants”. These shadowy people know all there is to know about good design, and nothing about good television. Thus, before launch, Carlton was to junk the 3D man and the serif print for the familiar – if somewhat ridiculous – ‘Carlon’ identity.

Of course, even then they had to be ‘revolutionary’, using pictures of “ordinary Londoners” as part of the idents in order to create the regional identity they were already being accused of not having.

Give Carlton their due, not only are they up for whatever may be fashionable today – ignoring that it may be less so tomorrow – they are also don’t have the courage of their convictions, and are happy to abandon a change of course should someone whose views they respect (a diminishing list that doesn’t appear to include any viewers) decide that they are doing something wrong.

Carlton's 'Star' ident

A few years into their contract, the ‘branding consultants’ were back, explaining that using just a name with no symbol was now passé, again, and they should adopt a geometrical shape forthwith. Like, this one. That’ll be a quarter of a million quid, please.

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