A Tale of 5 Channels: ITV’s 2013 Rebrand
18 Jan 2013 4 comments. tbs.pm/1311
Rebranding is always tough, regardless of your sector, but when you’re a national network broadcaster with over 55 years of iconic imagery, it must seem an almost impossible task. Of course, the default response from many is ‘AGAIN?!’, but it’ll probably surprise them to learn that the last branding is 6 years old, a long time in an ever-changing broadcast environment. So, it seems practically inevitable that the resulting rebrand is something of a mixed bag, with some continuation of previous themes, but with some outstanding efforts from some quarters (or fifths), which makes the whole shebang well worth it. Here’s the breakdown.
ITV1 to ITV: Here we have perhaps the most surprising part of the rebrand, as ITV turn their backs on 11 years of seeing their main channel as part of their digital offering. I think the ‘ITV1’ branding did help the other digital channels establish themselves, and, now analogue has gone, there is now no real need to for the main channel to make constant reference to the others in its name. What surprises me, more than anything else, is how hard the habit of ‘ITV1’ is to break, which does show that it really wasn’t as clunky as some were fearing back in 2001. Still, enough of the thinking behind the change; what really counts is how the new logo looks on screen.
ITV idents: Hmm. In theory, I don’t have a major problem with the idents representing everyday life, as it fits ITV being a populist channel. But did they all have to be so BORING? A good idea, done badly. This is perhaps the most inconsistent part of the rebrand, because not all the ITV channels have done this terribly.
ITV DOG (all channels): Ah. Being a TV nerd, I’m also not a big fan of DOGs. But if channels have to have one, and, let’s face it, the watermarking of content is irresistible to channel executives in this day and age, I’d rather have this. It looks good faded down, which may well be damning with (literally) faint praise, but I really appreciate channel DOGs that do their job whilst not screaming “I’M HERE!!!” at the viewer. It also makes the really annoying and invasive use of promotional text under the DOG near impossible. Now that IS something of which I can approve.
ITV promos (all channels): Now, we start to see where the logo begins to come into its own. That fade into and out of the action is glorious, and I really have no complaints. The strong CITV also works extremely well with the more manic, colourful theme for that channel.
ITV Network News: A much cleaner and dynamic look for the main ITV news, and they’ve got rid of that awful yellow studio. A much classier offering than before.
Local ITV News: The new look also extends very well to the various regions, which means that some specific branding has been lost. This isn’t necessarily a problem, given that local news shows are now a shadow of their former selves. Some regions, such as Wales, Anglia and Central, will see little change, whilst Yorkshire retains the well-known Calendar, Granada retains the similarly-popular Granada Reports, and Border sticks with Lookaround, albeit all with the ‘ITV News’ prefix. Tyne Tees & Border has been shrunk to ITV News Tyne Tees, as has London from London Tonight, and whilst the old Westcountry region can pretend it’s the old days (sort of) with ITV News Westcountry, the old HTV West region has to make do with being the eastern part of ITV News Westcountry, rather than the two regions still having Westcountry Tonight and The West Tonight. It may be geographically accurate, but it does reinforce the perception that as far as ITV News is concerned, the south west corner of England is basically all the same, which is a bit of a smack in the nose for poor old Bristol. Regardless of the names, however, the programmes look very good.
ITV3 idents: Now, this is more like it. All of these idents are BEAUTIFUL. I was already on board with the existence of ITV3, which is obviously there to celebrate the archive of quality ITV drama, but this is the first time that the idents have reflected the quality of the channel content. So, so lovely.
ITV4 idents: Oh, ITV4. The home of The Sweeney, Minder, The Professionals & Cheers (amongst others, including classic and live sport). All shows that I love, and I’m a regular viewer. However, I was never very happy with the sponsorship being aimed at men (and ‘blokey’ men at that), so I’m even less pleased with Reemah Sakaan, the director of network marketing, saying that ITV4 would be a “man club” in the Guardian. If you hadn’t guessed from the author name, I’m a woman, and I’m trying to work out the strategy of annoying part of your audience, as I’m sure I’m not the only woman that tunes in. ITV4 clearly want to be a home for more sport, but don’t have the clout to do so, and it puts them in an uneasy competition with the main channel, as well as making their marketing look rather forced. I suspect advertising strategy is the real reason, rather than ITV’s marketing thinking that there’s a real need for a “man club”, along with a excessively blokey continuity announcer and male viewer-only idents, as there does appear to be a resurgence of sex-specific marketing in the UK economy in general. Far be it from me to tell ITV4 how to get their revenue, but I’m disappointed (not to mention alienated) with this retrograde step, because it must surely put off a certain section of the male audience as well. After all, you can’t tell me that there aren’t gay fans of The Professionals and the original Batman series! It’s ironic too that part of the marketing campaign is ‘#4realfans’, as the idents mainly address football or other mainstream fandom, which rather suggests that other fandoms aren’t ‘real’ by their absence. When you seek to set up a “man club”, you automatically exclude people who wouldn’t be allowed in the club, which is an odd and misguided strategy for such a high-profile channel.
ITV2 idents: No, I can count, but I thought I’d compare and contrast. I’ve always seen ITV2’s content as being slightly female-skewed, so it’s very interesting that some idents feature both men and women in workplace situations, larking about (there’s a fashionable female one for shows such as ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’, which I guess is fair enough, given that the content was originally aimed at fashionable females in the first place). If you’re going to aim channels at a specific demographic, then this is a very good example of marketing to young professionals, as it’s as inclusive as such a strategy can be. I wasn’t an ITV2 viewer before, but I have to admit that these idents tempt me to spend more time with the channel. It makes me very sad that I can’t say the same for ITV4.
CITV idents: Another successful part of the rebrand, which I think has been influenced by the excellent CBBC branding. Silly, cartoony idents? Consider me on board. Animations of what kids associate with the ‘C’ in ‘CITV’? Fabulous stuff.
The ITV rebrand represents the different challenges of having 5 channels under the same banner, all serving a different purpose, so I suppose it’s unsurprising that out of all 5, the main channel suffers the most, as, despite having had a multichannel environment for at least 11 years in the UK, it’s clear that ITV is still expected to be all things to all people, which, admittedly, is a tough brief. It seems that a strong identity for the main channel has been sacrificed for more definitive packages for the other channels, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the main channel will extend such indulgence when the next rebrand is due.