The logo of the BBC has been a brand identity for the corporation and its work since the 1950s in a variety of designs. Until the introduction of a logo in 1958, the corporation had relied on its coat of arms for official documentation and correspondence, although this crest rarely appeared onscreen. With the increased role of television for the BBC in the 1960s, particularly after the foundation of ITV, the corporation used its logo to increase viewer familiarity and to standardise its image and content. The logo has since been redesigned a number of times, most recently in 2021 with the BBC blocks, a logo designed to work across media. From 1958, for this television network, there have been six different logos. The first logo of the network was used from 1958 to 1963, the second from 1963 to 1971, the third from 1971 to 1992, the fourth from 1988 to 1997, the fifth from 1997 to 2021, while the sixth and current logo was adopted in October 2021.
Before the logoEdit
Before the BBC introduced its logo itself, in the form of the slanted boxes, the BBC used a variety of different symbols with which to represent itself. In printed media and corporation correspondence, it used the BBC coat of arms, while on screen, it used a different logo type. Originally, it used a stylised BBC text on early equipment, not unlike the caption that accompanied the BBC1 COW globe. This logo was rarely seen on screen, with captions containing the words "BBC Television Service" along with matching clock. In 1932, when the original reception room of the BBC Broadcasting House in London opened, a logo was laid in mosaic on the floor. This logo was merely a stylized entwining of two capital B's, one facing either direction, linked by a C in the centre. This mosaic logo is still visible on the floor today, though the area no longer serves as the BBC's main reception room.
In 1953, Abram Games was commissioned to design an on-air image. Nicknamed the 'bat's wings', it consisted of a rounded brass contraption with a tiny spinning globe in its centre, with large wing-like protrusions flanked by lightning bolts on either side. For BBC Scotland, the globe in the centre was replaced by a lion.
The first incarnation of the BBC blocks logo appeared in 1958. It consisted of square boxes with slanted letters, not unlike the first slanted logo seen in the 1960s.
In the 1960s, the main BBC logo consisted of slanted boxes with italicised bold lettering. This was introduced soon after the introduction of ITV in 1955. This type of logo would go on captions at the end of productions as well as on cameras and other equipment used by the BBC. They became important when popular BBC programmes and clips from the BBC archives were being sold to be aired on other networks and channels. It was in the early 1960s that the 'bat's wings' logo ceased to be used. It was superseded by the BBC TV logo within a circle, behind which would appear a map of Britain split into broadcast regions. This set the style for a succession of circular images. On 30 September 1963, the BBC's globe logo first appeared. This was a striped line broken in the middle by a globe, with BBC1 in block letters below it. When it appeared, the continuity announcer would say "This is BBC Television." while the globe spun. 1964 saw the creation of BBC1 and BBC2 brands, with the distinctive horizontal stripes across the screen. In April 1964, BBC2 was launched. Its logo was similar to that of BBC1, featuring the distinctive horizontal stripe, but with a large 2 in the centre with the BBC blocks beneath. As part of the publicity campaign for the new channel, artist Desmond Marwood created images of a kangaroo, named Hullabaloo with a baby named Custard in its pouch, to represent the new station. In 1969, when BBC 1 began broadcasting in colour, it introduced the 'mirror globe' logo. This logo shows a rotating blue globe superimposed over a flat globe, as on a map. Below the globes there is a line and the words BBC1 COLOUR. The word 'colour' was included to remind viewers still watching in black and white to purchase a colour TV set.
In 1971, a new softer logo was made, rounding off the boxes and making the spaces between the boxes larger. This logo was used on BBC merchandise, as well as the BBC1 idents and the BBC2 clock. More now than ever, merchandise was being branded with the logo, as more productions were being sold via the BBC's American identity, Lionheart Television. Also, records and videos were now starting to be produced and a corporate identity was getting more and more essential to ensuring that the audience knew it was authentic and that the quality programmes they were watching could be attributed to the BBC. The mirror globe began using a more ornate font in 1972. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the BBC1 channel logo used several different fonts, but with each change the logo remained blue. At this time, BBC logos were mechanical models filmed by black-and-white cameras. Colour was added afterwards, electronically, rendering it simple to change the colour as needed. In 1967, BBC2 introduced a logo featuring a blue 2 with a dot in the curve of the 2 and the word COLOUR underneath. In 1979, BBC2 debuted the first-ever computer-generated logo, a 2 flanked by a double line on the side. The symbols appeared on a black background, then disappeared. This logo remained in use until 1992.
In May 1988, the BBC produced yet another new logo. Since the last one was made, a consumer brand was becoming part of nearly every TV station and corporation at the time (and, at ITV, had been so for many years). The BBC needed a strong and unified identity, and a change of said identity was key. Michael Peters was hired to design this all-inclusive BBC identity for the corporation. They modified the then-current logo by sharpening up the parallelogram edges again and set them to an angle of 17 degrees without reducing the size of the spaces between the boxes. They also sharpened up the text to make it match the clarity of the logo itself. The typeface used was Helvetica Neue. Also, under-logo lines were added to the logo for the first time. These lines were coloured blue, red, green to reflect the three phosphors of colour cathode-ray tube television. These appeared on the BBC national-region identities from the identities' debut in 1988 and its gradual television debut over the period 1989, 1990 and 1991.
Previously, in 1986, the electronically generated BBC2 logo was updated. The number 2 was replaced with the word TWO. The letters were white, 3D letters on a white background with red striping on the T as well as green and blue striping on the W. The word TWO appeared and faded on the white background.
The rebrands of both BBC1 and BBC2 in February 1991 were also based on the then-current BBC corporate identity, when these two channels were given a total corporate look, unlike previous ways of branding the channels. BBC Radio Clwyd continued to use this logo until the station was closed in August 1998 and the logo continued as an in-credit logo.
Variants of the 1988 BBC logoEdit
In the mid-1990s, when employed to rebrand BBC1, Martin Lambie-Nairn suggested that he look into the current logo choice and see what he could do, given that, the BBC at the time was also looking into the BBC brand as a whole. What he noticed, was that the BBC had a system that meant that every service or department had a different logo scheme. It had a BBC logo and the name with character. Lambie-Nairn decided to address this when he took on the project, as with all these logos, the core brand itself was severely weakened. It was also appropriate to look at the way the BBC was branded, as the BBC was about to take off in digital television and the internet, among other different ventures. After seeing a number of problems with the then-current logo, he decided that a new logo was necessary. The logo was technically unsuitable on-screen. When shrunk, it lost the lines underneath and the counters (the sections in the Bs) and also, when in colour on a colour photo, it again disappeared or parts vanished. Also, on a TV or computer, diagonals are difficult to work with as the logos pixelate, and anti-aliasing is required to make the logo work. The previous logo also followed the idea of the slanted boxes, and related the BBC back to the very first logo in the 1950s and 1960s, which was not what the corporation wanted at that time. Technically, the logo never looked comfortable next to the brand and straight letters. Finally, it was expensive to print as stationery would always have four-colour letterheads, and alongside other BBC brands could mean anything up to ten-colour letterheads and stationery.
Lambie-Nairn's solution is the BBC logo that was introduced on 4 October 1997. By straightening up the boxes and letters, it removed all the problems associated with diagonals and those associated with disappearing lines. This kept the boxes' shape, so that it would still be familiar with what people know about the BBC. The typeface used is Gill Sans, made by Eric Gill. It was chosen because it was elegant and robust and has a timeless appeal: the typeface had been created 60 years before and so avoided the typeface looking outdated at a later date. This typeface also eliminated the disappearing counters issue, as the counters of the Bs were much larger. Some of Gill's statues adorn the exterior of Broadcasting House. The logo was also designed so that anything could be added after the BBC logo, be it department, corporate, brand, TV, radio, etc. Also, by using this system, everything looked as if it came from the same organisation, and it was also easy to add new logos. This system also used only black-and-white letterheads, meaning a big cost saving to the BBC and the licence-fee payer.
The only visible issue with the system was that the logo for the BBC television and radio brands did not reflect their genre or appeal to the tastes of their target audiences. Lambie-Nairn proposed to show this as personality in the idents themselves, and evidence of this can be seen in the idents for BBC One made just after the logo was introduced. The BBC One balloons were made using the new logo, with the personality device in the balloons. The BBC Two idents, the 2s remained the same but with the new logo added underneath, used with CBBC logo.
Variants of the 1997 BBC logoEdit
The flag of the BBC between 1997 and 2021.
The orange flag variant of the BBC between 1997 and 2021.
2000s and 2010sEdit
In 2002, the BBC One balloon idents were discontinued, as was the globe. The BBC Two idents that were in use since 1991 had been discontinued shortly before. BBC One's idents were replaced with a new series known as "Rhythm & Movement", which were themed around dance and multiculturalism. Meanwhile, BBC Two shifted to new "personality"-themed idents to reflect its current programming direction, where the 2 was now depicted as a three-dimensional, anthropomorphic character. In 2006, BBC One adopted new "Circle" idents, which involved circles being formed by nature or people and their actions. The following year, BBC Two adopted a "Window on the World" theme for its idents, where the 2 symbol was now represented as a cut-out in various environments. In late-2014, the previous BBC Two idents used from 1991 were revived in honour of the channel's 50th anniversary.
In 2017, BBC One adopted a new series of idents known as "Oneness", directed by photographer Martin Parr, which feature groups of people in various locations across the UK. In 2018, BBC Two adopted new idents with a curve theme, evoking the shape of a 2.
In 2021, the BBC began to phase in the first modification to its corporate logo in 24 years. Whilst still featuring the same basic form of its predecessor, the blocks were given more space between them and slightly smaller lettering, and the typeface was changed from Gill Sans to the BBC's current corporate typeface BBC Reith Sans.
The logo was soft launched by the BBC Select streaming service in North America and BBC Kids channel in Australia. Eventually, the Reith blocks were officially adopted by most of the BBC's domestic television services on 20 October 2021, as part of a major corporate rebranding designed to create a more cohesive and consistent identity between the BBC's platforms and outlets. The rollout was expected to be completed in 2022 in anticipation of the BBC's centenary.
The initial launch included new on-air presentation elements for the BBC's television services, including new wordmark logos also using the font, and use of the blocks as part of new animated transitions. Specific BBC services, such as iPlayer, News, Sounds, and Sport have new icon logos, formed from arrangements of three rectangles representing the blocks. Most existing idents were retained on the 20 October 2021 launch, although with modifications to suit the new transitions. BBC Three returned to linear television in 2022, with its new idents centred around a trio of personified, animated hands. These are often referred to as the 'Thing' idents due to their likeness of The Addams Family character. BBC One launched its Lens idents on 1 April 2022; developed by BBC Creative and branding agency ManvsMachine, the idents feature scenes of activities in community spaces, with a circular "lens" effect revealing scenes of other activities taking place at the same location at different times of the day. Both CBBC and CBeebies rebranded with the new BBC cooperate logo on 15 March 2023.
The new BBC logo designs have not been without controversy, reportedly costing more than £7.26 million of the broadcaster's hypothecated tax revenue, and with many pundits commenting that the new designs are barely distinguishable from their immediate predecessors. Most of the rebrand's cost had been located for BBC News studio's redesign such as refurbishment of Studio B due to the corporate rebrand.
Variants of the 2021 BBC logoEdit
The logo with "This is Our" tagline.
- History of BBC television idents
- Noddy, the BBC1 mirrored globe ident.
- ^ a b c d Hayden Walker, History of BBC corporate logos Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. TV ARK. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- ^ "Modernising audience experience across the BBC" (Press release). BBC Media Centre. 19 October 2021.
- ^ a b "60 years since 'bat's wings' became first BBC TV symbol". BBC. 2 December 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
Sixty years ago today [i.e. on 2 December 1953] the BBC unveiled its first "television symbol" [..] The device known popularly as "the bat's wings" (or, in some hostile newspapers, simply as "the thing") was the solution [..] the man who won the commission was [..] Abram Games.
- ^ "TVARK - BBC One - Idents & Continuity".
- ^ "BBC 'an institution to be proud of'".
- ^ "BBC: United Kingdom".
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- ^ "BBC splashes out £7MILLION on new logos as over-75s are forced to pay licence fee". www.express.co.uk. 27 December 2022. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
- ^ "The BBC points out its role at the heart of British culture in new ad". Creative Review.
Media related to BBC logos at Wikimedia Commons