BBC gets new logo as part of overall rebranding effort

The BBC is updating its longtime logo design and adding a series of distinctive sub-brands for each of its major services.

The redesign, which launched Oct. 20, 2021, has its roots going back to 2017 when the broadcaster announced it had commissioned a custom bespoke font for its use: BBC Reith, named for one of the key figures in its founding.

BBC Reith began showing up on air in the organizations’ various broadcasts, including news graphics and promos. It was also introduced on sub-brands — such as being used in “One” and “Two” for the logos used to distinguish between the channels. “News” and other similar labels were also switched over.

At the time, however, the broadcaster said it would stick with Gill Sans as the font in its familiar three-box logo — which had been used since 1997.

Old BBC logo with Gill Sans. The humanist typeface was originally developed for the London Underground.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the BBC is now going “all in” with Reith — switching the letters in its logo to the font.

At the same time, the scale of the letters is being adjusted down slightly, making them “fit” better within the squares. In some ways, the move is similar to the American network ABC’s redraw of its longtime logo that included more generous spacing and closer attention to how the letters are drawn.

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Part of the BBC’s redesign was driven by internal research that said audiences thought some of the broadcaster’s services looked “old fashioned,” according to Kerris Bright, the broadcaster’s chief customer officer.

In this overlay, the old logo is shown in the red tint, while the new one is gray, illustrating how the boxes are now spaced differently and the logo boxes’ size. 

In addition to the use in the primary logo, the three-box concept has been reimagined in a series of icons that represent various services the BBC offers.

In the schema, each service gets a unique color and icon that’s made of three rectangular or square shapes meant to evoke what the service provides.

“Over the coming months, we will be modernizing all aspects of our services so the experience feels coherent wherever you access our content. We’ll join the dots between the different bits of the BBC through simplified layouts and graphics,” explains Bright.

BBC iPlayer, the network’s video-on-demand service, has the suggestion of a “play” button formed inside the three rectangles. iPlayer currently has its own, standalone logo.

BBC Sport retains its yellow look from its 2017 redesign, with three staggered horizontal bars suggestive of motion, track or swim lanes or marks on fields.

BBC Sounds, the network’s collection of audio offerings, is using orange with a series of three vertical bars of increasing size, suggestive of sound waves or a speaker icon.

BBC Bitesize, a digital educational resource for U.K. students, switches to violet with three vertical bars that suggest books on a shelf — with one “propped up” on the far right.

The weather division gets sky blue colors with a shape that’s suggestive sun rays or, when viewed more abstractly, precipitation, fronts or other similar concepts. 

Finally, BBC News claims the iconic “China red” color with three boxes of varying sizes and proportions, a look that suggests interconnectivity and even a slight suggestion of the geography of the British Isles. 

Bright says that iPlayer and Sounds are already evolving with the new look and will continue to do so, with updates to news, weather, sport and Bitesize following.

Meanwhile, the new logo has already been soft-launched in the U.S. and will start appearing on the regionalized feeds of BBC One, Two and Four immediately.

“As we update our digital services it makes sense to modernize how we present them too,” said Bright.

These channels will get updated idents and bumps that include a rustier red for BBC One along with subtle circular textures, while BBC Two retains the unique curve inspired by the numeral “2.” 

BBC Four features a deep violet with a touch of orange and uses a “quad” based look. 

The broadcaster also released a short animated sequence of how the new look will be applied to its digital platforms, including looks at the iPlayer and Sounds interfaces as well as mobile apps for its various services.

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