ViacomCBS is changing its name to Paramount
ViacomCBS has announced that it’s changing its name from a camel case mashup to a classic brand from its corporate lineage.
Starting Feb. 16, 2022, ViacomCBS will change its name to Paramount.
Officially, the company will be known as Paramount Global, but will use just the Paramount name in public facing uses.
The name ViacomCBS was announced when CBS Corp. and Viacom merged in 2019 — so it’s only lasted a little over two years.
The name change is meant to help emphasize the company’s growing scope in the media landscape. On the investor call where the name change was announced, execs also discussed plans for expanding its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and abroad, which works out conveniently with the name change.
By selecting Paramount as its new corporate moniker, the company is switching to a classic name that draws on the Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. name first used in 1927, prior to any Viacom or CBS involvement.
The name is perhaps most familiar to consumers from the production logo appearing before movies produced by film studio Paramount Pictures.
By definition, the word “paramount” is defined by as “more important than anything else; supreme,” according to Oxford Languages. The use of the mountain in the company’s logo is likely drawn from the “mount” part of “paramount” and the fact that a mountain’s apex is also, symbolically speaking, a good visual depiction of something be “more important” or “supreme.”
The Paramount name has also been used for a television production studio, a standalone television network that existed from 1948 to 1956 and, indirectly, in the UPN network until it closed up in 2006. UPN was short for “United Paramount Network” and got its name from partners United Television and the aforementioned Paramount Television unit.
The name has also been in more recent rebrands. In 2018, Viacom rebranded Spike to the Paramount Network name and, most recently, the Paramount name was the choice for the new name of the streamer formerly known as CBS All Access after the second Viacom-CBS merger. The name was adopted in 2021.
The 2018 Paramount Network is distinct from the Paramount Television Network; the latter was more of a true network with affiliates, while the former is a cable channel.
Paramount+’s icon is one of the most simplified versions of the longtime mountain and star motif. It, of course, also added a “+” symbol that was drawn to match the angle in the logotype.
Paramount Network, Paramount+ and Paramount Pictures use different variations of the design, with slightly different depictions of the mountain, positioning of the stars and logotype and use of a circle or not.
Starting Feb. 16, viacomcbs.com redirects to paramount.com, which previously featured a “coming soon” page.
The new site features a bespoke typeface called ViacomCBS Raisonne that was also used on the coming soon version and is also featured extensively in Paramount+.
That is notably not TT Norms, the corporate typeface CBS and ViacomCBS adopted and switched both the CBS logotype (with the famous eye) and ViacomCBS logotype to. Previously, CBS used the serif Didot. The name of the font also still references the ViacomCBS name.
The company also released an animated version of the logo that uses a similar approach to the film studio’s production card, showcasing a photorealistic computer generated mountain chain with stars flying in before fading to a solid blue background.
There’s also a musical cut that contains the Paramount Pictures signature but is different from the cut used on the Paramount+ production card.
That said, Paramount is much more consistent with its signature script-style logotype and perhaps could use this corporate rebranding as an opportunity to streamline the various logo designs a bit, much like CBS has taken on a “deconstructed eye” brand standard.
CBS has invested heavily in its rebranding, including renaming and updating logos for various divisions, including CBS Television Distribution becoming CBS Media Ventures and, most recently, its streaming news service CBSN renaming itself as CBS News and taking on the same logo as its parent division. CBS Sports also made the switch.
CBS also has a unique mnemonic musical signature for many of its divisions, but they are all based on a five note tune that’s supposed to tie in to the line “This is C-B-S.”
The Paramount mountain is the oldest film studio logo still in use today, though it has gone through several updates and iterations over the years and the production logo has become more realistic, as opposed to a glyph or icon. It’s also made the transition from painted plates to computer generated imagery.
The mountain itself does not depict an actual landform, unlike another famous mountain-based corporate logo, the Prudential Financial icon that’s based on the Rock of Gibraltar, though it, too, has been updated over the years.
The name ViacomCBS came about around the same time that AT&T renamed Time Warner as WarnerMedia, which notably also uses a camel case combination of two words. That name, however, is on its way out as AT&T prepares to spin off WarnerMedia to Discovery Inc. where it will become known as Warner Bros. Discovery, a name that also revives the direct reference to the iconic Warner Bros. film studio name and look before a redesign in 2019.
The name Viacom has its roots when, in 1971, CBS spun off its syndication division under the Viacom name after an FCC rule prohibited networks from owning syndication companies (that rule no longer exists). In 1986, Viacom was bought by National Amusements, a theater company, and acquired Paramount Pictures in 1994.
Then, in 1999, Viacom announced plans to merge with its former parent company CBS, which itself had merged with Westinghouse Electric in 1995, taking the CBS name.
In 2005, the two companies split.
Then, in 2019, CBS and Viacom announced plans to merge for a second time, taking on the ViacomCBS name.
The company’s stock symbols will also change, with Class A shares moving from VIAC to PARA for Class B common shares. Class A common shares will transition from VIACA to PARAA and preferred class will become PARAP, formerly VIACP.
Below is the full text of a memo ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone and CBS president and CEO Bob Bakish sent to employees:
We could not be prouder of this incredible company.
It has been one year since the spectacular launch of Paramount+ and two years since the successful merger of Viacom and CBS. In that time, we have shown the world what we knew from the start: that together, aligned around a shared vision and shared strategy, we create a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
This is an exciting moment in the history of our company. Our streaming business is growing fast—and going global. Our broad and varied portfolio of content is captivating audiences around the world. Our brands are firing on all cylinders. And as results from the fourth quarter and the whole of last year make clear, our momentum is accelerating. The size of the opportunity we see ahead is matched only by our determination to seize it.
An iconic global company deserves an iconic global name. One that reflects the power of our content; one that reflects our role as stewards of a rich heritage and as leaders in the future of entertainment.
With this in mind, as we’re announcing today at our investor event, ViacomCBS is becoming Paramount Global, or, more simply, Paramount.
For more than a century, the name Paramount has been synonymous with great entertainment and industry leadership. It’s part of our history, as pioneers of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
But as Paramount+ has made clear, it’s also about our bright future.
And, not least, it’s an idea: a promise to be the best.
As Paramount, our name will reflect who we are, what we aspire to be, and all that we stand for. It will help advance our strategy of harnessing all our strength and breadth in building the businesses of tomorrow. And it will capture the collective power of our global assets, from our amazing brands—CBS, Showtime, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian, Paramount Pictures, Paramount+, Pluto TV and more— to our global reach and our diverse audiences. All of which adds up to Paramount being the pre-eminent home to, and producers of, the world’s greatest content.
We will succeed because we have the best team in the industry: all of you. This change in our name is a testament to the excellence you embody—to the evolution you’re leading, every single day.
Thanks to your hard work and vision, we have never been more excited about the future of this company. Together, Paramount is on the ascent—and ready to reach new heights.
Bob and Shari
More to come