BBC one’s £1.2 m “re-brand”

To help it stand out from the plethora of digital channels fighting for attention in the UK, television channel BBC1 has just spent £1.2 million on eight new "idents": the 10 second clips that link programmes. These have a consistent circular design, including hippos swimming and surfers filmed in Mexico. The other big change is that the logo will now have, wait for it, a lower case "o" to replace the "O" in One. So that’s BBC one. Not BBC One. According to the head of marketing this "re-brand" will present "a warmer, friendlier feel".

This comes across as "image wrapper" branding, working on the outer presentation of the brand, rather than the fundamentals of the product. What’s more, the identity change is so minor that the you wonder if anyone apart from the BBC will notice (admittedly, its hard to change such an iconic brand too much).

To make things worse, the timing of the launch of the new idents and logo came on the same day as the announcement of a further 108 job cuts, bringing the total to 428. A spokesperson from the broadcasting union summed up the re-branding perfectly: "The money spent on the new idents could have paid for at least 30 staff to help maintain programme standards. It is the quality of the programmes that keeps the license payers watching, not the new channel idents".

The new idents do look spectacular, and I for one prefer them versus the previous lot, but the change would have been much more effective if it had been accompanies with some more "sausage" i.e. an announcement about innovation and investment in programming.

5-minute workout: are your comms. and brand identity efforts supporting real product improvement, or are they just image wrapper branding?