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BBC11!’s new logo

Jan 6th, 2016

The BBC unveiled a revamped logo for, their now exclusively online channel, BBC Three yesterday. I always love it when brands reveal new identities and a whole bunch of people volunteer their opinions on it within seconds. More often than not these criticisms are pretty harsh but also frank and honest.

As BBC’s Nikki Carr wrote in her blog post about the new logo, “some people are resistant to change”. And while this is very true I also believe a lot of people recognise and respond well to ‘change for the better’.

The channel was launched in 2003 with a shouty, uppercase, bold sans-serif skewed to simulate a sort of swiveled perspective with a slightly muted blue coloured backdrop. Then almost eight years ago they updated to a bright pink, lowercase version of the word “three” allowing them to be a little more playful (and even adapted it into a tube version allowing them to pass liquids or light through the whole logo). Now, it’s simply four blocky shapes positioned in three columns as shown below.

“New BBC Three is founded on three principles that underpin everything we do,” writes Carr. “The first is ‘make me think’ — hard hitting documentaries like Suicide and Me and thought provoking drama like Murdered By My Boyfriend. The second is ‘Make me laugh’ — distinctive comedy like People Just Do Nothing or new entertainment shows like Murder In Successville. The third, the exclamation mark, is ‘Give me a voice’, which is what we will do for young people.”

So what do people think? What’s being said about it – good or bad – and do any of these comments carry any real weight? After a brief scurry around Twitter I’ve recognised the three most commonly occurring pieces of feedback are the following:

“It looks like “ill” upside-down”
This is true, but I personally don’t think that matters at all. Cartoon Network’s “CN” logo looks like “NO” when viewed upside-down. Rotating the Apple logo one-eighty reveals a bum dropping a jobby… to some people. I don’t think that viewing a logo from the wrong way up is a very scientific method of spotting a bad one. If anything, this fact makes the logo a little more fun and there will always be ways to distort a logo into looking like something else. Have you ever rotated the Sony logo and then hidden some of it? No? Me neither. Well, maybe I have.

“It doesn’t even say three”
By far the most popular criticism over this new logo is that you could argue it looks more like the roman numeral for two followed by an exclamation mark; thus making it an ident for BBC Two albeit a rather excited/angry one (that or BBC 11). Although I agree with this I think had this been released as the rebrand for BBC Two almost everyone seeing it would instantly agree that it would be a far more successful logo as BBC Three. Also, when I saw it on the iPlayer page it’s clear that the exclamation mark is less obvious giving prominence to the tri-column effect. But who says it’s roman numerals anyway? In binary 11 represents 3 and with the channel being purely online I’d argue this digital method of depicting numerical values is far more relevant than roman numerals.

“It doesn’t line up with the BBC logo above”
The columns aren’t as wide as the BBC blocks above them and as a result some people are feeling a disconnect that they feel is maybe quite lazy or just plain wrong. One kind tweeter decided to supply two alternatives putting the argument to rest by showing how bloated, blocky and lost the design is when the widths match; and also centre-aligned each pillar below its respective block (rather than left-aligning the first and right-aligning the third). Again this proves to muddy the logo and shows the original to be the strongest solution in terms of weight and spacing. Regardless, I would assume the logo will likely appear without the BBC part as often as it appears with it (and it won’t always be grouped in this fashion anyway).

I don’t think it’s groundbreaking or anything, but it certainly isn’t as bad as people’s reactions are making it out to be. What are your own thoughts (play nice)?

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