Logo Design Love

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BBC logo design evolution

bbc logo design

The history of BBC television logos dates back to the 1950s. They were first used by BBC to differentiate their channels from one another. Here are some examples of the older BBC logos along with further resources for more details.

old bbc logo

BBC can trace its roots back to the year 1936 when it became the world’s first broadcaster of a regular high-definition TV. The first attempt at proper branding dates back to the 1950s when the company started to use idents to distinguish each of their channels. It was Abram Games — famous for creating the logo for The Festival of Britain — who created BBC’s first identity, also known as Bat’s Wings.

old bbc logo

One year later, BBC was launching a second channel. BBC2 was the first channel to broadcast colour pictures in the UK. The TV station promoted its use of colour by including reference to the station identity. This was to function as a reminder to the audience to buy a colour television set.

By the 1980’s, the channel adopted the futuristic stripy lettering and BBC One’s clocks became digital entities.

old bbc logo

In 1988, a new logo designed by Michael Peters began to be used on such BBC products as paper cups, videos, books and stationery.

BBC logo design reading

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

18 appreciated comments

  1. As always, an interesting analysis of a logo’s evolution. What struck me most is that the core of the logo – the boxed BBC letterings, withstood the test of time and the evolution in the what was fancy at the time. Maybe that’s one thing that makes this logo so familiar and eye catching. Another thing that struck me was in the additional reading…At one point, in 1967, the BBC2 logo (the blue with the white dot) was really futuristic and well ahead of its time. It quickly “degenerated” though in the 70’s. Great post indeed Dave ! Keep it up !

  2. cat

    Before I studied design I thought the BBC logo was outdated, past its prime, and a terrible idea to being with to boot.

    Now that I know more and have my own taste in design, I feel it’s a logo that will continue to just be what it is. A decent logo.

    cat’s last blog post…Illustratorium

  3. cat

    ‘begin’ not ‘being’… (that’s what I get for editing twice and checking once)

    cat’s last blog post…Illustratorium

  4. Daniel Blackball.

    bring back the bat wings!

    Im actually surprised they went from the fairly classy bat wings to the terrible 62 logo.from there it seems to go downhill , although i think the current logo is fairly successful.thanks for the post , interesting to stack them up next to each other.

  5. I bet the ‘Bat’s Wings’ logo would be a real pain to reproduce clearly on a fax, mug, etc. I don’t think they will be bringing it back anytime soon. It is cool looking though. Kind of Art Deco.

  6. Personally I love the 67 version, not that great for brand application through different media but I suppose back then it didn’t really matter. Thing is these days a solid brand strategy seems to win out over weak logo designs, the words make more sense in the boardroom than the visual. BUT we aint bitching here, great post again David!! Batwings lightening bolts kinda make feel warm inside.

    al woods’s last blog post…Woods Creative ftw!

  7. I think the new BBC logo does what all good logos should:

    It works well in B+W
    It is Memorable
    It works well at small sizes

    I bet this logo would still be legible at 4mm in length!

  8. Justin,

    Thanks a lot for commenting. Glad you enjoy reading.

    Cat,

    I’ve always liked the simplicity of the three boxes, and how adaptable they are. What I’m not so keen on is the website favicon. Some detail becomes lost at 16×16. Hope you’re well.

    Daniel,

    Even though the ’62 logo is poor, I imagine it was easier to reproduce than the ‘bat wings’. Perhaps that was one reason for the change.

    Peter,

    I’m with you on the art deco similarities.

    Al,

    Can’t say I’m as enthusiastic over the ’67 version, but glad those ‘bat wings’ prompt a warm feeling. :)

    Andrew,

    All good points. What do you think of the website favicon? Reduced a little too much?

  9. cat

    “Some detail becomes lost at 16×16″

    Agreed.

    “Hope you’re well”

    I’m still working through the process…

    cat’s last blog post…Illustratorium

  10. @David, yeah, a little, but still legible with good eye-sight, lol.

  11. Excellent insight. The one by Michael Peters looks very calm and classic.

  12. You know I think every single version of it is a good solid design without breaking away from it’s core look and feel.

    Except for the 1988 version – which you can forgive, as this was a time of extreme bad taste in all matters of design, lol ;)

    I’m a little bit dodgy about the 1962 version as well.

    Amanda Vlahakis’s last blog post…Couture In A Box Project

  13. Here’s hoping this new week brings a new lease of well-being, Cat.

    Amanda,

    Are there some other 1988 designs you had in mind for bad taste? Could make for a nice blog post. ;)

  14. Just for completeness the 1997 version was designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn with guidelines by the now no more Rodney Fitch (both design businesses as opposed to individuals).

  15. Good of you to add those details, Nick. Thanks a lot.

  16. I am not familiar with the ones before 1988 so interesting to see. Would be great to see the other channels logo development too, I think bbc2 and channel 4 are doing great things, also, not a channel, but noticed the F1 logo the other week when watching the racing, thought it was fab, wish I had thought of it!

  17. Hi Freya,

    The Channel 4 branding is superb. I particularly like how their individual style guides are available for download through the website.


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