Channel 5 and BBC3’s high profile identity redesigns are left burned by the heat of close proximity to Channel 4’s searing genius.
Close-quarter competition is brutal and unforgiving. We glory in how the mighty have fallen. However, a much more genteel contest has ensued among some numbers recently. TV channels BBC3, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have all rebranded in the last six months but alarmingly 3 and 5 already look tired and irrelevant in close comparison to 4’s blisteringly cool and abstract approach. They appear analogue in a digital age that Channel 4 has ‘owned’ with creative shock and awe. 3 and 5 unveiled clever numerical solutions whereas 4 dispensed with such everyday conventionality entirely!
Channel 4 didn’t so much take it to the line, more like they got to the line… jumped onto a bullet train… then raced way WAY past the line! The entire creative approach is so effortless and simple, so elegant and sophisticated. 3 and 5 look like they’re trying too hard, appearing like ideas that never became fully developed – the aspiring Shoreditch hipsters trying achingly hard to be cool but then they had the misfortune to find themselves either side of the real deal.
It’s not that they aren’t examples of good design, they certainly are. It’s just that by misfortune they sit beside such shining quality that they look glum in comparison. Channel 4’s bravura is all thanks to thinking outside of the (telly) box, trusting in creativity, being unbound, being brave enough to take a creative idea to its conclusion. That requires genius, courage and faith to see it through.
“Our starting point was that Channel 4 is so much more than just a number,” says Chris Bovill, head of 4Creative, Channel 4’s inhouse agency. “We’ve actually got something to say, we’ve got a remit – to be original, alternative, innovative, to be surprising, to be bold. We stand for this – let’s make the branding reflect that. So instead of just telling people what they’re watching, tell them why they’re watching. The broadcast media landscape is a much more complicated place than it was ten years ago, so there’s a need to stand out more than ever before. It’s something that Channel 4 could own. That was the big thing – to create something that when you look at it, you know it is Channel 4.”
Whoever you are, whatever your business, you have close competitors and the need to stand out, to be distinctive and to define who you are has never been more crucial. However, just throwing cash at a branding agency and casually asking for a shiny new logo by next week is not the answer. Invest in true creativity, engage in the creative process and define who you truly are. But, when the challenging moment arrives, be brave and bold, embrace change, trust fully in the designers’ talents and allow them to develop the proposition to its logical conclusion – set their creativity free and give them the stage. It’s what I’m calling ‘Bravura’ Branding – effect for effect’s sake, alchemic boldness, fire and brilliancy.
Genius doesn’t reside solely in the frappuccino-fuelled mind of graphic designers however – inspiration can be found in the seconds after your sharp intake of breath when you decide “Actually, this is all so new and it ‘does’ scare me but I believe in myself and the designer and I know this will shine brightly. I dearly want to be a 4 and not a 3 or 5.”