Channel 4 emphasises the numeral after refresh

Channel 4 has unveiled a new on-screen identity – but the number ‘4’ is nowhere in sight. The broadcaster has rolled out its latest brand across a series of posters and idents – the short films which appear before the start of a programme – which the creators say is ‘innovative and alternative’.

Instead of featuring the iconic colourful blocks of the Channel 4 number – which has been the focus of the station’s identity since 1982 – the new look has all-but dispensed of the numeric logo.

Instead, the classic logo has been broken into ‘elemental blocks’ which are separately scattered among cliffs and volcanoes in a series of abstract films.

The only place where the number will be seen in its full form is in the channel’s off-air advertising, such as posters.

Chris Bovill and John Allison, the heads of 4Creative, Channel 4’s in-house creative team which completed the re-brand, said they wanted to move away from ‘boring’ TV branding which can be like ‘watching wallpaper’.

‘Channel 4 is much more than just a big shiny number and some nice vibes. We didn’t want to tell people what channel they’re watching. We wanted to tell them why they’re watching it the first place.

‘They watch because Channel 4 stands for something important. We wanted the new branding to reflect this.’

The new identity includes a series of ‘idents’ created by Jonathan Glazer, the director of the art-house science fiction film Under the Skin.

The four films include a waterfall scene, showing the blocks as kryptonite-like shards hidden in bright pink rock, while another shows a bug-like creature dancing in a dark forest among flashes of the number buried in the earth.

Channel 4 unveiled the look earlier this week, ten years after its last rebrand, when the classic logo – created by Martin Lambie-Nairn in 1982 – appeared out of landscapes, such as corn fields.

Speaking about the process, Mr Bovill said: ‘We started with the original, iconic Lambie Nairn 4 logo and broke it down into its constituent parts; the nine blocks. The blocks are free to demonstrate our remit; to be irreverent, innovative, alternative and challenging.

‘The idents present the blocks as kryptonite-like. They tell the story of their origin and how they have a powerful impact on the world around them. Just as Channel 4 does.’

But the overhaul was met with derision. One viewer asked on a digital spy forum: ‘How does smashing the iconic 4 into little bits give the channel a stronger identity?’

Another wrote: ‘This must be the only channel which doesn’t want to include its logo on idents/promos.’

Graphic designed Neville Brody has also created two fonts new fonts: Chadwick – which will be used an an information font – and Horseferry, the headline font. The fonts are named after the streets which are home to Channel 4’s HQ.

Mr Brody said: I have always loved and respected the pioneering and influential brand design that Martin Lambie-Nairn created.

‘Having followed the growth and evolution of the channel from its birth and position as a vital rebellious independent cultural space, I am proud to have been involved in helping to develop the new visual language for the channel to help take it forward for the next decade.’

Grant Gilbert, creative director of DBLG, which worked alongside Channel 4, added: ‘We decided early on that we didn’t want to mess with the logo but instead find different ways to present it on air.

‘We have created an identity for Channel4 that has longevity and will evolve and express itself in different ways.’

Share