PBS on Monday unveiled a refreshed logo on the eve of the broadcaster’s 50th anniversary.

Like so many other legacy brands that are moving into the multiplatform era, PBS needed a mark that would work for it on-air, online and on mobile apps, said Don Wilcox, PBS’ vice president of multiplatform marketing and content.

“We came to realize that ten years in to the touchscreen era we were still working with a broadcast-centric design and needed to make it travel better across all platforms,” Wilcox said. “We needed to create a multiplatform brand that would work across all the screens that consumers use today.”

To help it make the transition, PBS turned to global creative consultancy Lippincott.

“Lippincott acknowledged the importance of getting it right and preserving the equity that we have,” said Wilcox. “They saw a need for a refresh but they didn’t want to make it so drastic that it became unrecognizable.”

Together, PBS and Lippincott determined that the public broadcaster had too much brand equity to leave its established mark behind, so instead they focused on sprucing up the logo. A big part of that was simplifying its existing logo (in the video above in black).

“We took what was a diffuse and layered heavy graphical treatment and created a cleaner, quieter design that let our blue-chip programming speak for itself,” said Wilcox. “What we have now is crisp, clean, modern, and reflective of a user interface.”

Those changes included making the profile shapes in the shield more human, adding more organic contours to the profiles and shifting the gazes slightly upward, said Wilcox. They also made those silhouettes larger so that whether the logo is shown large or very small, it remains clear on any platform. On broadcast, it turned to Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Nathaniel Howe Studios, which created a brand system for the new look with an easy-to-use toolkit of dynamic elements that evoke a digital user interface.

PBS also adopted a brand color, a vibrant PBS Blue that is intended to convey the integrity and trust that is key to the PBS brand. And it changed to a new proprietary font called PBS Sans created specifically for it by font studio Monotype.

Because PBS is a member organization composed of some 300 stations, getting everyone on board was a challenge. But over the next year, some 70 percent of the organization’s members will switch to the new brand architecture, Wilcox said.

“Getting to that point of consensus with stations of every imaginable size, resources and expertise with a system that works for everyone is daunting to say the least,” but after a more than two-year process, PBS got there.

Now, it’s asking only two things of its participating member stations: don’t break up the shield and the logo wherever the two are used, and use the signature brand color.

“PBS has connected with hundreds of millions of Americans through the stories that matter to our lives,” said Ira Rubenstein, chief digital and marketing officer, PBS, in a statement. “Our new look and feel better represents how we are doing that in today’s digital age, while also preserving the most iconic aspects of this beloved brand. From broadcast to every major streaming platform, from your screens to your communities, we’ve created one connected experience that spans PBS locally and nationally.”

Tags: brand refresh lippincott logo nathaniel howe studios pbs


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