BBC Two and Channel 4 rebrands dissected by Owen Dowling
Looking at BBC Two first (for once), the rebrand feels like it’s asserting a renewed core commitment to “lifting the brow” of content, with elegant but unpredictable lines over complex fluid shapes promising rich intellectual discoveries. It’s resisting what I imagine is being trotted out in consumer focus groups, that BBC Two is too ivory tower or cerebral for everyone. I say “good”.
If I have interpreted this correctly, and as I feel they’ve intended we’re all meant to, we can imagine a programming experience which will become more unapologetically sophisticated. Sir Patrick Stewart reading us Under Milk Wood in front of a roaring fire, or Melvyn Bragg as the little Dutch Boy saving us from a flood of superficiality.
By contrast, with its new idents, Channel 4 is committing to a more eclectic and challenging smorgasbord of entertainment options, loosening up its branding with a genuine swagger. Visceral at times, hilarious or arthouse at others, all-in-all it evokes a sense of restless curiosity and a promise to go wherever culture is headed, no matter how crazy, conceptual or ragamuffin it gets. I’m excited for the sense of renewed energy and anarchy in there.
I’m glad the two rebrands are happening at the same time. They give me hope that these two genuinely progressive channels will resist the “wind tunnel” effect of market forces that often soften the edges of a product and end up limiting consumer choice. As Oliver Cromwell famously said, ‘he who stops being better, stops being good’. Here’s to a positive broadening of the palette!