ITV’s Rebrand Revisited

ITV’s Rebrand Revisited

Nigel Wally

Decipher’s Nigel Walley takes a look at the extraordinary amount of work that really goes into a 21st century channel rebrand.

When a high profile media institution like ITV re-brands, it causes headlines. There are always people who like a new look, and there are always people who don’t At Decipher we suspect that many of the people who complain about rebrands just don’t like change.

We would like to put on the record that we love the new look – particularly the mesmerisingly beautiful colour-picker idents that playout before programmes. But now the inevitable fuss over the new brand has died down, there are elements to the re-brand process that need to be highlighted.

It is fair to say that this is the first proper, 21st century TV re-brand (and before the UKTV marketing team get on the phone, we want to point out that they re-branded their channels before the launch of Tivo, Sky OnDemand, Netflix, and Lovefilm).

For a channel to rebrand in the 21st century is an unbelievably complicated process. Over and above the creative decisions that have to be made, and which are inevitably picked apart in the trade press and on social media channels, the distribution landscape is daunting.

The ITV team who implemented their re-brand had to deal with 18 different media platforms through which their content gets distributed. These span the big ‘national’ platforms like Sky and Virgin, where ITV offer channels, catch-up and archive on-demand; through to the international platforms like Netflix and Amazon Video which only offer on-demand.

Each of these platforms has multiple elements that require a logo, pack-shots, thumbnail images, and text data. It would appear that all of the platforms require those logos, pictures and text in a different size and file format. The ITV team had to audit, then supply these.

The platforms also have different rules on whether episodic thumbnails are required, and if the broadcaster logos can appear on images. There is clearly a case to be made for metadata standardisation across platforms.

While the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘TV Anytime’ project* is an attempt to do that, it doesn’t look like having an impact anytime soon.

To add complexity to what the ITV team had to deal with, each of the 18 platforms has a different process and timescale by which changes can be made, and that’s if you are lucky enough that the platform will give you a timetable for implementation. For the ITV team to have co-ordinated all this to happen on a single day last week is nothing short of extraordinary.

The most important element to highlight is that there was a team in place to do this in the first place. At Decipher, we have been flagging up for a while, that the set top box and device landscape represents a new ‘retail’ distribution challenge for TV. Most broadcasters are still struggling to come to terms with it, and we have been railing against what we call set-to-box blindness amongst senior broadcast management.

We find that those broadcasters and studios with a strong home entertainment department, and who are used to dealing with the challenges of ‘physical’ retail, make the transition into this new world easiest. They have had years of dealing with different retailers, point of sale display issue, product adjacencies etc.

The retail industry recognises this kind of category product management as a separate, crucial skill set. The need for this skillset is now arriving for TV and the ITV team who managed the rebrand should be viewed as the first, fully formed category management team in a UK broadcaster.

One key aspect of the re-brand interested us. With the new design, ITV brought the ITV Player brand firmly back into the core brand architecture. Previously, ITV had followed the BBC in having a fundamentally different brand approach for their online activity – ITV Player – one which was effectively competitive to the channel brands.

The BBC now stands alone in this. More subtly however, ITV has removed references to the ‘player’ on platforms where they are not responsible for the playout technology. Regular readers of our blog will recognise this as something we have railed against since the BBC first launched iPlayer branded pages on Virgin in 2007.

So ITV now have a different brand approach for Sky On Demand (where Sky control hosting and playout) to that on YouView (where the ITV Player team control and host playout). On Sky it’s not ITV Player, so they don’t say it is.

The new approach is a mature way to ensure two things: a good relationship with the platforms they work through, and clarity about when ITV is, and when it isn’t, responsible for on-demand. Not only can the ITV re-brand be said to be the first 21st century re-brand. But ITV have a claim to be the first truly 21st century broadcaster.

Connect with Nigel on Twitter.

This article was originally published by Decipher on their blog ‘Off Air’. Click here for more details.

*The TV Anytime project should not be confused with Virgin’s TV Anywhere product, or Comcast’s TV Everywhere project.

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