You know what’s old news? Telling people what channel they’re watching with a number. Over the years channel idents have gone from simple declarations of which frequency you’re on to mini-movies featuring anthropomorphic 2s, giant 4s looming out of the sky and lots of hippos swimming in circles.
However, Channel 4 have now gone one step further, doing away with the number 4 altogether in the channel’s first major rebrand in ten years. And frankly it’s quite confusing.
Instead of the current idents (which feature large number 4s made up from different landscapes, below), the new idents include a small dancing puppet-creature, monkeys blowing up a mountain and lots of babbling brooks. It’s all a bit strange, really.
Still, the 4 hasn’t gone completely – if you look closely, you can spot the “blocks” that make it up hidden among the new clips (e.g. going through medical tests), with said blocks also being used to inform viewers about upcoming programming (as can be seen in the below video) or representing programmes themselves (as this article’s main image does for the Simpsons).
“Most TV branding these days is like watching wallpaper,” said Chris Bovill and John Allison, heads of in-house agency 4Creative. “It’s pleasant but gets boring very quickly.
“However, 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 in the first place. They watch because Channel 4 stands for something important. We wanted the new branding to reflect this.”
Describing the meaning behind the change, the pair continued:
“The blocks are free to demonstrate our remit; to be irreverent, innovative, alternative and challenging. They are free to flow through everything on the channel: our typeface, on-screen menus, on-screen graphics, off-air logo, Channel 4 News, Channel 4 Racing, all the way through to the idents.
“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. It is a story that we shall build on.”
Yep, numbers are definitely a thing of the past – if I was a BBC1 hippo, I’d be getting worried…