BBC America wants cable and satellite viewers to know it's just “a little Brit different.”
The nine-year-old digital basic-cable network is rolling out a new logo, on-air navigation messaging, the tagline above and network IDs on Jan. 17. It's all designed to communicate that even though the programming is from England, it's about lifestyles “we all share,” said general manager Kathryn Mitchell.
“Whether you're in London, Afghanistan or Paris, Texas, it is still all about the stories,” she said.
The network will keep the red, white and blue colors — a scheme shared by both the U.S. and the United Kingdom — but drop the Union Jack symbolism. Research has shown that a segment of viewers think the network is “all about red buses and bowler hats,” Mitchell said, while the new campaign will position “a bit of Britishness in the American landscape.”
Other potential viewers still have confusion between the cable channel and the parent company's news division, which distributes news to PBS stations and other outlets as the BBC World Service (in addition to the new BBC World News channel), according to network research.
The new logo will focus on the “A” in BBC America. As a grade, that letter connotes excellence, she noted, and the letter will be at the center of three concentric circles, creating what network officials quip is their “bulls-A.”
Mitchell said the network also wanted to move away from computer-generated graphics in its interstitial messaging and toward live action. Research revealed that the old imaging, with extensive use of the color white, left viewers feeling cold. The new campaign is designed to leave a warm, friendly impression.
BBC America drafted from among 14 U.K. and U.S. design agencies for its new look, eventually selecting Los Angeles-based MOcean (pronounced “motion”) as the agency handling the network's new look. MOcean is a cable veteran, having designed campaigns and promotions for FX Network, The Learning Channel and Discovery Channel, as well as a previous program promotion for BBC America's Footballers Wives series.
The agency designed 12 IDs to tell little stories that reveal the new logo in various American landscapes.
In one spot, a “biker chick” emerges from a roadhouse, struts past a parked Harley-Davidson motorcycle and instead mounts a Vespa motor scooter.
In another, a traditional black London cab turns the wrong way onto a Manhattan street to be confronted by a phalanx of American yellow taxis.
Mitchell said she really wanted a crisp tagline, and MOcean came in with the “little Brit different” quip with its first pitch.
The network will also integrate the new logos and images into a completely redesigned Web site (www.bbcamerica.com).