24 September 2008

[logo_design, pnw_radio] KIRO-FM Radio – Crossbranding The New Kid, Breaking The Logo


A gentlemanly acquaintance in Seattle radio has let slip to me that one of the big FM outlets up that way, FM 97.3, KBSG (K-BattleStarGalactica?), popularly known as B97.3, a classic rock with personalities format, has given up music programming in favor of simulcasting Seattle stalwart KIRO 710 AM's talk content.

In order to bring the change home the station has rebranded KBSG. Formerly it was B97.3, "More Music, More Fun"

B97.3 KBSG Logo

This logo tells you a lot about the station – big fun, big happy, good music all the time, the sort of frequency you want to tune to when you want to feel good.

KIRO 710 AM is one of the old-line Seatlle stations. If it were in PDX radio, it would be up there with KXL, KEX, KGW (if it still existed as such, altho the name KPOJ has a respectable history). It's the "everybody's" radio station, judging by most of the talk hosts, and is home to the unappreciated genius that is Dave Ross (I've not heard his CBS Radio commentary in so danged long ...).

Heres the two standard logo treatments for KIRO 710 AM:


KIRO 710 AM-Vertical


KIRO 710 AM Horizontal

This is one fine logo. I'll explain why:

  1. It's complex without being complicated. The Space Noodle, which could be considered a fait accompli in Seattleized broadcast design (well, it is a signature landmark, yes) is rendered at its absolute essence and really really well. It forms an anchor for design and yet, despite its ephemeral quality, wins your attention against the bold type. I just totally enjoy this rendering.

  2. Bold type – it looks like Franklin Gothic – makes a bold statement. Note how the 1 in the 710 is the capital I, not the numeric 1.

  3. The slanted edge of the red clips the lower corner of the 7 in an interesting way. That's play going on there.

  4. But here's the real genius of the logo, and the biggest reason why I enjoy it. Note the slanted edge on the red stripe on the vertical edition. Follow it down. Notice how it aligns exactly with the left hand side of the leg on the R? This forms an implied structural line. Moreover, after you attention is captured by the Noodle, and your eye is led into the heart of the design by the slanted axis line. Graphic designers talk about eyeflow, about engaging the eye and guiding it with the structure of the design itself. This is eyeflow in action. The designer even reproduced the effect with the horizontal version, causing the slanted line to align with the W in the NEWS•TALK tagline. In this case, it creates unity in the design but doesn't divert the eye off of the KIRO; the heavy weight of the call sign keeps it in play.

Whoever came up with this logo really understood what they were doing, and took advantage of the type to create a strong unified piece out of disparate elements. Wish I'd of thought of this one!

Now, I told you all that to tell you this.

KBSG has begun, as of August, to rebroadcast KIRO's content. Consequently, they've rebranded themselves 93.7 FM KIRO News•Talk. Here's that logo.


KIRO 973 FM Vertical


KIRO 973 Horizontal

Same general design, yes. But it makes me cry and die a little inside.

  1. The stacked FM in the logo jumps right out at you ... kind of like a sliver in the eye. Ouch! All that horizontal unity messed up with a touch. In school they taught me that the stacking type was a big design nono. This is why. It also is a visual shout that the type was just kind of shoehorned in there.

  2. Notice the proportions have changed? To fit into a certain footprint, presumably, after the red stripe was stuffed with the new letterforms and the stacked type. The KIRO is bigger. The red strip is narrower (notice that the Noodle doesn't quite nicely tuck underneath the red bevel as it did before).

  3. The changing of proportions destroys the harmony which made all the parts work together as a unit. The clever red slant now connects to absolutely nothing. Everything just kind of sits together, uncomfortably. The stripe doesn't even line up in the horizontal display anymore, another victim of the stacked FM in the red.

Taking a well-done logo and breaking it really makes me sad. But wait! I hear you saying that well, wise unemployed designer guy, can you do it better?

Well, I don't know. But here's a possiblity (Note I used Impact here, as that's the font that harmonizes closest to the Franklin Gothic for purposes of the logo (we don't own a copy of Franklin Gothic but would if we could ... it's mad useful):

KIRO Alternate

... just get rid of that horrible stacked type.

Yep. No "FM". Why should there be? The AM logo doesn't say "710 AM". The decimal point in the frequency spec should be all the giveaway anyone needs.

Update: I mentioned Dave Ross and lamented not hearing him before going out and doing a little research. Someone as savvy as Ross naturally has a website (DaveRoss.com), and releases his commentary not only on the MyNorthwest.com omnibus site but also can be subscribed to via iTunes (information on the web site). You can also download for absolutely free an armload of his laugh-out-loud funny songs.

I wish Portland had someone like him. You lucky freakin' Seattleites get three hours a day five days a week of Dave. Pfui on ya's! But, seriously, if you don't like Dave Ross, then something's the matter with you. Seek professional help.

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Ben said...

You'll be pleased to know you can stream Dave Ross' commentary online at MyNorthwest.com - one day earlier before the CBS Network gets it, if I understand things correctly.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Actually, yes Ben, thank you for pointing that out. Dave Ross's commentary is indeed available at MyNorthwest.com. Also, an archive of his CBS commentary as well as his rather hilarious song stylings (I wonder if he and Larry Sturholm went to the same comedy school together) are available at his website, DaveRoss.com.

Go there and listen. If you don't like Dave Ross, there's something seriously the matter with you. Seek help.