29 December 2007

[logo_design] Channel Surfing: To The Nines

1215. Nearing ever closer to the top of the VHF dial, we at last take our exploration to the nines.

Starting out down under, we have one of Austrailia's major networks, the Nine Network. Oz has three major networks all known simply by a numeric name, seemingly based on the over-the-air channel that they originally started out on: Seven, Nine, and Ten. Nine is plain, simple, and effective, once again proving that sometimes a little design goes a hell of a long way:

Next we come back stateside. Bay News 9 is a cable channel serving Tampa-St Pete. Usually squashing type results in a highly irritating appearance, but this squashed type seems to be working. Perhaps it's because it looks "designed" to be squashed (the strokes seem designed with this in mind) and the way the type plays nice with the red and blue parallelograms:

Albany NY's Cable Channel 9 started out as being owned by the same people (Bay News 9 being started by Time Warner Cable, but is now owned by BrightHouse Networks) so they used the same logo treatment – only a little darker on the colors:

Now we go back on the air. Independent KCAL, channel 9, LA, has a logo that's all but identical to CBS2's Mandated design; the CBS eye is a silver disc with the call sign. The two stations are, in fact, owned by the same people, and the Mandate-ish approach reflects a unified branding strategy:

KCAU, Channel 9, Sioux City IA, uses a familiar number-in-a-circle treatment that we've seen in the 5's and the 8's, that holds the ABC logo in a close orbit:

KCRG, Channel 9, Cedar Rapids IA: the 9 as bevelled ribbon, with a dark blue background making sure the attention goes there:

KETC, Channel 9, St Louis, is one of the few PBS local stations that feature the channel number as part of the design – it looks like a design they've held for a while. Has a sort of classic air about it:

Eugene Oregon's own KEZI has a logo that's more about the background (judging by its use on screen and on the website) than it is about the design of the type or the number:

I'd choose another background for the ABC logo – the famous black ball gets completely lost in that dark blue. It lacks a certain personality overall. Distinctive but not memorable.

Tucson's Channel 9 is the only station that could be described as a sidearm. On Your Side, after all the logos we've looked at, tends to get a bit tired as a tag line, but I'd be very let down if KGUN used anything but:

The dull gradiated silver is trés appropos, neh?

KIXE, Channel 9, Sacramento, is a PBS station that shows appropriate cleverness in the way the channel number, as a Roman numeral, is not only incorporated into the call sign but also the design itself:

KMBC, Channel 9, Kansas City MO, has a delightful Circle 9 that looks informed by the famous Circle 7. Note also the typography and the angle-line separating the call and the city which we've also seen before:

FOX TV, KMSP, Minneapolis Saint Paul. FOX empire style.

I adore KNIN's (Boise) logo. This is a dead-skillful riff on retro TV title card deisgn that recalls the days of the forties and the fifties as far as graphic style goes but doesn't look dated; even the gangly tagline Entertainment Television works here (kind of recalling the days of when a station like KPTV would bill itself The Northwest Personality Station, as an example).

The CW logo lives in the bottom of the 9, providing net identification completely avoiding the yawn-a-riffic CW empire style. This gets best-of-breed in the 9's for The CW:

KTCS, Channel 9, Seattle, is plain and simple, but has design logic. Notice the way the stroke on the outside of the loop of the 9 merges back into the backbone, in that accentuated acute angle? The type finds interest in inherent design properties. Someone carefully chose this face, and even though they didn't alter it in any way, that's design at work too; the logic reveals itself with admirable subtlety. That type was chosen because of that subtle interest-generator. Once again, a little bit of design goes a long way:

KTRE 9, Lufkin and Nacogdoches TX, gets it done with a unified obliquing. Not exciting, but solid;

KTSM, El Paso, TX, blends a few idioms; there's the number in a circle, there's the distinctive "NewsChannel" sobriquet in the typeface used by KGW in Portland and KTVB in Boise, the Peacock providing coverage you can count on, and the tagline First. Live. Local. Though the way the three cities are positioned below the tagline, the waggish might infer that you only get it first in El Paso, live in Las Cruces, and local in Juarez:

KUSA has a cool call sign that is elided from its logo. The logo is businesslike and strong, nonetheless:

KUSI is another station that identifies by its cable channel (probably because UHF channel numbers seem to make weak branding for a serious metropolitan news operation):

The visual pun in KWES's (Midland-Odessa, TX) logo is obvious, and the truncation of the red rectangle behind the blue one adds interest to a logo that would otherwise be locked-down and kind of boring:

Also, notice how the letters WES and T actually seem a little smaller than the K and the V? This is a visual property that can be worked around. Of course, the designer may have meant for this to happen in this logo; if not, you'd make the middle letters just a minim bigger, which would, paradoxically, make all the type look the same size.

KWTV, Oklahoma City, uses red-white-and-blue and a dependable 9-styling to communicate. Burly type also communicates seriousness. The 9 being bigger than the blue square and knocking out the blue makes it interesting (note how small the CBS eye is here, which is unusual):

WAFB, Baton Rouge LA, has a kind of reverse-Mandate graphic look to it (and makes the unstyled-9 work in a Classic TV-Guide-Like graphic mode):

WAOW, Wausau WI, has a 9 that has a classic air about it:

WCPO, Channel 9, Cincinnati. Note again the accentuated angle under the "armpit" of the 9, just as the KCTS 9, generates interest without specifically being designed for this application. The use of color is fun too:

WFTV, 9, Orlando FL, has Eyewitness News – and a line tying all elements together:

WGN, Channel 9, Chicago, one of the legendary independents, is a CW station now. The CW lives alongside a distinctive call-and-number design, and likes it:

WMUR, Channel 9, Manchester NH: works, but could use a just a bit more design (somehow a red stripe, yellow hairline, and sliver-gray gradation just don't bring this one all the way):

Channel 9, WNCT, Greenville NC – nothing much to say here (On Your Side, check, sliver crescent, check), we've seen this one before:

The CW on their DT subchannel is funny only because the phrase "Eastern North Carolina" has that odd ring that adding a directional affix to something that already has a direction in it has:

WSOC, Charlotte NC, has a 9-on-a-disk that works because of the subtle touches that make the 9 fit exactly inside the circle (the edges of the 9 respect the space), and the effective use of rich, kind-of-"pastel-y" color:

WSYR Syracuse NY uses a typeface that TriMet uses in its collateral (note the miniscule l) and some basic brushed-metal texture to make the 9 stand out. Not the first station to logoize into a series of rectangles, but it works:

WTOV has a typographical approach that we've seen before. As I'm writing this, I've forgotten which one, and I'm kind of rushed for time, so I'll run that down later (FWIW, I enjoy the way the W and V are longer than the T and O, and frame the Peacock. The warm gradient in the 9 is good too):

WTVA, Tupelo MS, has a really adventurous and fun take on the 9-in-circle:

WTVC, Chattanooga, also has an effective Circle 9, and if they're going to channel yet more news, at least they're not on my side. That's getting painful:

Me WTVM! Me have big 9! ME NEWS LEADER! People of Columbus GA, FEAR NEWS LEADER! (Seriously, this is a good one, but I love the staccato of WTVM News Leader 9, and we never pass up the opportunity for cheap humor, as has been amply demonstrated). Notable design point: the docked tail of the 9, which was docked not too long or short but just right:

And, finally it's appropriate that WUSA is in Washington DC. The 9 is cool because it reminds me of speech bubbles in cartoons, thus suggesting something that has stories to tell. I'd rework that CBS eye in the call though; I when I watch TV, I don't want the TV watching me back (I've read 1984):

Thanks for being with us for this episode, good peoples, and please stay tuned for episode 10. And, in the mean time, let's go out with a song:

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Kevin Allman said...

These are fun. I still remember the "Atomic 9" from my youth-hood (it's now the much more boring KCAL-9):


And here's a clip of the Channel 9 logo in its heyday, at the beginning of "MV3," which was a local version of American Bandstand. That was a great show - half local bands and half New Wave videos from England (which was the only place to see them). If you watch the credits, you'll see the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were about 18, along with some no-hit wonders from the local music clubs:


Next door to Channel 9 was a once-grand, then-seedy Olde Hollywoode hangout called "Nickodell's." They weren't fussy about checking IDs, so my friends and I ended up there often, drinking up the faded splendor and a lot of G&Ts. The best part was that the anchor of the Channel 9 News, Jerry Dunphy (the model for the Mary Tyler Moore show's Ted Baxter), used to come in for a snort between broadcasts.

It was surreal - the 8 o'clock news would end, and at 9:01 he'd walk through the door and pound down a few. At 9:55 he'd walk out, and five minutes later you could see him back at the anchor desk on the bar TV. The man could hold his liquor.

Anyway - quite a digression, but it all came back to me when I saw that lame-assed corporate 9.

Samuel John Klein said...

Loooove that "atomic 9"... with that big-ass camera out in the desert, it looks like they're trying to film an atomic test, so it works on two levels.

The dating on the music program is so charming it defies words. And what program like that is complete without a host with a name like "Richard Blade". I'm sure that's his real name, yep, ah-hah.

You make a good point about the cool corporateness about the 9. That's why I responded to KNIN's title-card logo so strongly. It has wit and charm and warmth. I actually enjoy the KCAL-Mandate-insipred 9, but that's on the way it deftly uses design and branding principles to carry off its message. But charming? No. not at all really. Kind of cold and impersonal. It works, but you wouldn't want to cuddle up against it.