15 December 2007

[logo_design] Channel Surfing: Welcome to The Circle 7 Dude Ranch

1187. Now, I hope that you took the advice in the last chapter of Channel Surfing, pard'ner; got your chaps and spurs on? Good. We're going to take a little vacation out to a little place they call the Circle 7 Dude Ranch. Seems it's got branches all over...

From LA on the west coast (KABC)....

To Bangor, all the way over in Maine (WVII):

Even them city slickers in Detroit like to get away to the ranch every now'n'then:

With a fancy name like "WXYZ", I don't imagine they'd be forgettin the name terrible much.

We got a lot of Circle 7's around. Just look at what we found:

KATV, Little Rock:

KETV, Omaha, has a variation on the theme, with a familiar angled line separatin' the call from the city:

Then theres' San Fran:

... Seattle ...

... Tyler, TX ...

KMGH, Denver, has a prettied-up version:

And, if ya want to, you can put on your KOAT and head on into Albuquerque.

There's a branch of the Ranch in Redding, CA ...

... and Lawton, OK (they have a station in Lawton? Yep, they do) ...

It's no surprise that there's a Ranch in El Paso... but that's Texas, after all:

and then there's WBBJ, Jackson MS:

Now, in Boston, WHDH is steppin' out pretty as a peacock ... with an actual peacock (never understand them city folk):

WJLA in Washington DC looks refined as only something from that big town can:

And there's WSVN in Miami ...

And there's WWSB, Sarasota, Channel 40 if you use an antenny, but it's a ranch like the Ponderosa–it's channel 7 only on cable:

It's the same in Naples, Florida, where it you use your old-fashioned tuner, it's actually WZVN Channel 26:

Now people reckon there's a story behind things like this. And, as it turns out, that is true here too.

Long time ago, when ABC was stakin' its O&O claim, it got the idea that a unified look would be a good thing. So, in 1962, this fella named G. Dean Smith (city fella, by the looks of that name), came up with this simple idea–a circle, a line, and a curve, which made a nifty brand. The ABC boys branded thier best cattle–the O&O's–which existed in some of the biggest stockyards they had then.

Well, you know, once a few people saw it they liked the look, and you all know how fashion is. At first the franchises on channel 7 asked to use it. Then it got out of the corral, and kind of spread all over the place, as the above rundown has demonstrated.

Today, the Circle 7 is one of the most honored and classic TV station logos there is. I mean, look how many of them there are–you can't beat a winner like that!

(okay, let's stop talking like a stereotypical cowpoke. We were getting dust in our mouths. Besides, the Wikipedia article on Circle 7 tells you everything detailed you need to know).

Seriously, though, the Circle 7 shows us something great about great logos and fashion; some of the classics are amongst the most simple, which also makes them memorable. These logos don't say "television", but a solid and long association with famous O&O's makes it synonymous with telelvision. And when someone comes up with a good thing, everyone wants a bit of it.

What we found the most amazing was that the Circle 7 is so popular that the Sarasota and Naples Florida stations used it, even though their over-the-air presence is of two UHF stations. They are so well known by thier cable placement–Cable 7 in the two local markets–they decided to make the best of a good thing and just go with the 7.

When KATU came out with the Fisher Flag 2, I mentioned that I thought it would hold its own against the Circle 7. I think KATU's new logo has the classic vibe, and it's so simple; tilt the square, and elongate and bevel the base stroke of the 2; 2 simple steps, simple brilliance.

With the prevalence of the Circle-7, you'd think that stations wouldn't want to use anything but. But we found stations who went thier own ways, with varying levels of success. These follow:

KAKM, Anchorage, AK: abstract shapes.

KBZK, Bozeman, MT, rebroadcasts Butte's KXLF channel 4's content as well as its logo:

KHQA, serving Quincy IL and Hannibal MO, go the script route with a red and blue spice:

KNSD, San Diego, is another Cable 7/Over the air something else (39 in this case) that goes by its cable ID–but eve though it doesn't do the Circle 7 it does want you to identify it with Channel 7:

KOAM, Joplin, MO has a design that looks more Texan than Show-Me:

...but it does make us smile, because irrespective of some present geopolitical trends, we know in our heart there's nothing wrong with a little patriotism (we just have some ... well, issues to work through).

KOSA, Midland-Odessa TX, takes the same script-7 tack that KHQA does–and is quite subdued for a Texas station. Must be the Mandate at work:

KPLC, Lake Charles LA, is one of those un-Circle 7's–they have the circle, they have the 7, but they don't look designed together like the classic Circle 7 does. Kissin' cousins, maybe–but not quite the classic design:

A notable (and working) bit of design at work is the way the white zone behind the KPLC letters is based on the point-size for the 7, handily tying the whole image together–kind of like The Dude's rug.

And here's KTBC, Austin TX, which has that basic, uninspired, git'r'done FOX house style:

KTVB, Boise, has an interesting approach to the variant Circle 7:

Here, light and shadow give solidity and depth to the logo. What got my attention was to an earlier logo which is identical to my hometown KGW's logo, save for the variant Circle 7, down to the placement of the peacock:

KUED, Channel 7, is Salt Lake's PBS; notable because it features its channel number, notable because of the delightful way it looks like a ribbon that just happened to be laid down that way:

The big circle is more of a recapitulation of the PBS logo than it is an enclosing element for the 7, though it fulfills that function as well.

KWWL, Waterloo IA, has a variant C7 that is pleasing in its use of color and texture, of the peacock in a different place, and I just enjoy that assertive bold 7:

WDAM serves Southeastern Mississippi with an effective variant C7 (and the more we look at it, resembles KWWL's):

WDBJ, Roanoke VA, has an Applesque-Aquaesque look to it, and a treatment of the 7 which is as unexpected as it is ineffable:

WHIO, Channel 7, Dayton, with a variant C7 which should probably been filed up with the rest of the Circle 7's, now that we take another look at it (and also has a cool call sign):

WITN serves northeastern North Carolina, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, even though it isn't (as well as hides its 7 away):

Another variant C7 that I was probably too exclusive with (you be the judge): WJHG, Panama City, Florida:

And another variant C7, notable for all its circle-7-ness and straight strokes on the seven: WKBW, Buffalo NY:

WMAK, Knoxville's independent station, takes the extreme minimalist approach with the variant C7 (designing the call sign type to match the subtle yet bold numeral):

Minneapolis-St Paul's WPBN rebroadcasts on WTOM 4 elsewhere in Minnesota–and combines the two into a joint-custody arrangement with the Peacock:

Wausau, WI's cleverly-called WSAW takes the variant C7 to the limit with this dynamic display (do you folks remember those Wausau Insurance commercials? I do, especially the one with the hotel clerk who said "Woresore"-even when corrected):

WSPA, Spartanburg, SC, takes an approach we've seen before (including being on our side. We're getting a rash there, probably from exposure to microwaves):

WTRF, Wheeling WVA/Steubenville OH, has a square-shouldered Schwarzeneggeresque 7 which works pretty, using a corner of the 7 to help define part of the mark:

WWNY, Carthage NY, has a racing-stripe variant C7:

Before we go out with a song, we found two other 7's which were intriguing, which are exterior to the US. This one, Channel 7, belongs to a Christian ministry website and radion station operating out of Namibia, Africa. The graphic treatment of the 7 is delightful, but the real joy is in the way the Afrikaans word kanaal and the English channel combine in the logo. Points for cleverness here:

And the Seven Network, in Australia. Oz has three national commercial networks known simple by a digital name inspired by the channel they first broadcast on: Seven, Nine, and Ten. Here's the Seven Network, saying a lot with very little indeed:

We'll see you on the eights. Meanwhile, take it away, baker man:

Seven straws!?!?!?

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Ben said...

WHIO seems to mirror KIRO 7. I wonder if their 7 has had the longevity of former owner Bonneville's blue 5.

KUED's logo is nice, I'd never thought too much about their 7 before. :-)

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Good point about the KIRO 7, Ben. Though, now that I look at it, it seems to blend both: there's the curve on the down-stroke of the 7, making it look more like a classic Circle-7, and the bevel on the end of the top stroke is opposite that of KIRO's. However, it joins with the circle at the bottom in just the same way, and has the same overall color impression.

Re KUED's logo; it is nice, isn't it. It's like that in-the-land-of-the-blind-the-one-eyed-man-is-king thing ... when everyone's following fashion, any unexecpected deviation is welcomed, and since everything is the same, then you don't need much. Kicking it up to the "next level" isn't hard–then you get something like that which is totally designed and when there's so much room for originality, it really stands out.

stan said...

I find it interesting that KOAM's (Joplin, MO) logo has nine stars in the blue arc above the 7.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Nice one, Stan ... I hadn't caught that.

If you can excuse a moment of snark, I was too distracted by a logo that looks like it belongs airbrushed on some custom van at a swap meet somewhere.

Sorry about that. But I feel better now that I said it. They need to dial that one back a bit.

If I was the designer and they insisted on stars in the logo, I probably would have gone with seven stars. Two reasons here; first, it matches the channel number, second: nine's just too dang many!