Continuing my research for my online children’s channel I looked to one of the most successful children’s networks in television – Nickelodeon. You can’t quite picture flicking through the kids channels without seeing their trademark tangerine (and 13,000 other colours) thrown in your face. Interestingly though, the channel struggled for years to find this now looming voice in the children’s entertainment landscape.
Originally the channel was called Pinwheel, but changed its name in 1979 to what we know today, keeping the same type treatment and logo style as Pinwheel.
Something clearly wasn’t working though. The network were the least watched by the late 80s. Dead bottom. Comepletely unwatchable. Trash.
Anyway, Fred Siebert, a branding legend who helped develop the original MTV identity wrote about his part in working on Nickelodeon. One interesting rule he devised was:
Ban the word “FUN” from the Nickelodeon vocabulary. Every network promo told the kids that Nickelodeon was fun. It wasn’t. We thought it was better to be “fun” than say “fun.”
It seems so obvious, but telling kids something is fun just doesn’t work. You actually have to have fun, rather than getting a room full of chin-strokers postulating about the definition of fun and how to concieve it. The resulting identity had an appropriately spontatneous and momentous feeling to it, something that had movement built into the visuals.
Years later we have the newest rebrand, colourfully illustrated by Argentina-based agency Ronda. Some of the newst idents are below and they are… well, pretty damn fun still!
You can see the influence that successes like Spongebob Squarepants have had on the personality of the network. Fred Siebert dislikes the rebrand, asking why a children’s channel would name themselves after a builder. But the network had to change, and building the logo from crazy characters definitely creates a sense of playfulness which helps. Cus kids play. Don’t they?
Listening to: Midnight City by M83