CBS is rolling out a major revamp and consolidation of its brand identity across its various platforms and divisions in an effort to retain its standing in a rapidly evolving, streaming-obsessed media landscape.
The initiative, which got under way before the ViacomCBS merger closed last December, will change logos, promos and marketing materials for shows and business units across the board. A more unified look will draw on the 91-year-old company’s heritage, preserving its “eye” logo, for example, while adding some newer elements.
A five-tone audio signature will be added as an accompaniment to the voiceover, “This is CBS,” along with animation at the top of each programming hour on the main broadcast network.
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The overhaul was spearheaded by Mike Benson with assistance from outside agency Gretel. Benson joined CBS last year as president and chief marketing officer after previous executive stints at Amazon Studios and Time Warner.
“CBS has long been one of the most unifying brands in media, bringing people together from all walks of life. Vibrant, trusted, inviting, inclusive – a connector with heart. We needed to make that clearer and more consistent at every consumer touchpoint,” Benson said in the official announcement. “We are defining every aspect of the CBS brand to make it more meaningful for existing and new consumers, regardless of where they encounter the brand.”
The updated brand identity for entertainment programming debuted last Sunday and will continue rolling out through the fall.
In an interview with Deadline, Benson said the upcoming rebrand of CBS All Access to Paramount+ makes the consolidation and strengthening of the CBS brand even more vital. The company’s studio is producing dozens of shows for various platforms and having the audio signature and new look attached will help CBS get recognition in a crowded environment.
“I wanted to create a deeper emotional connection to the brand and create that experience so it works across every single customer touchpoint,” he said. The flagship broadcast network is just one of an array of places where viewers encounter CBS — the company is a major producer of content traveling across dozens of platforms. Over time, the rise of sports, news, digital and other units had created “logo soup at the company,” Benson said. The three pillars in the new scheme will be CBS, CBS News and CBS Sports.
“We’re competing for people’s time,” Benson said, so the question the branding effort is trying to respond to is: “If someone wants to choose to spend time between us or Facebook, what can we offer that’s going to be of the same or more value as someone else?”
Research conducted by CBS yielded some startling results. “CBS is kind of like the gas company,” many survey respondents said, according to Benson. “It’s a pipeline that brings in something important to my house, so I get it. But I don’t really think about it that much.”
Content on CBS and CBS-owned platforms will be tagged with “CBS Original”, “CBS News”, “CBS Sports”, or “CBS Presents.” An example: “CBS Presents The 56th Academy of Country Music Awards.” Content produced by CBS Studios will also include “A CBS Studios Production” and CBS Studios branded marks.
One staple of on-air promotion on the CBS broadcast network that will get less emphasis is bragging about ratings — a distinct change of tone for a network that has long advertised itself as the “most-watched network in America.” Younger audiences indicate “‘I don’t really care that you’re No. 1,'” Benson said. “‘I want you to feel like you’re grounded and committed to serving me some really great content. Invite me in rather than yelling at me.'”
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