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NBC Logo/Imagery Analysis [Informal]

Updated on June 26, 2013

NBC ID's Through The Decades


In the modern airwaves 'race' for network pace-setting is lead and defined by...

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In analyzing the classic image/branding of what NBC has done to draw in consumer awareness, the broadcast network, historically, seeks to first honor its brand above all, and not necessarily its programming. NBC's 'mission' has always been the on-going continuance of the NBC brand. Competing broadcast networks CBS and ABC make entertainment programming the priority; NBC does not. Packaging of the NBC 'image' trumps all.

NBC's strategy is as artful as it is Darwinian; as such the National Broadcasting machine maintains its savvy poker face in television's historically highest-stakes game of draw. The network's architecture is more akin to an "if you build it they will come" mentality, focused more upon "constructing a mansion," but furnishing it later.

Image and association have always been the network's calling cards: The musical tri-tone chimes, the vibrant colors of the peacock, most notably. In promoting the NBC brand itself ahead of everything else, including programming, NBC 's message seems to be in placing importance on audio responsive association (Pavolv) as well as vibrant color associations.

  • Early 1960s NBC Basic/Standard Broadcast ID
    -For analysis sake, let's use this as a sort of 'core baseline' to establish NBC 's branding. NBC has had a few iconic 'looks' and 'hooks': In the early days when TV was in broadcast infancy, NBC (as did all networks) saw early the importance of associating 'technology and viewing pleasure' with their brand.
    • THE 'SET-UP':
      The closest I can determine as being a 'set up' was the rigid placement of when NBC would brand themselves. Sort of like how we now today know almost down to the second when the Bad Robot will appear in any of J.J. Abram's productions. NBC did the same thing, from early on. Their musical tri-tones, and later their peacock, were inserted like clock-work either prior to a one-second black screen, or one second after credits ended. Later, circa 1960, the SET-UP (from what I am seeing in web-researching) became a one-second musical 'shimmer' of violins before the peacock spread its feathers to reveal its palate of colors on display.
    • HOOK:
      In the black and white days, dating back to 1936, the 'hook' was actually the classic major 6th tritone (G-E-C) from the xylophone, although it almost always accompanied their traditional 'blocky' style ID call letters. The images most commonly associated with NBC are the musical tritones, and later on the flamboyantly colorful peacock. NBC's peacock is still in use today but in a constant state of transformation it seems. Also, sometime around the mid-1990s, possibly 2000's (still researching, having trouble identifying exactly when) the classic musical tritone hook was phased out, in exchange for the rapidly changing and advancing fast-moving flash imagery that the internet provides today. Watch the stunning 2011-2012 NBC brand image montage in the list below.
      Is the collective sigh of relief that just implies "whew! I get this... I remember this.... This is comfortable." NBC has always had a love affair with auditory and visual association in presenting their broad logo and impressions.
    • MUSIC:
      As noted, was the classic Major sixth interval tri-tone, initially introduced as early as 1936 and continuing up through circa 1987-1994 when it appears to have died it's death along with advancing technology.

This could be an analysis that goes on forever and, although traditionally the "last place" network, NBC personally I believe does this by choice. In a race of basically 3 (4 if PBS is counted), the network has traditionally always been a very liberal-minded network, recognizing that in a race so 'short' with so few contenders, there really is no race at all to be had.

This historically progressive mindset has sort of freed NBC and allowed them to sit back and "embrace third place" (Lorne Michaels; 1997).


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