The Rebrand of the Decade

ITV was undergoing its first major rebrand in a decade. Graphically, the change was to be seismic, taking the visual identity from flat, static colours to a new, dynamic and endlessly morphing transparency; reflecting and refracting the multi-coloured content upon which ITV has been built

Our challenge was to find an equally new and engaging way to build a sound for the brand, whilst solving scale and timing requirements to create more than 100 individual idents for ITV and its 4 sub-brands over a 6 week period - the biggest channel branding exercise in anyone’s memory.


We set about the task by examining the sonic heritage of the brand. We listened to every sonic identity that ITV had employed back to its inception in the 1950s. We examined why some of the sounds had endured, why some had faded and what each of them had to say about the channel throughout its history.

The key finding from our work was that the most enduring identities were heavily melodic. Through consumer research, we discovered that the best of these, in terms of memorability and positive associations, were the ones that had long melodies, i.e. melodic phrases of greater than 12 notes.

In parallel with this process, we examined the competitive landscape of channel branding in the UK and further afield. We discovered a mega-trend of channel branding that was heavily influenced by sound design and ambient music. Speaking with established practitioners in channel branding, we established that sound design provided easy flexibility for identity designers. Though this was a compelling argument against the use of melody, it equally created an opportunity for ITV to create a new identity in the relatively clear space of melodic channel branding (assuming we could overcome the inherent complexities).


Focusing upon long-form melodies, we set about creating pieces of music that could change, morph, be cut, sliced and diced but would still retain their inherent musical shape. Reference was made to classic visual branding where only fragments may be visible but where the whole may still be recognised (take a look at a fraction of a Coke bottle and you’ll understand what that means).

We developed what we believed could be ‘classic’ melodies and then set up to demonstrate exactly how they could be used flexibly. That meant taking small melodic fragments of the whole and then arranging them using different instrumentation to sound completely different each time. From rock to pop to ambient and classical. We showed the ITV team how melody itself creates flexibility. Once we had done this (and consequently been awarded the business!) we set about the task in hand; to create more than 100 different versions of the melody in a short period of time, within a constrained budget.


On time, on budget, on brand. The ITV sonic identity went live as planned with variants ranging from baroque to thrash metal. Through collaborations with a globally dispersed group of producers, we were able to scale and deliver diversity, whilst retaining the essential quality of the melody via our in-house producers. After 3 years, the work is still fresh and interesting, delivering on CORD’s promise to ITV that the melodic approach would be timeless.

With nearly 200 idents now having been created, ITV has a flexible and emotionally resonant identity that will continue to carry the brand through its many successes for years to come.