CBS rethinks iconic eye in new branding strategy
CBS’ iconic eye is getting a facelift. The broadcast giant unveiled new branding on Thursday as it looks to pivot its identity from a traditional broadcaster to a multiplatform brand.
The goal is to unify and differentiate the CBS brand in an increasingly crowded media landscape, on the heels of the launch of the streaming platform Paramount+ from its parent company ViacomCBS.
For years CBS has used variations of its eye logo across its entertainment, news and sports properties, with Mike Benson, president and chief marketing officer, calling it “logo soup.” With the launch of Paramount+, coupled with the sheer amount of content vying for consumers’ attention, Benson says it was the right time to create consistency and clarity across the company.
The iconic eye logo will remain central to CBS’ new branding, but will be deconstructed and animated to create a more modernized feel, Benson says.
Getting recognition for its original programming—whether watched on its owned-and-operated platforms or elsewhere—is also an important part of the initiative.
“We have all these big shows but we weren’t getting credit for most any of them,” says Benson. “A lot of audiences look at us like a utility, like the gas company, the pipeline that brings the shows they love, but they don’t attribute those shows to CBS, they attribute them to the wrong place or don’t know or care.”
Broadcasters have long focused their attention on marketing individual programs, but Benson says Netflix and HBO have proved it’s not just about the shows but the brand.
“We want people to know ‘60 Minutes’ is a CBS news program,” he says.
Moving forward, CBS will look to link all of its content back to the brand, no matter where it travels, with title art tagging programming as “CBS Original,” “CBS News,” “CBS Sports” or “CBS Presents.”
“By locking attribution up with title art we cement the link between content and creator and drive equity back to CBS,” Benson says.
When shows “Evil” and “Unicorn” stream on Netflix, for example, they will have the CBS branding attached to the front end.
CBS will also lean into audio branding. The company went back into its archives of all the music the network has ever done, from branding to theme sounds and pulled out five notes from the old CBS News theme. CBS will integrate the notes the way Netflix and Intel have done. For example, these five notes will be integrated into the opening of shows. They also currently appear before the start of “Evil” and “Unicorn” when watching on Netflix.
This is yet another way for CBS to articulate its brand in a way that is consistent and recognizable at every touchpoint, whether on its own platforms or elsewhere, Benson says.
Many brands are evaluating their audio strategy as devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home gain in popularity.
CBS’ audio strategy also includes bringing back the voiceover “This is CBS,” which was used for decades in the company’s radio and TV broadcasts.
CBS is also revamping its consumer messaging to be more grounded, friendly and down to earth. These are not descriptions that would have been used to describe the Tiffany network under its former leader Leslie Moonves. CBS has always been eager to tout its slogan as “America’s most watched network.” While the company will continue to use that phrasing when speaking to the ad marketplace and in other b-to-b scenarios, when speaking to consumers it will no longer go out “pounding our chest saying how big we are,” Benson says. “Consumers want to feel they are speaking to someone more friendly and inviting.”
The strategy and execution, which were developed with agency Gretel, will begin debuting on the network this week in advance of the new fall season. Viewers can expect to see the new branding rolled out across CBS News leading up to the 2020 election, and for CBS Sports leading up to the broadcast of Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7. Similar iterations are being developed for CBS Television Stations and CBS Television Distribution.
As part of the new branding, CBS Television Studios has been renamed CBS Studios.