MTV logo changes, stays same

After 29 years, MTV unveils a logo ‘refresh’ – like many of its viewers, the network has become a little wider and a little fatter

After 29 years, MTV unveils a logo ‘refresh’ – like many of its viewers, the network has become a little wider and a little fatter

There’s nothing terribly revolutionary about MTV’s new logo – described aptly by the network as a ‘refresh’ rather than a redesign. But what it does do differently is join the ever-growing ranks of the ‘logo-as-receptacle-for-imagery’ crowd.

The wider, more rectilinear space within MTV’s new mark (which was created in-house) is tailor-made for housing images from its output, as shown here.

It’s a trend that appears to be gaining more and more traction with identity designers and their clients. Wolff Olins has led the way, with identity projects for the London Olympics

 

 

New York’s tourism and marketing body, NYC & Company

 

 

And, more recently, AOL (sorry, Aol.) although, in this case, the mark sits on top of the imagery

 

But we have also seen it used by Pentagram for the Museum of Art and Design in New York

 

 

And, given a graphic, rather than photographic, application by Landor for the City of Melbourne

 

In a way, however, MTV can claim to have started the whole ‘flexible identity’ thing. When the original logo was created by Manhattan Design in 1981, no corporate colour guidelines were given. Instead (as one of the designers Frank Olinsky explains, here) both the colour and the materials in which the logo was rendered would be changed with each application, making it as supposedly eclectic as the music played on the channel.

As a result, the MTV logo appeared in a myriad of forms – everything from fur to frozen ice, dripping paint to dripping blood.

The difference these days, reflecting the new realities of the channel, is that the space in the new logo will be used more to push its programming and its endless procession of reality TV micro-celebrities than as a canvas for artists, and animators as it once was. Perhaps as further recognition of its changed positioning, it has also dropped the words ‘music television’.

  • Chris

    NYC FTW

  • Mel

    It looks like its been cropped by accident….

  • Nick Hill

    It’s not actually wider, they’ve just chopped its legs off. Seems to make good sense, and is something that BBC2 and Channel 4 have been doing for a couple of years now. Logos need to be increasingly flexible, and an application like this (which would be a big no-no in traditional branding guidelines) is a good way to help that goal

  • MAN

    oh for poo’s sake another one?! seriously, that can’t even be deemed a refresh anymore than it can be deemed a dumb-down!! They’ve basically stripped it of all the character and personality that made MTV great all those years ago, before it sold out to constantly giving birth the reality tv shows – instead of informing and enriching youth with culture they’re now euthanising them with static rubbish – just like their revised logo. //// And on the topic of placing images inside indentities, the whole point of a logo people is that it is distinctive from any other logo – hence it being called an INDENTITY!!! The only sophisticated execution of this image inside identity is the beautiful branding for the city of Melbourne. //// Such a shame we’re seeing more and more poo come out of the “upper echelons” of the industry….

  • http://www.cell18.in zubin paul driver

    Interesting piece. I think the MTV logo is also very TV friendly…and thats why the refresh exercise pushes this further. Logos have become communication in themselves…the logo in isolation is expected to communicate on its own, rather than just be a prop placed at the side of a message.

  • http://www.somethingandsomethingelse.com James Cotton

    I can understand why they’ve done it, it looks alright, but the original MTV logo and its many various applications and appearances became so iconic! I’m sure it will be remembered in history of music design like the Rolling Stones Lips etc. In the long run with all the retro graphic and fashion style revivals, surely it would have been ‘cooler’ to stick with the unique classic rather than just become like everything else.

  • http://www.mimeartist.com mimeArtist

    Interesting how Music has no legs on the channel either these days

  • http://www.firebubble.co.uk Firebubble

    Cool post. I also think that the new design look alright, but I agree that the previous design was very iconic. I do prefer the old design, for a refresh I probably would of just removed the “Music Television” text from the bottom.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.rubbercheese.com waggit

    for where the logo will be used (mainly tv) i think the logo “refresh” really works. i like the fact they havent completely changed it either. its an icon, and still is!

  • http://www.adgoodness.com freddy

    MTV has changed so much over the years, and should probably just call itself reality tv (RTV) since it doesn’t even show music videos anymore.

  • http://www.instructgraphics.co.uk John Instruct

    I thought UE did the brand ‘refresh’ last year??

    http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2009/june/mtvs-brand-new-look

  • Gem

    I get the refresh concept but I can’t understand why they chopped off the bottom like that, it looks like an accident

  • Sir Mary

    Anyone who has had to work with the MTV logo vector artwork will be aware that it was made by someone who didn’t understand the new fangled computer thingy. So that’s been sorted, now they just need someone who understands the cropping tool…

  • Guy Baggs

    Have they teamed up with 4 creative? I bet they do their i-dents the same. Why is it the most exciting genre of design (TV) can only copy all other t.v. channel branding????? Come on lets start being original. This is why we became designers. To answer briefs individually and create new and exciting ways to communicate. PUSH IT………!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry long day ;0)

  • k-lab

    mtv have done the image in the logo thing for years… although this one seems to allow more space for it.
    what’s weird is the 3d at the top and the straight cut at the bottom, just looks wrong and cropped like people have already said…

  • Banoffee

    They’ve cropped it, that’s all. It works. Get over it.

  • Sam

    I’m not sure about their decision to draw the feet of the M in 3D parallel with the horizon. I think that’s what’s making it look like it’s been cropped rather than re-proportioned.

  • http://www.chrishannah.co.uk/chad Chad’s Eye View

    They should have consider dropping the ‘M’ as the network has barely anything to do with music anymore. Mind you, TAFRTV (Trashy American Faux-Reality Television) is a bit of a mouthful.

  • MR HATE

    You will also notice it has lost it’s perspective! The logo that is.

    It’s a refresh but it doesn’t smell fresher.

  • MLA

    2012 and NYC are proving to be the new benchmarks in identity design and as a consequence the MTV update looks conservative and afraid. I wonder if there were some exciting pitches that got denounced by the board for destroying brand heritage/recognition. Empty-vee.

    Sagmeister developed a thoughtful image housing approach with Casa da Música.
    http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/the_17_sides_of_a_cultural_ide.php

  • http://www.glennkavanagh.co.uk/ Glenn K

    Interesting.

    From my perspective they’ve made a mistake by jettisoning something genuinely iconic for something much more bland and awkward looking.

    Can’t help but feel the harsh cropping at the feet of the new identity was a result of wanting a flat horizontal base – having erased the ‘MUSIC TELEVISION’ type – rather than trying to convey something specific in terms of design.

    As for getting rid of the ‘MUSIC TELEVISION’ type, maybe it’s an effort to stop reinforcing the old fashioned origins of their ever expanding brand, although that’s kind of an impossible task given the brand name.

    Bit of shame, i’d have preferred something more bold rather than this whimper.

  • http://www.iamelliot.com Elliot Ross

    they’ve had the same CTRL+T problem the iPad dev team had

  • stu

    i cant believe its dropped ‘music television’ and that its now a super celeb show churner instead of a music vid god – its us wallopers watching wallopers like kelly osbourne… YUCK x100. I use YouTube and get straight to the video i like.

  • http://www.andrew-millar.com Andrew Millar

    Works well with the program shots pasted in, I imagine it looking pretty cool filling up television screens, making very versatile… consequently on the other hand its hardly a ‘redesign’ is it… Echoes of the KFC ‘re’-brand comes to mind…

  • http://www.montoyastudios.com Bob

    It gives the surface of the logo more space for imagery. Makes a relevant statement. Moving forward without losing its identity.

  • http://www.kennmunk.com kenn Munk

    I love the new Live Trace look on the tv-bit. it is the true mark of the craftsman when you can see the traces of his tools.

    Cropping the M is also a highly effective way to MAKE MY LOGO BIGGER! without it taking up more space.

    I know pride is a sin and all that, but it’d be nice to see it taken in work sometimes, but then it might not be pride that’s missing, it might be skills.

  • http://www.orbitlesser.com Orbit Lesser

    Interesting how the chopped off legs actually makes it look like its sinking into a quagmire, which nicely reflects the brand. Personally I think too much readability has been sacrificed here in order to turn the logo into a holding device for ‘fabulous gallery of life’ imagery. I’m not sure it will clearly say MTV in use.

    Its all a bit 1996, and desperate. The original stuff from the very beginning is miles better than this.

  • http://www.studiospooky.tv Tim Spencer

    Forgive the bad choice of colours, poor selection of sample images, and hastily knocked up vector work ( I didn’t have time to do it nicely), but Isn’t it visually stronger, more readable, and also in some way a little more faithful to the original brand to remove some of the fussy confusion and just do it like this? The ‘TV’ seems to drop out completely on the re-design as opposed to being more prominent. I think it reads better if it contrasts with the background and retains the two end strokes.

    http://i.imgur.com/f5bkvl.png

    I’ll probably get sued now for copying the logo, using imagery without consent etc, so send all replies care of HMP Belmarsh.

  • http://www.youlikeplanes.com/ Ryan

    On foxtel Australia, Mtv has moved from the music classification to entertainment. I don’t like where Mtv are going but they are going there none the less.

  • dan

    @guy bags – I think you’ll find mtv has been doing idents, bugs, channel branding way before channel 4 started doing it – channel 4, e4 and most other channels used mtv as the model to design themselves on

  • http://www.workbysimon.com Simon Carr

    This is a good change. I like it because the new logo is a bit less complex and reads better at small sizes. Now, if MTV would just play music videos again.. #mtvinthe90s

  • http://www.scottis.me Scott Sullivan

    Very good very good. was the NYC the first? it’s definitely the first that I remember seeing.. none the less- I dig em all.

  • http://www.bingo.com Bingo

    I prefer the new MTV logo.

  • http://www.vh1.com Some geezer from VH1

    Zzzzzzzz…. sorry, did I miss something? No? Ok then.

  • http://www.saismo.at Patrik @saismo

    I don’t know about the new logo … it looks terribly cropped in a way…
    But I believe it works out great in an animated commercial or something..

  • http://www.fluidesign.co.uk Jonny Costello

    awkward… looks looks like an accident. And not a happy one.

  • http://www.kidvector.com KidVector

    It’s not going to set the design world alight, but it’s a much needed tidy up without deviating from the main look and feel. Not much else to say really, I certainly don’t understand all the exasperated responses to this.

  • Luca

    Nobody noticed that logo ratio has changed, exactly like TV screen ratio has changed???

    Older logo was so 4:3 and squared, new logo is so much 14:9 / 16:9 as current TV SCREENS!

  • http://kathykavan.posterous.com Kathy Kavan

    I quite like the redesign, with my business head on I can see why they’ve done it – lots easier for the channel to update with TV content and certainly the dimensions on TV will work, the losing of the text works and it does look more professional and powerful. However, I can’t help feeling a little sad at the loss of the playful nature of the logotype, whose value’s symbolized the shiny new music television channel we fell in love with in the (again fashionable) 80’s.

    My full thoughts here:
    http://kathykavan.posterous.com/love-or-hate-mtvs-refreshed-logo-mtv-logo
    (p.s. thanks to this article for some of the reference logo images)

  • matt

    yeah I was surprised nobody noticed the whole 16:9 thing , that was my first thought. Makes sense.

  • http://benneale.wordpress.com Ben Neale

    Channel 4 have been doing a similar thing as well since 2004, but I’m glad MTV have basically just cropped it without having a total brand refresh.

    It shows that MTV are just moving from 4:3 ratio to 16:9 ratio just like the televisions did. Then again did MTV really need to change?

    But maybe this refresh may make viewers see the channel in a different light and may attract more people. Apart from all that I like it!

  • http://www.badmonkeystudios.com Mark 2000

    Doesn’t look like they widened it. It just looks like they chopped half the legs off. Look how T goes off the bottom now. It looks really odd next to the original.

  • http://clickartistmediallc.blogspot.com Maurice Thompson

    I wonder if it has anything to do with hi def proportions…If I was MTV i would want my logo on the screen as big as possible…

  • Allister

    There are a lot more changes than people are giving credit for.
    1. The pitch of the center V has been made more shallow
    2. The stroke has been bumped
    3. The edges of the TV have been softened, and repositioned
    4. The lack of perspective on the bottom of the M is intentional, it pays homage to the original logo, it IS cropped, it’s not supposed to be a new wider shorter M
    5. The depth of the 3D has been altered to accommodate the thicker stroke
    6. The entire aspect ratio rocks for web and broadcast

    Total win.

  • http://kathykavan.posterous.com Kathy Kavan

    I quite like the redesign, with my business head on I can see why they’ve done it – lots easier for the channel to update with TV content and certainly the dimensions on TV will work, the losing of the text works and it does look more professional and powerful. However, I can’t help feeling a little sad at the loss of the playful nature of the logotype, whose value’s symbolized the shiny new music television channel we fell in love with in the (again fashionable) 80’s.

    My full thoughts here:
    http://kathykavan.posterous.com/love-or-hate-mtvs-refreshed-logo-mtv-logo
    (p.s. thanks to this article for some of the reference logo images)

  • http://www.tomelders.com tom elders

    It’s shit. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

  • Werner

    I’m with Matt.. it’s wider beacuse of wide screen TVs. Quite clear at first sight, isn’t it?
    I don’t like it anyway, neither the old one.

  • http://www.madebybig.com Kevin Blackburn

    The simpler shape looks much stronger, but the way imagery is used inside feels a little me too. Call me old fashioned, but I love the old idents, they somehow seem fresher and less ‘designed’ with a touch of 80’s naivety.

  • http://www.thehouselondon.com Michael Murdoch

    Did this a few years ago. Did I start the trend?

    http://www.manmakemusic.com/

  • terencep

    The term “micro-celebrity” is awesome.

  • http://rega.in kaa

    did you intentionally leave out the google doodles?
    they have been playing with their logo for quite some time

  • Daniel

    Not really demonstrating the actual channel anymore. If they’re going to put images in the logo then they should chose relevant programs the broadcast such as The Hogans and The Osbournes. When was the last time you saw a music video on MTV? Oh yeah and it looks short and fat like they cropped a little too much.

  • guppy

    re: Sir Mary
    As the graphic artist (I should say production artist) who created the several official vector versions of the MTV logo about 15 years ago, I beg to differ. That logo file was carefully constructed, thoroughly vetted, and stood the test of time until this newest version. In fact, the JPEG at the top of this page is rasterized directly from the file I created. The vector file is so beautiful you would weep.

  • http://www.sellsellblog.blogspot.com/ Vic @ Sell! Sell!

    I may be mistaken, but didn’t George Lois do the ‘logo-as-receptacle-for-imagery’ thingy with the MTV logo many years ago?

  • mat cook

    another example of shoe horn marketing spin – it looks worse – as for logo as receptacle – see bin as receptacle.

  • Lameisha

    not bad; considering everyone else is creating crap (laughs). Guess the days of giving the client what they NEED versus WANT are as gone as the good ole’ days of pure music television. Oh well, what can we say? Good job I guess … TV rotted our brains. And what’s interesting is the new “faces” of MTV/RTV are the off-spring of the music video generation. The content the network allowed on the air gave our youth a false sense of reality. Now, we’ve got more delinquent, drug addicted, uneducated and pregnant teens than ever before. Sad but painfully true. Hmm, I wander what they’ll use for the cast of Teen Mom?

  • Matt

    Much prefer the new Ident and it’s applications. The old one was looking very dated.

  • Shujoy

    YEah!? no one said the logo is actually now like a wide-screen with 16:9 ratio! The original logo was 4:3. Hence the cropped bottom. makes for a cleaner image when there is a picture behind the logo.

  • http://www.markcolangelo.com Mark

    16:9 treatment….

    *YAWN*

  • http://www.logoinn.com/ Jack

    That’s cool, I enjoyed the post.

  • http://www.woodlandsappraiser.com Jarrod

    Its good to see somethings stay the same. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • http://www.gole.com gole

    The simpler shape looks much stronger, but the way imagery is used inside feels a little me too. Call me old fashioned, but I love the old idents, they somehow seem fresher and less ‘designed’ with a touch of 80’s naivety.

  • http://www.detoxyourbodytoday.com DetoxD

    I guess they have to get rid of the “Music Television” as they now show all kind of programs and not just music videos anymore.

  • http://www.integralseo.com integral

    Personally, I like the old logo better. They did however had to make the change since they now have a greater context for advertising.

  • http://www.logler.com/mahjong_games Mahjong

    Excellent selection. See all the changes. Evolution:)

  • http://www.redbrickpm.co.uk property management

    Much prefer the new Ident and it’s applications. The old one was looking very dated.

  • http://www.mwseekingmw.com Married Women Seeking Married Women

    They should have consider dropping the ‘M’ as the network has barely anything to do with music anymore.

  • http://www.aceitedeonagra.net john

    Interesting. Personally I think too much readability has been sacrificed here in order to turn the logo into a holding device for ‘fabulous gallery of life’ imagery

  • Tomr

    I think the basic logo is the best in black and white. Other variations look good but for long run, the original is best. What about MTV London logo ? Do they shared same logo or something different ?

  • ricky

    I guess … TV rotted our brains. And what’s interesting is the new “faces” of MTV/RTV are the off-spring of the music video generation. The content the network allowed on the air gave our youth a false sense of reality. Now, we’ve seo got more delinquent, drug addicted, uneducated and pregnant teens than ever before. Sad but painfully true. Hmm, I wander what they’ll use for the cast of Teen Mom?

  • http://www.kina.fr arjel

    I think the basic logo is the best in black and white. Other variations look good but for long run, the original is best. What about MTV London logo ? Do they shared same logo or something different ?

  • http://www.shuttrblade.com/ Gerald Peake

    I think possibly there was an internal secret brief to make the ‘M’ less noticeable whilst retaining most of the original identity? In a year or so, no one will miss the passing of Music from the channel. What’s interesting, looking at your great collection of pictologos is how well the much derided London Olympics logo is standing up to the test of time, this was one design which was designed to take an image from the start, I saw it in gold and brown on a UPS van the other day and it looks sick!
    WARNING: to all marketing departments… do not attempt to do this to your companies logo in an attempt to be trendy, it will fail miserably!

  • http://somali-music.com somali music

    I want the first logo. It’s more beautiful and have creative ideas Love to have one 😛

  • http://imaidofhonorspeeches.com Maid Of Honor Speeches

    So much money is spent on logos these days! Look at the 2012 London Olympics Logo – they could have got a child to do it for free!

  • http://www.technicomsystems.com Johnwilton

    The simpler shape looks much stronger, but the way imagery is used inside feels a little me too. Call me old fashioned, but I love the old idents, they somehow seem fresher and less ‘designed’ with a touch of 80’s naivety. Thanks

  • http://lovebirdstationery.wordpress.com Bella

    They’ve basically made the original fresher. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing revolutionary with the new one, but there doesn’t need to be. GAP already proved that changing something iconic can often be a big mistake.

  • http://UNFORESEENBEAUTIES.NET Jim

    Today was a long day for me, thanks for posting this!

  • http://www.spaceandtimedesign.com/ Jeni – Brand Design Essex

    Great use of negative space in the MTV newer logo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hhgregg LogoLovr

    I really like this approach to a revamp. Some companies try to reinvent the wheel and it is detrimental to their brand and their image.(Gap for example) MTV decided to update things where needed, without destroying the image they have portrayed for years. I think it is well done and quite versatile, as is evidenced by the use of white space for specific advertising. It’s a real nice way to subtly keep the MTV logo a part of everything they do. It’s not pushy. It’s clean. Well done. Other companies should take note.

  • http://www.echofreelance.com/ freelancer

    Described aptly by the network as a ‘refresh’ rather than a redesign ,that’s why There’s nothing terribly revolutionary about MTV’s new logo .

  • http://ipad3news.net ipad 3

    Thats a nice logo. Much more better than the previous one. Liked it.

  • noÄ?ná bielizeÅ?

    I want the first logo. It’s more beautiful and have creative ideas Love to have one 😛

  • http://www.jucariisijocuri.ro/ jucarii

    I want the first logo. It’s more beautiful and have creative ideas Love to have one 😛

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  • http://www.ipad3-release.com/category/ipad-3-design-rumors/ ipad 3

    I think it is well done and quite versatile, as is evidenced by the use of white space for specific advertising. It’s a real nice way to subtly keep the MTV logo a part of everything they do. It’s not pushy. It’s clean. Well done. Other companies should take note.

  • http://www.forex-tradingstrategies.com/ Forex Trading Strategies

    great!..the presentation of the logos are more emphasized..

  • http://www.glamquotes.com/quote/girl-quotes/ Girl Quotes

    I love the new logo, it needed to change after such a long run I think! It looks very 80’s as well which I dig.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/workshop/common-home-marketing-mistakes ferry

    Refreshing is a better option as compared to redesigning because people are familiar with your logo and when you slightly change it its easy for people to recognize it but when you redesign it, it may not be as acceptable as the former one.

  • Sebastian Morgan

    This is the trend that appears to be gaining more and more traction with identity designers and their clients. Wolff Olins has led the way, with identity projects for the London Olympics
    https://www.logocrust.com/