In a world now saturated with content, it’s hard to imagine the impact that Channel 4 had on British culture when it launched in 1982. From the outset, the public service broadcaster sought to provide an alternative to the existing options offered by the BBC and ITV. This was apparent both in its programming but also the boldness of its logo, which was created by broadcast design legend Martin Lambie-Nairn.
“The fact that it’s got sharp edges and points, it’s like having sharp elbows, and I think there’s something quite Channel 4 about that. It’s always felt really emblematic of what the channel stands for,” says Lynsey Atkin, ECD of 4creative, Channel 4’s in-house creative agency. While the logo has been through various iterations over the years, the essence of Lambie-Nairn’s original design has largely endured. The last update was in 2015, when then heads of 4creative Chris Bovill and John Allison decided to break it up into its constituent parts.
The TV landscape has changed dramatically since then, as the challenges faced by traditional broadcasters amid the ever-expanding world of streaming have been laid bare. But it’s not just competition from streaming giants that Channel 4 has to contend with; the nature of content in general is becoming increasingly platform-agnostic. “Way back when you used to press a button that said 4 on your remote, and now Channel 4 lives on linear and streaming, it is also on Netflix and BritBox and Amazon, on our social channels, and our digital commissions for YouTube,” says Atkin.