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We’re all familiar with logos, symbols and brand identities but what exactly is an ident? For those not familiar with the term, here is a quick definition courtesy of Wikipedia.

Station identification (ident or channel ID) is the practice of radio or television stations or networks identifying themselves on air, typically by means of a call sign or brand name (sometimes known, particularly in the United States, as a “sounder” or “stinger”, more generally as a station or network ID). This may be to satisfy requirements of licensing authorities, a form of branding or a combination of both. As such it is closely related to production logos used in television and cinema, alike.

In short, they are a means of helping viewers to identity the channel they are currently watching. Without them, station logos would have little on screen presence other than being a small image in the corner of the screen, and so idents are crucial to TV stations. Whilst growing up, I would see the idents for popular UK channels such as BBC Two and Channel 4 every Saturday morning, right before my favourite cartoons were about to start, so I knew I had the right channel. What I love most about idents is that they bring logos to life, often in quirky animated forms, which helps to further cement an affinity or a preference with any chosen channel.

Back in those days (late 80s to early 90s) there were only four channels here in the UK. Now, of course, there are hundreds and we are lucky enough to be able to tune into stations from all over the world via satellite television. Whether that is a good or bad thing is for you to decide. I recently thought it would be a good idea to have a look back at some of the idents from my favourite channels. Watching them back has made me realise just how important and powerful they are from a branding perspective. Even the music used can instantly remind our senses of a particular moment in time for any given channel, which reminds me that branding isn’t just a visual experience.

I came across a great site that showcases over 3000 archived idents at – which is worth a visit if you are interested in logo or motion design in any way. I’ve compiled some videos below that show the history and progression of some of the idents for the most popular TV channels in the world. It’s quite scary to see how much design and technology has evolved, though some of the early ones are interesting and beautiful in their own right. These days, some of them have effects on par with short films from  Hollywood. There are hundreds more for you to watch via IdentChannel on Youtube

BBC ONE (United Kingdom)

BBC TWO (United Kingdom)

Channel 4 (United Kingdom)

abc (United States)

CNN (United States)

NBC (united States)

PBS (United States)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Australia)

Seven Network (Australia)

Canadian Television (Canada)



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