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BBC Digital Services: Branding Changes

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Seetha Kumar Seetha Kumar | 13:11 UK time, Monday, 1 December 2008

It is a few months since I wrote my last blog post and it's been an incredibly busy time.

I now have a different job as Controller BBC Online which briefly means I am the service's publisher.

Since I have been here (nearly three months), it has been exciting, vibrant, stimulating and challenging.

Over the last so many years, I have moved around the organisation and taken on a raft of interesting projects. I know that the first few months are often the most taxing - if only because you are running fast just to catch up. And in this world you have to be on your toes as this is a particularly dynamic space.

Some things though always hold true.

Audiences inspire and drive us and quality is a living value. We need to be as ambitious as possible so that those who come to BBC Online leave thinking 'Ah that is time well spent'

Quality is a big theme for me and I will probably ruminate on that topic again and again.

Another important theme is how we ensure that everyone can access the programmes, services and products we create. Accessibility should not be an optional extra.

I thought though I'd use my first post in my new role to tell you about a few important changes in the way we're going to be describing BBC digital services.

bbchpbannerleftonly.jpgWe've adopted a new approach to multiplatform branding to make things simple for you. The aim is to get a consistent way of referring to our services which will be used both verbally and visually by the BBC.

All the BBC's digital services will now be branded as BBC followed by one of the following depending on which platform is selected:

For bbc.co.uk, it's "Online"

For the BBC's mobile services, just "Mobile"

So this Saturday if you are watching one of my must watch shows 'Strictly Come Dancing' the presenter may say "for exclusive behind the scenes action from the Strictly set, go online now." and show the URL on screen. Enjoy.

Seetha Kumar is Controller, BBC Online.


  • Comment number 1.

    Seetha: I still can't see why you can't lever the 30+ year BBC sub-brand of "Ceefax" for digital TV.

    Why not "iCeefax" for digital TV - it does about the same and even has the same page numbers!

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I do enjoy the cyclical nature of the BBC's management decisions. This is another brilliant example - it was not that long ago that bbc.co.uk was called BBC Online:

    BBC Online - BBCi - bbc.co.uk - BBC Online.

    In the process I'm sure the bigger picture is that it matters very little to people who use the service, just those within the organisation looking for ways to spend their allocated budget.

    That said, I excitedly look forward to the next 'BBC Online' renaming exercise in a few years time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Companies seem to ignore the single largest online branding/advertising venue available: their own regular external emails. Why not use these emails to market the senders company?

    You have a website.
    You send emails.

    Why not multiply your sales-staff by “wrapping” the regular email in an interactive letterhead?

    No other marketing or advertising medium is as targeted as an email between people that know each other (as opposed to mass emails). These emails are always read and typically kept.

  • Comment number 5.

    I support the BBC and enjoy their website, but honestly, does this matter to anyone except the marketing team at the BBC? I certainly wouldn't notice the difference on Strictly Come Dancing (if I watched it)...

  • Comment number 6.

    eitrem wrote:

    Why not multiply your sales-staff by ?wrapping? the regular email in an interactive letterhead?


    Oh, no, no, no, no!

    Those of us who are security concious and have our email clients properly set to not open images etc automatically on emails would strike!

    Just nice, fast, easy to read, plain text please!


    On branding, one of the biggest mistakes the BBC has made over the years is playing round the edges with their Branding.

    You continuously "split" your brand which is one of the biggest marketing No-nos I can think of.

    So, making it all part of the normal BBC is the correct thing to do, at last. The world of online information should no longer be treated as some exciting new toy. When the BBC starts a new online service, they often forget they are only replicating what has been done many years before by others and therefore is nothing new. In fact, the BBC tends to be behind the times.

    Your biggest remaining problem is formatting.

    When the BBC site was first started, you were heavily criticised by industry experts for not templating correctly. The result was that the site was terribly narrow on the average monitor and the stories hard to read. What kept people coming back was the reputation of BBC News rather than nice site design.

    Unfortunately, this templating issue was roundly dismissed by management, and now you have different parts of the site, and even different news stories all appearing in different shapes and sizes.

    If you are trying to work towards consistent branding, making the way the site operates consistent is vital.

    It should be dead easy, since the whole lot it in a database. But for some reason, the way your site has been written over the years has been extremely over engineered.

  • Comment number 7.

    The thing is the whole site isn't in a database, much of it is static pages, I believe. The BBC have strong UI guidelines that they're following, and I think makes the new-style sites look much better.

  • Comment number 8.

    When I worked at the BBC a few years ago we went through this whole thing before. As someone above pointed out it was:

    BBC Online > BBCi > bbc.co.uk and now we're full circle back at 'online'.

    I hated BBCi and bbc.co.uk was a nightmare from start to finish, and one that cost the BBC a massive amount of money to sort out.

    If anyone is interested, the BBC decided that saying www.bbc.co.uk was too much, so it wanted to say bbc.co.uk in idents. the problem was, that the BBC servers distribute load across a number of different servers in different geographical locations. Removing the WWW at the time would force you onto just one server. Which, if a lot of people did it, would be a big problem.

    So they fixed that, and two years later the 'bbc.co.uk' name has been dropped in favour of saying 'online'. It's absurd.

    Do decisions like this get taken in the same way as when a controller leaves a TV channel? Normally, to assert their unique attitude they cancel a bunch of shows, and commission some more expensive idents.

    Seriously, BBC Online would have been fine from the start, but saying "it's on our website" is really just as good. It's not like people don't know how to find it.

  • Comment number 9.

    I find, particularly on radio, there is a tendency for shows to give out the station's web address rather than their own. If they're talking about their show's site, then they should give their show's site's address. For example, at the moment they say something like "visit our website at bbc.co.uk/radio2 and follow the links from there", rather than the more succinct "visit our website at bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/bruce" (it would be even nicer if the '/shows' wasn't needed - what's on radio2 that isn't a show? I haven't heard many continuity announcers recently)

    To be honest, I dont see why we need to constantly be given website addresses anyway. In a modern browser, typing "bbc ken bruce" into the address bar will get you to the relevant page straight away.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hey... isn't that owl on your BBC Internet Blog banner the vary same owl that used to be on the BBC's "Computer Programme" in the 80's? And possibly on the BBC Micro as well?
    Nice to see you dusting off and re-using 20-year old parts of your brand assets :-) Like the BBC1 clock from as long ago which now has a new home on the bbc.co.uk homepage.

  • Comment number 11.

    I liked readin your commitment to Accessibility. However the BBC Online pages don't give ready access to lists of SL and AD programes, unlije the BBC Wordwid's Radio Times website.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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