The ITV television network in the United Kingdom began as a group of regional stations, each with their own identities. Each station used its own idents to create an individual identity.
In 1989, a first attempt to establish a national ITV corporate identity was made, which saw regional brands combined with a new national ITV brand. The attempt had only limited success: some companies never adopted the ITV branding, while many others later diluted or abandoned the ITV component as time progressed. A second attempt in 1998 was more successful, but was still rejected or significantly modified by some companies.
In 2002, a major change of appearance occurred when all ITV regions in England adopted national continuity. Regional logos vanished and regional names were mentioned only before regional programmes. Effectively this left ITV1 in England looking like a national channel with slots for regional opt-outs – like BBC One – rather than a group of independent regional broadcasters sharing programmes. The unification was consolidated in 2004 when Granada plc acquired Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. By then, the two companies had acquired all the regional Channel 3 companies in England and Wales. ITV plc later acquired Channel Television in the Channel Islands and UTV in Northern Ireland.
This article looks at the history of presentation of the ITV brand on the main ITV network. The other digital channels owned by ITV plc also adopted logos very similar to the main ITV channel but with different colour schemes and background images; these are not covered by this article.
When ITV was incepted in 1955, every regional company had its own individual logo and identity for its own use and identification within the network. The name "ITV" was rarely used on air and had no associated broadcast logo.
From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) regulator used a matching pair of logos for ITV and ILR (Independent Local Radio), but these appear to have been used in print only.
From 1981, a generic, 'blocky-looking' logo was used infrequently throughout the 1980s, often in a rainbow colouration for promos produced by the "Big Five" franchises (Thames Television, London Weekend Television, Granada Television, Yorkshire Television and ATV/Central Independent Television), as well as holding slides used by some of the regions and Channel 4 (for cross-promotion purposes), but it was never widely used as the centrepiece of an identity.
A new generic ITV logo was introduced on 1 September 1989 and accompanied a first-time, national on-air identity designed by English Markell Pockett with music by Lord David Dundas. The logo was the centre of a whole branding package; there was a national logo and regional logos for all of the ITV franchises. Each franchise had a distinctive portion of their logo included into the V of the ITV logo. The ident was generally formed by beginning with the franchisee's logo, then going into a sliding sequence featuring an arctic tern, a couple in period dress, Big Ben, an athlete, and a pair of dancers before the regional ITV logo is reformed. Along with this, each franchise received a regional clock, trailer style, network font, and break bumpers.
However, their new look did not go as the designers intended:
Their look was dropped at various times depending on the region:
On 5 October 1998, the ITV logo was changed to a lower-cased blue and yellow affair. This was in line with the fact that with the uppercased ITV logo used previously, the viewer perception of ITV was a high-brow stuffy channel, it was not aimed at younger audiences. ITV changed the logo to reverse the younger audience's perceptions.
On 8 November 1999, the next generic look was launched, designed by English and Pockett with music by Lord David Dundas, both of whom were involved with the last look. The main theme of the look was the ITV slogan of 'TV from the heart'. There were three variations of the ident:
The lines and static idents could also feature a spinning hearts background that was tinted brown that was used during Daytime schedules. The look was accompanied by a clock superimposed on a spinning hearts background, as well as promotions provided by ITV's Network Promotions Unit. A heartbreak bumper was also provided. Upon launch and over time, some changes were made to the look:
As with the last look, not all of the companies adopted it:
Once again like the last look, it was dropped at different times:
On Monday 28 October 2002, a new idents package was rolled out across the regions using the central theme of a celebrity posing 'backstage'. There would be a clip of the celebrity chilling out when they were supposedly off-screen. The 'ITV1' logo had been softened with smoother edges by this point and it would animate on in the bottom right-hand corner, being formed from 3 aligned blue blocks and one yellow block. This package also coincided with the centralisation of continuity from the English, Isle of Man and Scottish Border regions to London. As a result of this, announcers were always from a national team of six live from the Carlton/LWT continuity booth, even with regional idents. Wales retained its own announcers for the time being.
The regional versions of the idents were now only used in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland throughout the day. The other regions had their own idents specifically for use before local programmes. These varied subtly by region:
The set of idents were updated with new sets and celebrities on 1 September 2003, with the sets more pronounced blues and yellows and removing the backstage feel. Along with this, news ident graphics and the backgrounds to the regional idents were changed to overlapped blue squares.
A number of regions changed their identities throughout the period:
The look was dropped at different times:
The 1 November 2004 heralded a new on-air look coinciding with the launch of ITV3. The ITV1 logo was reworked, splitting it into separate squares. On-screen, the boxes were arranged as a large yellow square containing the '1' with blue ITV boxes on top. This logo would be seen against a generic background of a blue sky with clouds, windows of a high-rise building, underwater with bubbles floating by, and dark blue ribbons flowing against a blue background.
The plan for these Idents was to use them as mini-menus showing what is coming up soon. The Idents would zoom to the left allowing a short video and description of the upcoming programmes to be shown before the panels of the videos become part of the ITV1 logo in the centre of the screen. They were not designed to be traditional idents, however, despite the fact that ITV took on a team of associate producers to produce these promotions, the promotional idents were used less and less as the months go on.
During this period, ITV spent a lot of this period using themed idents specific to particular programmes, such as Celebrity Love Island.
Once again, not all of the companies took the look:
Regional idents were available and featured the ITV1 ident with the region name written under the logo, to a background of different shades of dark blue. However, the ident was becoming less frequently seen, usually only before some local news bulletins and the decreasing number of regional programming. ITV1 Wales was the exception to the rule, with a Wales name added to the bottom of all idents in their package.
The ITV plc regions, the only regions to adopt the look, dropped it in 2006 in favour of a complete overhaul. Final idents (ribbons and clouds) were shown on 16 January 2006 before GMTV, without spoken continuity announcements.
On 16 January 2006, a brand new logo and presentation package was unleashed. It brought ITV1, ITV2 and ITV3 in line with ITV4. It was part of a major rebrand of the ITV network, known as Brand 2010, which also included the News and Sport divisions as well as off-screen content. It was designed by Red Bee Media following a perception analysis carried out by the audience. The results stated that although all the ITV channels had a good combining brand, with the ITV logo, they all looked the same, couldn't be told apart, their programming values were blurred and the ITV logo itself was getting boring.
The solution was to make a new logo in a rounded-off box, involving the lowercase itv. These, it was claimed, made the service look friendly, retaining what had been attempted in 1998, and yet fresh and crisp. From there they added an extra rectangle on the other side of the channel name. All channels shared this look with the colour being the only main difference with the exception of the name. This provided the distinctiveness, yet unity they sought.
The ITV1 idents were created on the basis that ITV1 provokes "an emotional response in all of us" and therefore the so-called 'Emotion' idents were created. Many were shot in South Africa and featured a montage of unrelated scenes, which include such things as a man rubbing his bare chest, girls rolling down a hill, and two people hugging trees. These represented moods such as joy, pride, sadness, love, etc. In them, the 'ITV1' logo would open out and enclose the footage it was superimposed onto. The exception to the rule was one of the ITV1 logo on a black background, used to introduce the news.
The look was controversial both with critics, online and in print, viewers and ITV bosses who saw the look as too vague. This look had one regional ident, Pride which was used before regional programming and also for a time at the 19:00 and 22:30 junctions on Thursdays, with an announcer name-checking the regional station on some occasions. These were the last ITV idents to include the region's name onscreen. ITV1 Wales also had a full selection of idents for a time before they began using the standard ITV1 idents with Wales added on the live television feed during transmission.
Only two of the four ITV parent companies adopted any part of the look:
The next presentation of ITV1 was launched on 13 November 2006, just 10 months after the last new look. Following the issues with the previous one, the themes were changed slightly: the logo remained the same shape and style, but with the letters, ITV changed to black so as to contrast with the yellow of the logo better. This look also saw another change for regional idents for the ITV plc-owned stations; the regional names were now used leading into the regional news only.
The ident films themselves were scrapped and a new set was created following the theme of "Alive with Colour" with ITV promoting the new idents as the "second phase" of the look introduced in January. The idents, based on the previous set by Red Bee Media, were designed by The Mill and produced by Blink Productions and Pleix include surreal scenes featuring yellow colours to the same audio track. The look launched with six idents: 'Beach', 'Bike', 'Lake', 'Market', 'Basketball' and 'Pavement Art', with another 4 added on 3 September 2007 which runs in tandem with the previous ones. These latest idents included an ITV1 logo that was bigger than the ones launched in 2006 but retained the same soundtrack.
In April 2010, ITV1 HD was launched, featuring an updated glossier logo based on that of ITV1. In response, ITV1 changed its logo to the glossier version and launched another four idents. These latest idents have been noticeably different from their predecessors: the logo was once again larger and faded on in parts. They also featured individual soundtracks based on those previously and the style of the ident themselves, namely the shooting of them, was very different from those before them. They were accompanied on-screen by updated programme promotions, end credit promotions, stings, and break bumpers.
Because of these changes, all of the idents were updated with the new logo, including making it bigger in many places. However, the soundtracks remained the same causing some to question why the other idents weren't changed with the new looks. Viewer opinions suggest that the original music is unpopular, but the ident package itself is generally popular. This has been the longest-lasting ITV generic look to date, lasting far longer than the 1999 Hearts, and being kept by far more companies and for longer collectively than the 1989 Generic look.
The primary criticisms of the look have been the scrapping of regional idents. All regions are introduced with a national ident and the region is not referenced in the announcement. The exception to the rule is ITV1 Wales, with includes the word 'Wales' either underneath the ident or located in the bottom left-hand corner of the ident. The Wales ident was used before all programming except overnight for the first few years of the rebrand before being quietly relegated to regional junctions only.
A paper lantern-themed ident, first aired in April 2010, was withdrawn after the National Farmers Union criticized ITV for the dangers of paper lanterns.
This package was only seen in some areas of the ITV network, however:
The ITV plc regions, the only regions to adopt the look, dropped it in 2013 in favour of a complete overhaul.
On 15 November 2012, it was announced that ITV1 was to receive a rebrand in January 2013, in which it would revert to its old name of ITV. A new "curvy" logo was introduced with new idents and presentation package. This was first implemented on 14 January 2013.
Also on 14 January 2013, ITV1 +1 and ITV1 HD were rebranded to ITV +1 and ITV HD respectively, whilst sister channels ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, and CITV all received new idents and presentation based upon the new corporate logo (later two new channels based on the 2013 ITV logo, first ITV Encore from June 2014, and then ITVBe from October 2014 were also joined the sister channels).
ITV's new idents were created to reflect "everyday life of the Great British public". New idents will be brought in on a consistent basis to reflect the four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. In addition, the new ITV logo changes colour on each ident, a process named as "colour picking", in which each segment of the logo adopts the colour of whatever passes behind it.
This package is only seen on the ITV plc owned companies of Anglia, Border, Central, Channel Television, Granada, London, Meridian, Tyne Tees, Wales (Later ITV Cymru Wales), West Country and Yorkshire.
UTV fully used the look, when ITV plc bought the channel in February 2016 and relaunched it on 17 October 2016 to match ITV's 2013 branding.
The STV Group companies of STV Central and STV North have refused their new look, instead continuing with their triangle flip idents introduced on 23 March 2009, before being rebranded on 2 June 2014.
In December 2018, ITV announced a new project, ITV Creates, which would be the basis of its idents beginning on 1 January 2019. The network will commission artwork featuring the ITV logo from British artists, which will be used as the basis for a new set of idents every week. The first 8 artists of the project were Ravi Deepres, Sutapa Biswas, James Brunt, Patricia Volk, Mark Titchner, Katrina Russell Adams, Kristina Veasey, and James Alec Hardy.
ITV Creative executive creative director Tony Pipes explained that the project was meant to be a platform for British visual artists, reflect ITV's position as being an "endlessly creative" broadcaster, and counter the traditional notion of idents being a static theme used for a long-term period.
Until April 2020, the ITV Creates idents were only used by the ITV-branded stations in England, Wales, and the Channel Islands. UTV initially continued to use the 2013 ident series, with a new on-air presentation used alongside the new idents, but began taking on full ITV branding in April 2020. This was initially meant to be temporary due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but was later made permanent in November of the same year. As before, the STV Group of STV Central and STV North did not use this presentation.
A new set of idents, entitled "ITV Creates Project", debuted on 1 January 2021. Unlike the original set, each ident was now used for a month rather than a week, with two batches. No ident was created for March 2021, due to ITV using their "ITV Kids Create" idents that month. In 2022, these idents were used in tandem with the original set of "Creates" idents.
On 15 November 2022, all five of ITV's main channels underwent a rebranding to coincide with the launch of ITVX, with new logos and idents by the agencies DixonBaxi and Coffee & TV respectively. All five channels adopted idents with the theme of a "multiverse", depicting different scenes at common locations that reflect each channel's programming output and image. For the first time since 2013, ITV was renamed back to "ITV1".