After fifteen years of use the current "tower" Comedy Central logo is being put out to pasture. The replacement, a "C" surrounded by a reverse "C" and flanked by the channel's name (with "Central" flipped) was announced today, and will replace the current logo early next year.
Here's a little perspective: the last time Comedy Central made a significant branding change, neither The Daily Show nor South Park had premiered on its airwaves. The new logo will accompany a complete overhaul of the channel's graphics and advertising. The new mark bears an unmistakable likeness to the "©" copyright symbol, used in the United States and around the world to delineate a registered copyright. Coincidentally, it also bears a resemblance to the logo for the Federal Communications Commission, an organization that hasn't exactly seen eye-to-eye with Comedy Central in the past.
The network hopes to "brand" its various old and new properties with its new mark, illustrated in a two-minute into video juxtaposing Comedy Central shows with the new logo, typography and graphics. Headliners South Park, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are featured prominently, along with newer properties like Tosh.0, Ugly Americans and the newly revived Futurama. The flat, bold color scheme jives with many web 2.0 and mobile interfaces, which makes sense as the network tries to expand its presence in social networks and video-on-demand services.
So is the new logo good? In a word, no.
An iconic logo needs to be three things: unique, versatile, and relevant. Uniqueness is obvious - hardly anyone on Earth would confuse the Nike, Coca Cola or Apple logos with another brand. You can't say the same about the new Comedy Central logo, which is derivative not only of the copyright logo, but could be easily confused with other long-standing brands such as the Creative Commons or even the Chicago Cubs. It's not versatile, because it only works well as a one-color design.
That might be fine for the network's simple new branding, but putting it on top of the overly saturated and colorful logos for The Daily Show or Futurama would be awkward - not to mention the confusion with a standard copyright or trademark symbol. A lack of enclosure doesn't help. Is the new logo relevant? Not when compared with the current branding - though an effective advertising push would help change that, and Comedy Central seems more than ready to invest time on its own channel and in web and traditional advertising.
In my opinion, one of the best TV branding changes in recent years has been the new USA Network logo, introduced in 2005. It's unique, memorable, and the use of positive and negative space is incredibly effective. The new Comedy Central is overly simplistic and forgettable in comparison.
Look for Comedy Central's new branding in January.