Why the brand new PBS Kids brand removed the child

Not till having kids did I enter the universe of PBS Kids—the child-friendly arm of the Public Broadcasting Service. With 13.5 million TV viewers between the ages of two and eight—supplemented by practically half a billion streams on digital platforms and an app filled with interactive video games—the general public service is a juggernaut in free household programming.

From left: earlier brand, new brand [Images: PBS]

Come July 19, PBS Kids is launching its greatest brand redesign in additional than 20 years. Notably, the emblem’s mascot—a lime inexperienced boy named Dash (who, if you consider it, is sufficiently old at this level to drink)—has been kicked off the mark. In his place would be the bubbly phrases PBS Kids. And that’s it. There aren’t any kids, no animals, nothing screaming “Youth programming right here!”

Maria Whelan, senior director and head of promoting and model engagement at PBS Kids, admits this was a shocking route for the model, provided that “younger children aren’t all the time readers but.”

So why did PBS Kids do it?

As it seems, the rebrand has been within the works since 2019, and it has been paced intentionally to validate the strategy with PBS’s current viewers. PBS led the branding internally however partnered with Lippincott, a agency chances are you’ll know finest for the Starbucks siren, to help with the method. The backside line is that the present brand, ostensibly created in 1999 (and iterated upon solely evenly since), served televisions higher than the rising array of small screens and apps the place it would seem. Functionally talking, eliminating the face allowed the phrases PBS Kids to be loads greater, and due to this fact extra legible throughout the similar area.

Previous logos [Image: PBS]

But this practical choice wasn’t the one logic driving PBS’s improvement course of. The crew interviewed 33 households from throughout the U.S. of various race, ethnicity, and financial background, talking to kids and their mother and father, and utilizing them to focus check a number of new instructions for the emblem.

“We did have questions round inclusion,” Whelan explains. “We wished suggestions from our viewers immediately . . . to evolve the emblem to raised signify the [audience].”

What they realized throughout these interviews was that kids weren’t as wedded to seeing one other youngster’s face within the brand as you would possibly suppose. In reality, these conversations revealed that the typography of “PBS Kids” was essentially the most recognizable piece of the model (even for youngsters who haven’t but realized to learn).

New characters [Image: PBS]

Even nonetheless, by itself the PBS Kids brand does look a bit much less enjoyable to me than the earlier iteration—and I can’t assist however marvel if conserving faces of some kind might have helped children see themselves within the model. However, this criticism is essentially mitigated by the remainder of the PBS Kids model system.

Dash is gone, whereas co-mascots Del, Dot, and Dee will technically stick round, albeit joined by an infinite assortment of recent characters, who’ve developed from inexperienced folks into all folks.

Building on comparable character shapes that PBS Kids already makes use of, designers created an entire equipment of mix-and-match people who signify an array of races, ethnicities, and bodily skills—but additionally combined in just a few blue, inexperienced, and purple buddies as nicely. (If you’re a PBS Kids watcher, a few of these new folks can be acquainted. Their rollout started in late 2021.)

Mix-and-match character equipment [Image: PBS]

Whether you’re a fan of the replace or not, this PBS Kids rebrand does journey the present zeitgeist of illustration. The inexperienced alien-kid Dash was a single individual representing all of us, implying a tacit message that “we’re all a part of the human race.” But this actually consultant replace now emphasizes a extra trendy approach of framing variety—that our variations ought to be acknowledged and celebrated, quite than glossed over.



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