A Look Into the Most Unique Logo Development Processes Part One: The NBC Peacock

Logo Credit: Steff Geissbuhler at    Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

Logo Credit: Steff Geissbuhler at Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

Today, the sight of a multi-colored peacock showing off its feathers is instantly associated with NBC. Those roots can be traced all the way back to 1956 when the company first decided to visually capture the excitement of color television, broadcasting and modern technology. The logo development process used by NBC was incredibly successful, and many consumers have no memory of the company’s four logos that didn’t even include the peacock at all!

The First Logos

The first logo NBC adopted was in 1943, and it was a microphone emitting red waves emblazoned with NBC. The logo was perfectly suited for the company, which was heavily focused on radio before trying to gain traction as a broadcasting network. In 1954, to move away from the perception of being “just a radio station,” NBC used a three-toned xylophone logo and used their infamous triple chime sound for the first time. 

A Change in the World

With the advent of color television, viewers were excited about all that television networks had to offer. NBC wanted to differentiate themselves as the most exciting place to take in programs and news and woo a new audience. The Director of Design at NBC was in charge of the logo development process, and he conceptualized the peacock. The first NBC peacock logo had 11 features in six colors—burgundy, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. At the start and end of shows, the NBC logo would briefly flash on the screen to showcase the potential of color technology.

Exciting New Developments

While the peacock was catching on and the logo development was successful, NBC wanted to update things in the 1960s. The updated peacock had bright feathers that fanned out from colors in the background while an announcer reminded the viewer what channel they were viewing. The logo development process shifted to creating an entirely new logo, as executives worried that the peacock was reminiscent of the past and not a symbol of the future.

In the 1970s, NBC briefly retired their peacock in favor of a stylized “N.” That didn’t last long, as viewers missed the peacock and the company suffered due to losing part of their brand identity. They brought it back only five years after retiring it as a sleeker peacock without feet and only retaining the simple, teardrop-shaped body.

The Modern Peacock

In 1986, two graphic designers created the “Modern Peacock” logo that we all recognize today. Instead of 11 feathers, the peacock only had six feathers. Each feather was used to signify one part of what NBC did—news, sports, entertainment, television network, television stations and operations and technical services.

Logo Development from M Design

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