As more and more digital channels crowd the TV dial, it’s getting harder for any one of them to stand out. With this in mind, the creators of kids learning channel Noggin, a joint venture between Nickelodeon and Children’s Television Workshop, have been working hard to brand the collection of Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues and Doug re-runs as a cohesive package with a distinctive personality for this month’s launch.
Big Blue Dot, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, has been involved in the channel’s development right from the start. The company helped Noggin GM Tom Ascheim come up with both a mission statement and an attitude for the new channel. ‘Instead of trying to make education fun, we’re going to try to make fun educational,’ says Ascheim. ‘We think that’s going to give us license to create a brand that kids love and come to, not because they’re supposed to, but because they want to.’
Next, the Noggin team set about developing the brand by creating a logo and slogan that captured the channel’s essence. After several dead ends, including a gloved hand
snapping its fingers, the three-part ‘flexi-logo’ (featuring the bottom half of a child’s face, a Noggin bar, and over 200 interchangeable tops) was settled on. ‘The top part always changes in response to the world around it,’ says Ascheim, ‘and a lot of what I think we’re trying to embody is a place that is responsive to kids, and responsive to the world.’
The ‘What sparks you?’ slogan was designed to capture kids’ natural curiosity in a way that didn’t remind them of school. It’s also intended to add to the interactivity of the channel and its accompanying Web site through interstitials showing kids answering that question.
Alisa Shapiro, a producer at Big Blue Dot, says the name, logo and slogan will be used in bumps, bugs, IDs, ‘next ups,’ advertising, interstitials and interim original programming ranging from one to five minutes long. In fact, as the only original programming on the channel, the branding will play a key role: Ascheim estimates that branding efforts will occupy at least one-fifth of the total air time.
for more on Noggin see ‘CTW and Nick put heads together,’ June 1998, searchable @ www.kidscreen.com
A short history of Nognet
Winter 1995 Nickelodeon approaches Big Blue Dot about branding a
new learning channel. Name and logo chosen.
February 1996 Nick president Geraldine Laybourne leaves, and project
goes on indefinite hold.
Early 1997 Nick president Herb Scannell resurrects idea in
light of new digital channels. Co-venture discussions with
May 1998 Big Blue Dot re-hired to continue developing logo and
February 1999 Noggin launches.