The rebranding of CNN International. Hello World.
In 1986, Ted Turner had a big idea. As news happens 24 hours a day, he reasoned there should be a 24hr news channel. So rolling news was born.
CNN had the first mover advantage and created a look that others copied - the headline bar, news ticker, breaking news and split screen interviews were all adopted by the rash of 24hr news channels that followed. The CNN template became the look of news, also informing the look and feel of their global channel, CNN International.
However, faced with increasing competition, particularly the impending threat of Al Jazeera’s new English language channel, changes were needed. We were fortunate to be selected to undertake a strategic review, which culminated in the rebrand of the channel.
We made some key recommendations. Firstly, treat the CNN logo with the respect it deserves.
Secondly, stop looking like American news - CNN International looked like all the other American news channels. De-clutter the screen. The on-screen information graphics had started to overwhelm the content and were distracting from the news stories. And finally, lose the ticker. This was a tough one as CNN had invented the news ticker. Our research however showed that it was counter-productive. One interviewee said it was like being trapped next to a really boring person at a party.
Once appointed, we proposed three routes going forward: ‘wash and brush up’, ‘new haircut or the ‘full make-over’. To our surprise the then CEO Chris Cramer opted to go radical and so our new stripped down, story-led approach was given the green-light.
Changing global brands is always controversial and the result proved to have a Marmite effect. The blogosphere and the press were jammed with comment both for and against. The new look however not only survived but influenced nearly every other 24hr news channel, with some blatantly copying the look outright. Once again CNN had changed the face of news and we were very proud to be part of the process.