Indepth on Yorkshire Television 

24 May 2004

Kif Bowden-Smith looks in-depth at the Yorkshire fleur-de-lis chevron

The Yorkshire Television chevron symbol is one of the last of the great “old style” network trademarks. It was designed during early 1968, and the version used was actually the second attempt by the artists.

The arms of the chevron were originally planned to be much thicker, but the first version lacked the elegance of the one finally chosen.

The symbol comes from an era when trademarks were required by convention to have some meaning, and to suggest some story behind them. The network had been dominated up until then by adastrals, triangles, arrows and shadowed eyes.

The designers of the Yorkshire chevron were aware that they were joining something of a “hall of fame” and were determined not to appear second rate.

The chevron suffered a bit at first by the inevitable comparison with the ABC triangle, which it was of course (partly) replacing. The triangle seemed pretty solid, while the chevron had a more modest elegance.

Over time however, the implication of the letter “Y” in the shape, combined with the hint of rural symbolism and flower petals to underpin the new logo with real implied meaning.

This was combined with an implication of strength with elegance, almost a benevolent sense of ‘power for the common good’.

Prior to launch, the newspapers had shown some interest in the prospective ident planned for the new station (a journalistic curiosity unimaginable today) and a spokeswoman for the company had described the logo before publication as having “hints of fleur-de-lis” (as later found on the new 2p coin).

For some time after, the trademark was called “The YTV fleur-de-lis” in the press, although this was not necessarily an official name.

Oddly, the symbol was probably shown off to best effect in the black and white days, when the chevron was large, dominating the screen, with the company name as a smaller afterthought. Image consultants soon scotched this very acceptable practice, and the name size began to take precedence, with the chevron occupying an ever-smaller portion of the screen.

At one point, the logo began to look like an afterthought and the geometrical magic upon which these things rely dissipated for several years, until the shape was enlarged again.

Another curiosity was the decision, on going into colour, to end the practice of the “moving form up” of the symbol, and default to a ready formed symbol from the outset.

This gave the minor advantage of having the full name on the screen longer, but again sacrificed magic to expediency.

What makes this symbol a classic?

The same trademark has now survived against all the odds for thirty-four years, and has taken its place in the genre as a great design.

It may be the longevity and consistency that has scored (always good qualities in design terms) rather than the original shape. Those viewers who notice these things at all, more than the cynics would suggest, like the familiarity an unchanging logo gives. The product that it symbolises is thus well branded.

It has Yorkshire rural feel, an aesthetic elegance, a purpose bolstered by longevity, and above all a sense of power that is so lacking in some logos today.

The ident in use

The first glimpse of YTV’s symbol came on a schools preview programme before the station went on air. A correspondent tells us that this was designed in competition, and the winner bought a used Ford Anglia with the prize money.

YTV forms up YTV in Trident days

The logo that was actually used forming up in monochrome on one hand, and not forming up at all in colour on the other.

YTV in 3D

3D hits YTVland. A local ident boasting of the 6 million people in the region (now 7 million) spins to reveal that region and name the towns most important to it, before spinning back to the ‘local’ television station that serves them.

YTV in the 1990s

An endcap from the 1990s, in the early days of Granada’s ownership of the company. Since then, the company symbol has slowly been whittled away by its new owner further than the ‘Channel 3’ idea ever did.

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