NBC logos: Wikis


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Microphone logo (1942-1954)

A modern rendering of early NBC television logos 1942-1954

In 1942, NBC television got its first official logo, coincide with the start of broadcasting in color, a microphone surrounded by lightning bolts, a modification of an existing logo used by the NBC radio network. Lightning bolts were also part of corporate parent RCA's logo, as well as that of one-time sister company RKO Pictures. The left waves were meant for the radio network, and the right waves were meant for the television network. The video version of this logo says, "This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company", followed by the NBC chimes. At the beginning of telecasts, another card depicting an NBC cameraman with his camera was shown.

Xylophone logo (1954–1959)

NBC color xylophone logo from 1954-1959

On January 1, 1954 a stylized xylophone and mallet was introduced, accompanied by the three-tone NBC chimes, first heard on NBC radio in 1927. The main chimes were 7 tones. The current tones, however, tones are the notes G, E and C. This is not a reference to the General Electric Co., then NBC's main sponsor (and former owner), though it is a popular misconception. There is some indication that the xylophone logo was used at 5:32 PM on December 17, 1953 to announce the FCC's approval of the new color standard, which would go into effect 30 days later. Special permission was apparently used on New Year's Day when the Tournament of Roses Parade was aired.

Original peacock logo (1956–1961)

Original peacock logo designed by John J. Graham

In 1956, John J. Graham created an abstraction of an eleven-feathered peacock to indicate richness in color. This brightly hued peacock was adopted due to the increase in color programming. NBC's first color broadcasts showed only a still frame of the colorful peacock. The emblem made its first on-air appearance on May 22, 1956.[1]

On September 7, 1957 on Your Hit Parade the peacock was animated and thereafter appeared at the beginning of every NBC color broadcast until a revamped animation appeared in 1961. Its musical backing was a gong while the peacock began its formup, then an announcer saying "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC" while the music crescendoed and after that a bombastic nine-note flourish while the peacock's feathers changed color and finally "filled out". According to Game Show Network executive David Schwartz, the first announcer who spoke those famous words behind the Peacock graphic logo was Ben Grauer, a familiar voice on NBC since 1930. There is a variant where the peacock changes its feathers and jumps and his feathers change into multi - color words that say "NBC".

NBC snake logo (1959–1975)

The NBC snake logo (1959-1975)

Beginning in 1959, an animated logo joined the Peacock, appearing at the end of broadcasts. Beginning with N, each letter would grow from the other, forming a stacked typographic logo ending with C, forming the base. This would be known as the "NBC snake". Several editions of this exist, the earliest being the snake form in front of a multicolored background while a camera passed by to an orchestral version of the NBC chimes and the second consisting of the snake forming on top of a color-changing background, going from blue to green to red, on each note of the regular, automated NBC chimes.

Second peacock logo/"Laramie Peacock" (1962–1975)

On January 1, 1962, on the Laramie series, a second version of the Peacock opening was introduced in which the bird fanned its bright plumage against a kaleidoscopic color background. As with the 1956 Peacock, this logo only appeared at the start of NBC color broadcasts; as all NBC broadcasts eventually became color, it was generally used only to open those shows that had traditionally opened with the Peacock such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. It was however, seen on the NBC telecasts of The Wizard of Oz as well as on the rebroadcasts of the 1960 Peter Pan. The "Laramie Peacock", named for the series which introduced it, used the same "living color" spiel as did the first peacock but its music piece was a soft, woodwind-based number and the announcer was Mel Brandt. It was revised further in November 1968; the music was slightly rearranged and the animation was shortened by a few seconds, and a second version, with Vic Roby announcing, "Now, a special program in living color on NBC," was unveiled for airing on television specials during this same period. It was shortened further by the beginning of 1975. This peacock was retired in September 1975.

The "Laramie Peacock" has made special appearances throughout the ensuing years, mostly in a retro-kitsch context. Most recently, the peacock heralded the June 1, 2009 premiere broadcast of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.

Stylized "N" logo (1975–1979)

Stylized "N" logo consisting of two trapezoids, from 1975-1979

By 1976, NBC's visual trademark was updated as a stylized N was introduced, consisting of two trapezoids. The design was bold, bright and contemporary. One of the technological innovations of this logo was the first electronically animated ident for an American television network and being previewed on-air for the first time in October 1975, before it became official on January 1, 1976.[2] On the January 10, 1976 telecast of Saturday Night Live, Weekend Update host Chevy Chase mocked the new logo and its $1 million design cost.[3] In February 1976, NBC was sued by the Nebraska ETV Network, Nebraska's chain of PBS affiliates, for trademark infringement, since the new NBC logo was virtually identical to the Nebraska ETV Network logo, except in the coloring. An out-of-court settlement was reached in which NBC gave Nebraska ETV Network new equipment and a mobile color unit, valued at over $800,000, in exchange for allowing NBC to retain their logo. In addition, NBC paid $55,000 to Nebraska ETV to cover the cost of designing and implementing a new logo.[4]

Proud "N" logo (1979–1986)

Proud "N" logo used from 1979 to 1986

The Peacock, still with eleven feathers, returned in the fall of 1979. It was married with the N to create a design called "the Proud N". This was the first time the Peacock was actually part of NBC's own logo. It was simplified in keeping with the letter's pared-down design. Although all eleven feathers were intact, the teardrop tips were gone, the feet were gone and the Peacock's body became a simple triangular shape. On several occasions, the new Peacock was used independently of the N, starting with the 1979 Proud as a Peacock advertising campaign that reintroduced the Peacock but the N and the Peacock were usually used together between 1979 and 1986. A "Network Difficulties" slide used around 1985 did not have the N.

Contrary to popular belief, the Peacock was not originally used as NBC's official primary logo; the 1956 and 1962 versions were used solely to identify the network's color broadcasts, while other logos, initially the xylophone logo but most commonly the NBC snake logo, identified NBC itself. Nonetheless, the Peacock became so identified with NBC that it was incorporated into the network logo in 1979 by Fred Silverman, then President of NBC, due to prior research from 1977 in NBC's corporate planning department by Peter H. Kliegman who recommended the station identification value of the Peacock and suggested the Peacock be utilized as a logo. The Peacock became the sole logo in 1986.

Peacock logo (1986-present)

Current logo created by Chermayeff & Geismar used since 1986

On May 12, 1986, during a broadcast of the NBC 60th Anniversary Celebration, NBC stars of past and present stood on stage to introduce a new logo to America. The arranged marriage of N and Peacock ended and "The Bird" finally assumed its official place as NBC's symbol. The peacock's head was now flipped to the right to suggest it was looking forward, not back. The eleven feathers from its previous peacock logo was shortened to six to reference NBC's six divisions at that time: News, Sports, Entertainment, Stations, Network and Productions. Incorporating the six primary and secondary colors, this Peacock, redesigned by Chermayeff & Geismar, remains one of the world's most recognized logos. The network maintains specific guidelines for the logo, including proper colors for reproduction, using either RGB, CMYK or Pantone colors. The usage guidelines are contained in the NBC Logo Legal Usage Guidelines which is distributed to NBC employees involved in graphics as well as outside vendors, such as advertising agencies, who may need to use the logo.[5]

Almost all of NBC's affiliates added the new peacock to their logo but a few still kept the old peacock on their logo for a few months after the logo's introduction. The new logo was adopted universally on September 1, 1986. A rare variant, that incorporated the General Electric logo and Univers font of its branding identity appeared on air a few times during 1986 and 1987. The logo/ID had the NBC logo with the words "Proud to be a part of" in the Univers font and the GE logo.

The logo first appeared as an on-screen bug in the 1993–1994 television season, appearing only at the beginning of shows and staying on throughout shows since the 1995–1996 television season. From 1993 to 2003, the logo appeared on the bottom of the screen and a variety of effects resulting in its formation, usually during a show's opening sequence. These effects alone centered in the middle of the screen continue to be used as a sort of screensaver during network commercial breaks during local time, and can be seen on an NBC affiliate when it has technical difficulties going to their local advertising and keeps the network feed on-screen.



Starting in 2004, if a show was presented in widescreen, the logo would be shrunk and placed to fit within the 16:9 video area. During the 2006-2007 television season, this smaller widescreen logo was only used during live broadcasts, such as Saturday Night Live, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, Live Earth and the July 4 fireworks special. The small logo was reintegrated at the start of the 2007–2008 television season on all widescreen programming, including prerecorded standard definition broadcasts in order to insert promos during the show. High-definition programming used a variation of the network's logo bug accompanied by HD text from November 2006 until December 2007. Live broadcasts in high-definition previously used a smaller NBC bug without the HD text. Today, the NBC bug is placed within the 4:3 safe picture, so the logo bug is identical on the standard definition feed as well as the high-definition feed.

The logo bug is also presented opaque in full color during a show's opening credits, with the bug sometimes accompanied by .com text. The Biggest Loser live finale episodes continue to use the version with the NBC calls below the Peacock, due to that program's production in SDTV being based out of Burbank instead of New York.

The logo is sometimes accompanied with NBC text, usually below the peacock but this is not always the case; the network's logo bug did not incorporate the text until 2002 and it was removed in the fall of 2006 from programs besides NBC Nightly News and Early Today, NBC Nightly News finally got the 2006 bug starting March 26, 2007 to coincide with the program's first high definition broadcast, with the web address for MSNBC later added to the right side on the Nightly News. Some NBC Sports programs, such as golf and olympic sports, use a bug that has the Olympic rings below the peacock. This version is also used on regular programming, starting with the beginning of the television season during seasons with the Winter Olympics, or the beginning of a calendar year with the Summer Olympics.

Shortly after the beginning of the 2006–2007 television season, almost all NBC programming moved their variation of the NBC logo to the left corner of the screen, including graphics for Today, Meet the Press and Dateline NBC. The left version was less embossed than the previous version and did not display NBC beneath it. After the beginning of the 2009 TV season on September 28 as part of the lead-up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the Olympics variant of the on-screen logo is used on all programming, except news programming.

Since December 2007, NBC occasionally places a text advertisement for an upcoming show above or next to the NBC peacock. The ad is present on both the SD and HD feeds.

Since 2008, all NBC promos ended with the peacocks feathers spinning, overtaking the screen in the process, until zooming back and placing itself next to the nbc.com url, while the left three feathers bump out and in to a subtle refrain of the NBC chimes, the sound and instrument of which varies by the program or event promoted, but may not be shown or played at all times. Instruments may not even be used; the sounds of a gun being cocked in the key of G-E-C were used in a July 2008 promo for My Own Worst Enemy.

Since late 2009, with the "More Colorful" slogan change, the end of promos feature the NBC peacock in the center of the screen, flickering through all the colors and ending up on the regular logo, usually with a main character of the TV series next to the logo.

Flag variation (2001-2002)

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, NBC introduced a special version of the peacock that replaced the colors with a furled American flag waving within the logo (including within the logo bug), which was used until the 2002 Winter Olympics.


In 2007, three different logos were used in November and December, all using the Peacock logo:

Green variation (November, April, and St. Patrick's Day)
"Green" NBC peacock variant

Starting in 2007 during the third week in November, NBC, along with all other NBC Universal owned networks, began using green logos and logo bugs as part of GE's Green is Universal company-wide environmental initiative, which is also utilized for Earth Week during the fourth week in April, along with St. Patrick's Day for holiday purposes. During the Earth Week logo iteration in April 2008, the Olympic Rings remained their usual gold color (or grey in the logo bug) due to compulsory display standards disallowing any endorsement of another cause beyond the Olympic movement. The November 2009 version of the logo displayed only the Peacock, putting aside the rings completely for the week within the logo bug.

Christmas variation (December 2007)

From December 10 to December 26, the peacock was shown in full color with a Santa hat for Christmas with text on top of it promoting an NBC show. Unlike past variations, the logo stayed in full color for the length of the program.

New Year's Day variation (December 2007)

From the 27th of December and until January 1, 2008, a party hat was put on the peacock for New Year's Day. Similar to the holiday variation, it has text on top of it and stays in full color for the program's length.

HDTV 4:3 Safe Bug Redesign

On May 22, 2008, the NBC peacock bug on HDTV programming was moved from the right corner of the screen to the left side of the 4:3 safe aspect ratio area. Also at this time the advertising text that was once above the bug has been moved to the right of the bug. The bug was moved to this position to make downconverting the network HD feed for SDTV after the June 12, 2009 analog TV shutoff easier. SDTV viewers will still see the bug in its usual position in the left corner.

Other variations

Somewhere in the 50's the logo was replaced with a card saying, This Program Is Being Televised In COLOR And Black And White.

In 1965, one peacock introduction began as normal with announcer Mel Brandt's standard introduction, but right after the peacock flourished, Brandt says "It just starts in black and white!"

In 1967, NBC was the first TV network to show The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, but as it was filmed in black and white, NBC replaced the peacock with an animated top-hatted penguin waddling onto the screen and flapping its flightless wings (in an imitation of the peacock) with announcer Mel Brandt drolly intoning over the music, "The following very, very special program is brought to you in lively black and white, on NBC."

In 1968, an episode of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In started with people watching a 16 millimeter movie. The movie starts with a film leader and then the 1965 peacock logo. At the very end of the logo the peacock sneezes, sending its feathers flying off-screen. This clip was later re-used in the 80s to open an episode of TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes starring Dick Clark & Ed McMahon.

In 1993, NBC commissioned several artists (including Al Hirschfeld, Peter Maxx, John Kricfalusi, J.J. Sedelmeier, David Daniels, Joan Gratz, and Mark Malmberg) to devise personal variations of the peacock for promotional use. Animated versions of the Hirschfeld, Maxx, and Kricfalusi peacocks act as stings.

See also


  1. ^ The New York Times Encyclopedia of Television by Les Brown (Times Books, a division of Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company, Inc., 1977), ISBN 0-8129-0721-3, p. 328
  2. ^ Supertrain
  3. ^ NBC's Saturday Night, January 10, 1976 (season 1, DVD 3)
  4. ^ http://mynptv.org/comm/handbook/history.pdf
  5. ^ NBC logos website

External links


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