CBS Sets First-Ever Companywide Brand Refresh to ‘Become Relevant to Today’

Streamlined overhaul features return of ‘This is CBS’ slogan, now as a five-note mnemonic

The refresh keeps the iconic CBS Eye logo front and center, while breaking apart the elements that make it up in a “modern and fresh” way, said CMO Mike Benson. CBS
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CBS is implementing its first companywide brand refresh ever, as it looks to embrace the changing media landscape—and appeal to younger viewers—while also paying tribute to visual and audio elements from its 91-year history.

As part of the new brand identity, which started rolling out on-air this week, president and CMO Mike Benson is connecting all the brands across CBS—including its entertainment, news, sports and studio units—with a single logo and typeface to create a “consistent framework” across the company, he told Adweek.

He has also resurrected the iconic “This is CBS” voiceover slogan, not heard on-air since the ’90s, and turned it into a five-note mnemonic melody, paired with animation, that will appear at the top of each hour during the network’s prime-time programming.

The simplified, streamlined overhaul more directly connects CBS with its subsidiary brands like sports and news while also emphasizing the various ways consumers can watch its content: live, on demand or streaming.

The refresh will help CBS pivot from “a linear broadcast brand to a multiplatform entertainment brand that really delivers high quality content,” said Benson, who said that one of the big things that convinced him to leave Amazon Studios for CBS last year was the prospect of being able to unify the brand in such a significant way.  

But soon after Benson arrived at CBS and began researching the brand, he realized, “we can’t just do an identity refresh; we really need to understand the heart of the brand and what that means to us.”

That’s because consumer research indicated that the CBS brands wasn’t connecting with consumers, especially younger ones.

“There’s an older audience, 50-plus, that knows all about CBS, but there’s a younger audience that doesn’t know much about us,” said Benson, explaining that the brand needed to “become relevant to today.”

Benson wanted to bring “clarity” to the brand in a way that “people understand who and what we’re about” and that CBS gets “the attribution we need”—i.e., they “get credit” for the shows and talent they deliver as a company, including the programs made by their in-house production studio that air on third-party platforms.

As a result, marketing for all content on CBS and CBS-owned platforms will be now be tagged with either “CBS Original” (for entertainment shows), “CBS News,” or “CBS Sports.” And the network will add “CBS Presents” to major events like the Grammys and the Kennedy Center Honors.

This new promo tag, for sitcom The Neighborhood, shows the new “CBS Original” tag and the “live + on demand + streaming” messaging that will now be included on all entertainment and news marketing.

Until now, CBS Entertainment, CBS Sports and CBS News each utilized different logos and typefaces. “It was almost a logo soup,” said Benson. “The only thing that connected them together was the eye,” and even then, “nothing was consistent about it.”

For the first time, the entertainment, news and sports units will each utilize the same logo and typeface.

Applying the same logo and typeface to all the units, the new design features different color palettes for entertainment, news and sports. For example, news is black and white, to reflect a fair, unbiased approach, while CBS Sports spotlights the colors of the various leagues and franchises it is partnered with.

Despite the changes, the refresh keeps the iconic CBS Eye logo front and center, while breaking apart the shapes and elements that make up the eye in a “modern and fresh” way, said Benson.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.