DESIGN – NBC logo gets the bird

In 1976 NBC shelled out somewhere between $750,000 and $1 million to develop a new logo – a lot of money by the standards of the day. Out went their traditional, brightly plumed peacock (first introduced in 1956 and pictured on the right) and in came a logo based on an upper case N, in red and blue.

Unfortunately this stood firmly on the toes, and the intellectual property of Nebraska Educational TV, which had been using a very similar logo (in a very similar colour) for the previous two years – and developed for the altogether more reasonable price of $75 (see below).

NBC settled out of court with ETV by giving them roughly $500,000 worth of used television equipment and $55,000 in cash. In exchange, NBC got the rights to the “N” logo. By 1980 they had created a shotgun wedding of the old peacock logo and the N. Six years later, NBC ditched the N and went back to the peacock on its own with the letters NBC below.

The more observant reader will see that the 1986 logo had its beak turned to its left, rather than its right, which apparently signified that the company is looking to the future – rather than sideways, which might be the logical inference.

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