CBS Makeover Strives for Unity

Oct 23, 2006  •  Post A Comment

CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus can cross off one of the high-priority items on his to-do list as of Oct. 30.

That’s when “The Early Show”-the last of the news division’s news programs to do so-unveils its new graphics and music. From then on, according to Morning Broadcast VP Steve Friedman, “When CBS News is on, you’ll know it by the look and the feel.

“Whether it’s the John Williams music or Roone Arledge’s trumpets, you know when NBC News is on; you know when ABC News is on,” Mr. Friedman said. “Now you will know when CBS News is on. We can’t have, as it was in the past, every man and woman for themselves, every show with its own look and feel.”

Since late spring, a team convened by Mr. McManus has been focused on graphics and musical signatures that each news show or special-event team could adapt to suit its mission and needs.

The new look (created by Boston-based National Ministry of Design) and sound (written by “Titanic” composer James Horner) debuted Sept. 5, on the premiere of the “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.”

In early October, the “CBS Morning Show” and the overnight “Up to the Minute” newscast rolled out their new looks and sounds.

When Mr. McManus added CBS News to his portfolio in December 2006, the daily news programs bore about as much visual and auditory resemblance to each other as a cattle call of red-headed stepchildren.

“The Early Show’s” new look will extend beyond the logo colors (more red and blue than the yellow and blue of the “Evening News” logo) and typeface (the new CBS News fonts: Akzidenz-Grotesk for “Early” and Palatino Bold for “The” and “Show”) to the “Early Show” bug in the lower-right corner and the headlines to the boxes that frame live remotes.

“We need to wake people up in the morning. We don’t want to be dark and dreary. We want to be bright and full of life,” said Michael Mancini, the “Early Show” and “Morning News” director who uses words such as sharp, alive, clean and classy when talking about the new “Early” logo.

Mr. Friedman said the issues on which it was hardest to reach a consensus were color (“always the hardest thing”), how to incorporate the network’s famous eye logo (“because this is CBS”) and the movement in the graphics.

The thesis throughout the process, Mr. Mancini said, was “Let’s get back to the Tiffany Network. Let’s get back to a look of CBS News that can represent the history this news division has had.”