VH1 Gets #Plussed With New On-Air Look and Logo


When VH1 got started way back in 1985, the cable TV network followed right in the footsteps of its sibling MTV, although focused its efforts at an older demo. While MTV (short for Music Television) scored big with tunes for adolescents and young adults (Men at Work, anyone?), VH1 (an acronym for Video Hits One) was going for the slightly older crowd, playing music videos featuring the likes of Elton John, Donna Summer, and Rod Stewart.

The thirst for an endless stream of music videos on both Viacom-owned channels came to a halt only a few years into their collective existence and shows with varying levels of quality were cranked out. VH1 scored hits with the annotated Pop-Up Video series, the gossipy tell-all bio series Behind the Music, and the artist-centric VH1 Storytellers. The music in both brands has consistently been drowned out since then with a slew of other programming, inspiring the perennial plea by boomers to bring back the music to MTV and VH1 (season three of IFC’s Portlandia kicked off with a plotline to take back MTV from tween with its original VJs and news anchor, Kurt Loder.)

VH1, for one, has decided to indicate that shift with a change in its logo (or as the company likes to call it, “tagmark”). 

As announced at the TCA TV Critics Association press tour, VH1 is kicking off the new year by adding a plus sign to the end of its logo, to reflect the changes in the digital world — meshing together the network’s music, pop culture and nostalgia content together — in tandem with adopting a black-and-white look and feel to its visual identity and on-air promos. It’s promoting the new look with, naturally, a #plussed hashtag on Twitter.[more]

The network’s not suffering — the ad-supported basic cable network has 96 million U.S. subscribers, although it would like to (as with all TV network brands) skew younger and more affluential — and boasts “shows like Mob Wives, Single Ladies, and Love & Hip Hop Atlanta helped the channel increase primetime ratings in the adult 18-49 demo by 33 percent and total viewers in primetime by 14 percent” last year, according to EW.

So if it ain’t broke, shift it up a little more, right? In addition to deep-sixing its old boxy logo (at right), the channel will see the return of Best Week Ever later this month and the debut of The Jenny McCarthy Show in February, while doing more on digital and mobile to engage viewers, in step with Viacom’s social TV focus for all its media brands.

“VH1 is entertainment on steroids,” VH1 president Tom Calderone stated. “We have a legacy of cranking it up to 11, so our ‘tagmark’ helps us to easily convey that to our viewers and build on the promise of delivering our bold and engaging mash-up of music, pop culture and nostalgia that generates so much buzz.” 

“10 years ago, no one had ever heard of Justin Bieber, Mark Zuckerberg just entered Harvard, iPhones were five years away and hashtags didn’t exist,” Calderone told the Hollywood Reporter. “Our world has clearly changed, so we want to reflect those cultural and technological changes in each of the many ways that consumers now touch the VH1 brand.”

Find out more about VH1’s refreshed branding in the videos below, and tell us: Is the new logo a plus or minus for the brand?