The BBC rebranded and launched a suite of new logos in October 2021. As an agency owner who is still battling the effects of the pandemic, this story passed me by some 15 months ago, as did, the new BBC suite of logos. I barely noticed them if I am honest, and I watch the Beeb a lot. That said, it’s hit the news in recent days.

Don’t get me wrong, I am big when it comes to brand. And I will do what I can to protect the values of any brand we develop, create, evolve or work on. But I can’t be the only agency owner who almost spat out her tea when learning that taxpayers paid a staggering £7m for the Beeb’s rebrand.

I know clients who see no value in investing in a brand identity, and fortunately I see and work with many clients that do (phew!). Part of developing a brand identity goes way beyond a logo, and so it should be too. It should be the company’s badge of honour that speaks volumes about who they are and what they stand for.

But let’s come back to that £7m investment (seven million pounds). I am really struggling to understand how that was approved, what the cost proposal looked like, and who signed that off. What I can envisage is the agency owner’s delight that it was.

It’s a simple mathematical equation. Divide the agency’s time (that it took to do the work) into £7m and that will give us an hourly rate. Or, take the hourly rate and x it by the time it takes for all those involved to deliver the work (either way works).

As a yard stick £7m divided by our agency’s hourly rate (which is £100 by the way), would mean that we would need to have invested 70,000 team hours into this project. That’s 8750 days, or, 23.97 years worth of time.

I suspect the agency who did the work charges more than £100 per hour. Maybe they charge £700 per hour – even then the numbers don’t add up… 10,000 hours, 1250 days, or 3.42 years worth of time.

Ok, so we know it’s also not down to one person to deliver all the work, but I doubt it was more than a small team. So even when you apply this to the equation, it still makes no sense.

In my 40 years of working in this industry, I don’t think I’ve met a single Marketing Director who would see that as good value, maybe I’m too small fry, who knows? Maybe I don’t rub shoulders with clients whose pockets are so deep and budgets so big it doesn’t matter what they spend.

A collage of bbc shows, personalities and staff

For me, it comes down to time and value. Something that any of the agencies I have had the pleasure to work for has had to justify all of their lives.

Time is an agency’s currency and the value they add lies in the talent they employ to deliver the right work for the client.

So let’s look again at that £7m… as agency hours, because that’s what I have to do every day to justify the work we provide for our customers and get a project cost signed off, or a monthly agency fee justified.

OK, here goes… we have brand strategy, so let’s assume a number of hours for a brand planner to do their research and think about who the audience is and what the brand stands for (maybe this is a given as the Beeb is already pretty well established…).

Then we have the creative brief, weeks of the creative team’s thoughts, ideas, scamps, visuals, review meetings and finally… a set of polished visuals the agency is proud to ‘show and tell’ to the client. The big reveal, the creative presentation.

Assuming that goes well, and the client gets that warm fuzzy feeling when they see their newly proposed creative work, the new identity needs to be developed so that it works ‘multi channel’ and as ‘brand in use’. In the Beeb’s case that’s all kinds of things from how it looks on the telly, to how it appears on an App, website, internal comms and probably a T shirt. The logo will need to animate and work on all their own channels, from Sport, News and Weather to iPlayer and Sounds..

That’s a lot of design and artwork hours, but how many exactly did it take? I can’t answer that, but the agency who did the work can, would they share that info? I doubt it.

In a nutshell, I can’t see that the task was much more than I’ve flippantly described above, and it will boil down to ‘agency time’ to deliver the work.

The new logos are very nice… you can see them here.

Hats off the agency who did this work, nice profit chaps.

Christine Colbert