Top 10 Australian logos – 10th

Published:  June 18, 2012
Top 10 Australian logos – 10th

As featured in the May 2012 issue of desktop, over the next few weeks, we will be revealing our top 10 Australian logos of all time. Read more about the feature here. All research and writing by Larissa Meikle and Estelle Pigot.

10th place: SBS

The first SBS symbol to hit the screen was a gradient blue and white globe surrounded by the same coloured blue and white ring. It was used across all of SBS’s stations and symbolised transmission of the VHF channel. Channel 0/28 was renamed Network 0-28 in 1983 and this coincided with a new logo that featured the new name directly underneath the globe. In 1985, Network 0-28 was renamed SBS TV and an updated logo featured the letters SBS underneath the globe. In 1989, the trademark was again updated with the globe removed.

Network 0-28 logo, 1983

Introduced in 1991, Ken Cato’s trademark for the multicultural television station was developed by literally opening up the globe. The pointed ellipses of the SBS symbol are a translation of opening up the globe and this is the traditional way of drawing the world, if you flatten it. A clean, strong global message had arrived and it provided a sound platform for the creation of an evolving identity.

According to Cato, the idea behind the trademark came up at a briefing session with SBS. “I’m a great believer that most clients will tell you what they want if you listen carefully enough – they are pretty smart people, but often don’t know how to translate their thoughts into a workable idea,” he says.

The pointed ellipses of the SBS logo are translations of the globe opening up


1991 logo by Ken Cato

SBS director of marketing Jacquie Riddell believes Cato’s logo was incredibly clever. “Ken thought long and hard about it,” she says. “The 23-degree tilted angle of the logo represents the angle in which the earth tilts and the level of detail in which it was designed manifested abstractly and beautifully on screen.”

Because the marque was celebrated for nearly 20 years, Riddell explains that the more recent May 2008 redesign – with the slogan ‘Six Billion Stories and Counting’ – paid homage to Cato’s original creation. “SBS wanted to protect its integrity, so Kevin Finn’s logo design kept the Mercator map and is a more simplified, streamlined version of Cato’s design,” she adds.

Finn’s new typemark design enlisted a lighter-cut Helvetica Neue typeface, which was demerged from the symbol. “One practical issue against keeping SBS inside the Mercator map becomes evident when reducing the identity marque to small sizes, since this compromises legibility and limits minimal size,” Finn explains.

2008 (current) logo by Kevin Finn

“The decision was made to remove the type component from the symbol to help alleviate these limitations, but also to free up the Mercator map icon which, if necessary, can be used without [the letters] SBS,” he says. “In separating the components this eventually allowed us to look at the various sizes and proportions of the Mercator map segments – and this led to the final solution.”

When considering whether the 2008 design adds a new sense of dimension, it’s important to understand that the identity was specifically developed to reflect the current (and future) strategy and purpose of SBS. The strategy was ‘Six Billion Stories and Counting’ – and is now ‘Seven Billion Stories and Counting’. The design was also developed to accommodate multiple platforms, including animation, screen, digital devices and motion.


The 2008 (current) SBS logo in use

Finn adds that the ongoing addition of new media applications brings with it the chance for the logo to have a new sense of dimension. In print and in static form, however, the increasing segments of the Mercator map intentionally prompt the viewer to see a growing world, a growing population, a growing number of stories and a growing programming strategy for SBS.

The following nine logos will be revealed over the next few weeks here on our website. Stay tuned.

Thumbnail image:
Left: 1991 logo by Ken Cato
Right: 2008 (current) logo by Kevin Finn.

From desktop magazine.

3 Responses

  1. Flyn

    I had no idea about the idea behind the mark, thanks for the post this is super interesting.

  2. Wow, loving the story behind this. :)

  3. Bettiy

    I think it’s funny how Ken Cato is on the judging panel for the top 10 Australian Logos

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