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Fluid typography: transforming letterforms in television idents

Barbara Brownie (School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Article publication date: 5 October 2015




The purpose of this paper is to propose that, within the practice of motion branding, transforming type has been largely neglected by existing theorists and its importance to wider marketing trends overlooked. It will be observed that previous texts on transitional letterforms have tended to focus on changes in global arrangement and in doing so have neglected to recognise the significance of changes that occur at a local level, within individual letterforms.


Taking an interdisciplinary approach, with examples including idents and bumpers from Channel 4, Sky, FOX, Five and MTV. New methods of understanding these artefacts will be introduced, with emphasis on how they affect the relationship between broadcaster’s identities and the medium of television. Modes of definition and understanding that have previously been applied to holographic poetry will be applied to the field of on-screen artefacts.


The paper will discuss how branding has adapted to incorporate the features of the medium of television, and propose new methods of classification for the associated processes of metamorphosis, construction, parallax and revelation.


Motion branding, in the form of television idents, is frequently described as containing “motion typography”, but this and related terminology is vague or misleading – and reduces all forms of kineticism to simple motion. On-screen branding often operates more complex temporal behaviours. Lack of sufficient vocabulary to describe such transformations has forced practitioners to describe their work in terms of previously existing work, thereby limiting the perceived scope of their ideas and the possibility of innovation. This paper resolves the lack of existing vocabulary by providing new definitions of four categories of fluid transformation that appear in contemporary television idents.



Brownie, B. (2015), "Fluid typography: transforming letterforms in television idents", Arts and the Market, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 154-167.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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