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NBC’s New Logo: Peacock Goes Solo, ‘N’ Dumped

May 19, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC’s peacock, which has shared corporate billing with the letter ″N″ for several years, is flying solo as the network’s new logo. In an unpublicized move, the ″N″ was unceremoniously dumped.

The new symbol has six feathers instead of 11 and the bird’s head now faces to the viewers’ right, rather than left, said Bud Rukeyser, NBC’s executive vice president for corporate communications.

The deposed ″N,″ controversial in itself when it was unveiled in the 1970s and eventually uncovered as the same symbol as Nebraska public television, will move into logo retirement, joining the Olympic rings that were incorporated into ABC’s visual identity before the 1984 Olympics.

In an interview Monday, Rukeyser referred to the former NBC symbol as ″the proud N.″

NBC’s new logo actually was unveiled May 12 during the broadcast of ″NBC’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.″ It now is NBC’s regular symbol on the air and official network stationery. Rukeyser said old letterheads still may be used by NBC staffers. The proud ″N″ is not entirely in disfavor, he noted.

In full-color glory, the new peacock also will be engraved next month into NBC’s corporate headquarters in New York, welcoming all visitors.

″A logo is not meant to be changed frequently,″ Rukeyser said. ″This new logo, we anticipate, will be our new logo indefinitely.″

Rukeyser said former NBC President Fred Silverman had wanted to get rid of the ″N,″ but he himself was ousted in 1981 before a full logo change could be made. As the third-place network, NBC had more serious problems than its logo-identity crisis.

″It was a combination of NBC doing well and our 60th anniversary, so it seemed like a good time to straighten this thing out,″ Rukeyser said.

During Silverman’s tenure, the peacock, which had been NBC parent company RCA’s symbol for color TV, was combined with the ″N.″ (In a settlement, NBC had paid Nebraska public TV for rights to the ″N.″)

″But it really was a design nightmare,″ Rukeyser said.

Rukeyser said the rounded peacock and the hard-edged ″N″ caused visual design conflicts and that the detail of 11 feathers, when reduced in size, caused it to become unrecognizable as a peacock. Now, the six feathers reduce better and they all will have different colors, one for each of NBC’s six broadcast divisions.

Rukeyser said the the design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar Associates, working under Silverman’s direction, actually had started creating the solo peacock symbol. When Silverman resigned under pressure in 1981, the plans were locked in a vault.

″We just asked Chermayeff & Geismar to finish it up,″ Rukeyser said. ″As a company in a visual medium, it’s important to have a quality symbol. The right look is more important to NBC than it would be for a manufacturing company.″

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