BBC Desert Island Discs

We rebranded Britain's oldest radio programme.

Desert Island Discs, a flagship programme of BBC Radio 4, has been broadcast since 1942. In that time, more than 3,000 guests have shared which eight recordings, book and luxury item they would take with them if they were ‘cast away’.

An eclectic and diverse mix of guests from across entertainment, the arts, science and politics, illustrious castaways include Sir David Attenborough, Tracy Emin, Bill Gates and David Beckham. During the interview, the guest recollects the key moments of their life, the people and events that have shaped and inspired them, revealing their life story through music.

The challenge

The brief was to give the brand a refresh, making it fit for purpose in terms of digital activation, programme profile and station branding. We were challenged to convey the purpose and personality of Desert Island Discs in a fresh, contemporary style, that effectively reflects Radio 4’s tone and values,  and to create a new set of brand applications and guidelines for use across digital, TV, print and podcast. The branding was intended to draw in next generation Radio 4 listeners who are smart, switched on and inquisitive, while still having an affinity with the loyal, heartland Radio 4 audience.

The solution

For a programme so grounded in memory and recollections of life’s journey, we found inspiration in the colourful, indistinct watercolours of Marc Chagall. Their moody, dreamlike quality captures the intangible nature of memory and influenced our overarching concept.

We used watercolour to create a photographic style that can easily be applied to all guests and presenters for consistency – past, present and future.

Our choice of type, which references the grooves in a piece of vinyl, is a custom cut inline typeface based on Gil Sans – a reinterpretation of a British classic that, in itself, is a metaphor for the rebrand.

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