CRAFT: The man who made TV sponsorship idents sexy - PROFILE/Martin Lambie-Nairn has changed far more than TV logos, Belinda Archer says
By BELINDA ARCHER, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 13 June 1997 12:00AM
Think of an offbeat TV station ident, and you can bet your state-of-the-art technology it was created by Martin Lambie-Nairn, the recipient of this year’s D&AD president’s award.
Think of an offbeat TV station ident, and you can bet your
state-of-the-art technology it was created by Martin Lambie-Nairn, the
recipient of this year’s D&AD president’s award.
From BBC2’s Bafta award-winning series of fluffy, jumping,
paint-spattered three-dimensional 2s, to Bravo’s retro feel to Norway’s
TV Norge on-screen looks, Lambie-Nairn was there. He won the Queen’s
Award for Export Achievement in 1995, as well as the Royal Television
Society Judges’ Award - the poshest in the annual RTS Craft and Design
Awards - for 30 years of creativity - in the same year.
Having been a president of D&AD, from 1990-1991, he is particularly
pleased with his latest accolade. ’The skills in advertising, design and
TV should overlap. I have been trying to fuse the advertising
disciplines of strategic planning and brand understanding with design
and TV. This is a recognition of that,’ he says.
Lambie-Nairn, 52, trained in graphic design at the Canterbury College of
Art before taking up his first position, in 1965, as an assistant
designer at the BBC.
He launched Robinson Lambie-Nairn, his first company, in 1976, after a
string of well-placed posts, as an art director for Terence Conran at
Conran Associates, a senior designer at ITN, overseeing the changeover
to colour, and a designer at LWT.
In 1981 Lambie-Nairn conceived and financed the start-up of the
satirical puppet show, Spitting Image, after the idea came to him ’over
He set up Lambie-Nairn and Company in 1990, acting as creative director
and designing specifically for TV. It has been renamed Lambie-Nairn and
now styles itself a branding specialist.
Lambie-Nairn hit upon what was to prove a profitable niche after
witnessing a presentation made by a BMP DDB planner to Anglia
Television, which had brought him in to help with a logo rethink. ’We
were being asked to think of just TV logos, and decisions were based on,
say, whether the client liked pink, and it was an unsatisfactory way of
working because it was totally subjective. Then I sat in on this
presentation, which was fascinating, because it was strategic and
involved changing the entire identity. We realised then that we had to
embrace planning into the way we worked,’ he recalls.
Lambie-Nairn developed a product that was about planning, strategy,
design and results, rather than tweaking logos and ignoring other
Mike Dempsey, the D&AD president who nominated him for the latest award,
says: ’Martin changed the face of TV idents because he takes a long time
before considering an identity. He wants total understanding of the
corporation and does a lot of groundwork. He is importing the
infrastructure of advertising into the world of design, by doing lots of
work on the project before thinking of the creative idea.’
Lambie-Nairn’s first ident was for Channel 4. He admits it was a ’basic
design job’, but it worked because it was unified, it worked on and off
screen - and it moved. The whole process has become more sophisticated
and harmonised, however, with Lambie-Nairn and his team offering an
all-embracing branding proposition.
This proposition has unnerved adland somewhat - particularly after his
company was hired by the satellite TV channel, EBN, to create an ad
campaign last year.
’People got nervous about that, but we are very happy to work with
agencies. I do not believe that to manage a TV brand more tightly and
concisely, it should be handled under one roof - I’m just saying it
should be managed properly, so that any expressions of the brand do not
get fragmented,’ he insists.
TV branding forms only part of what Lambie-Nairn does. He now has three
companies - Tutssels, a graphic design house, Lambie-Nairn, the brand
identity company, and LND, a commercials production company which
specialises in live action, comedy and visual effects.
Lambie-Nairn has directed a number of commercials, including the Hamlet
send-up of the Channel 4 logo from Collett Dickenson Pearce, which won a
Lion d’Or at Cannes in 1985.
Lambie-Nairn welcomes the change his work has brought about in the TV
industry. ’The discipline started to happen with the launch of Channel
5, because what was on screen was also on the poster sites,’ he
He did pitch for the Channel 5 launch, but was beaten to it. But would
he have chosen the Spice Girls? ’God no. I wouldn’t have known who they
were. I would have thought they were from Sri Lanka,’ he jokes.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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