How Nickelodeon’s splat was created

Nickelodeon is bringing back its nostalgic splat logo.  (Photo: Illustration by Aisha Yousaf for Yahoo/Photo: Getty Images, Everett Collection)

Nickelodeon is bringing back its nostalgic splat logo. (Photo: Illustration by Aisha Yousaf for Yahoo/Photo: Getty Images, Everett Collection)

Shows like Double dare And Clarisse explains everything to you are the stuff of childhoods, especially for now-adult viewers who turned to the cable channel in the ’80s and ’90s. And it wasn’t just the shows on Nickelodeon — a channel that was an anomaly in what it was all about kids — but ads from the Cabler and other brands, which often included a splatter of orange paint.

Although it disappeared in 2009, Nick announced last month that the nostalgic splat was back!

Here is the whimsical story of the origin of this iconic logo:

In the early 1980s, Scott Nash, fresh out of design school, found himself on a flight to meet the executives of the fledgling children’s cable channel, Nickelodeon. He and a former teacher, Tom Corey, had been commissioned to develop logos.

“We had, in retrospect, some really bad ideas,” Nash told Yahoo Entertainment. “One of them was…because they belonged to MTV, we were going to find something that was the equivalent of NTV. And instead of having the ever-changing M, we thought we were going to transform the N in a door, which… sort of greets the kids and lets us into the world of Nickelodeon. But that was a really short-sighted idea, and one that I wasn’t comfortable with .

‘I don’t know!’

Although they had very with little time to spare, they decided to throw away what they had and start over.

“So Tom and I, on the flight to meet Fred [Seibert] and Alan [Goodman]”, who were in charge of Nickelodeon’s rebranding in 1984, five years after its launch, “were sketching everything we could,” says Nash. “We were just sketching. Tom said, “Well, what do you really want to do about this?” I said, “I think a children’s network shouldn’t have any particular form.” I think that should change constantly.”

An iteration of this evolving logo would be the splat, which was already part of Nickelodeon lore, thanks to one of its early programs, You can’t do this on TV, on which child stars were regularly slimed down with green slime thrown from above whenever they said, “I don’t know.” So the splat was a no-brainer, and they quickly found more.

“And we presented these rough sketches, one of which was on a cup of coffee that we were given, because I was out of paper,” Nash explains. “And we actually presented the sketches that we did on the plane… We basically threw the proposal that we were going to present to Fred and Alan, and showed them a bunch of sketches made with Sharpies. That was a revelation for me because, again, I was nervous as a young designer to show something so raw, but Fred especially embraced the idea, he was very enthusiastic about it.

The splat logo was born.

And while there were ultimately plenty of Nick logos used – the zeppelin, which Nash designed and became the shape of the trophies at the Kids’ Choice Awards; a cow; and a dog bone, for example – paint splatters have become a favorite. Nash recalls that the product division was particularly fond of the splat. For people responsible for making t-shirts, toys, and other branded products, the logo needed to be consistent; They were trying to build a brand identity.

Nash says his team first considered whether the splash color should be green or orange.

“We kind of got information about what colors adults liked least at the time. And lime green was one color. The other color was orange, and we went with orange because green is a key color,” says Nash, explaining that green-screens often used for backgrounds in this era were blue or, well, green. “And so we weren’t allowed to do that. We couldn’t use green as the logo color, and so it became orange.”

They settled on Pantone 021, the vibrant orange that just screams “FUN!”

Nash notes that everyone involved had a creative energy that comes with working on something fresh, new, and dynamic. It was an exciting time. He describes some of what they created back then as “groundbreaking,” a word he says is overused but appropriate here.

The splat has remained a part of the network’s identity as hits such as The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats And Hi guy traveled.

New episodes of

New episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show aired on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1996. (Photo: Everett Collection)

“And so, for years,” Nash says, “we were very proud of the Nickelodeon logo. We thought it was a new kind of graphic identity. We called the logo a flexi-logo. It’s not a logo. It’s a logo that’s infused with creativity, because it can change and morph. And the various iterations that we’ve seen over the years through the creative services department and everyone who’s worked with it, it’s It was really rewarding to see what people would do with this idea that Tom and I practically hatched on a plane heading to New York.”

In Matthew Klickstein’s 2013 book Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, Scott Webb, Nick’s first creative director, went so far as to cite the late professor-turned-business partner of Nash as one of the people most responsible for the network’s eventual success. The splat had been everything.

The guys who had created the Nickelodeon logo were suddenly in demand, and they continued to create images for Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, FX and more. Nick continued to use the splat until the end of the years, when, according to Varietyits parent company decided to connect all of the Nickelodeon brands—Nick at Nite, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., and TeenNick—using matching tiny logos for each of them.

“Asking ourselves if anything could live under the splat,” network honcho Cyma Zarghami said at the time, “we decided the splat was dated. It just couldn’t be done in a streamlined way.”

Nick got a new look and then, last month, an old one, in a time when throwbacks are all the rage. Reboots or revivals of TV hits from the days of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush are commonplace. The new version of the splat will live alongside new episodes of Are you scared of the dark? And All that.

And it’s not just about Nick, of course. TV shows elsewhere, as well as movies, music, fashion and more remind us of when we feared the year 2000.

Revisiting “everything from Nickelodeon”

Nash, who went on to illustrate more than 50 children’s books, teach and start the Illustration Institute to promote appreciation of illustration as an art form, was thrilled, “It’s nice to see him back! “

Nickelodeon unveiled an updated splat logo in May 2023. (Photo: Nickelodeon)

Nickelodeon unveiled an updated splat logo in May 2023. (Photo: Nickelodeon)

He complimented the 2023 look, which he says isn’t something designed by him or Corey.

“They’re smartly doing something new with the splat. They’re using it behind the type,” Nash notes. “That was one of the challenges with the idea that we came up with is that whatever orange shape had the word Nickelodeon in it had to be sort of shaped like a football. It had to be at pretty much oval, because Nickelodeon is a really long word and whoever designed the new stuff, I think, cleverly took the shape of the splat or the dynamics of the splat and put it behind the typography.” All in all, it’s “very simplified”.

Sabrina Caluori, executive vice president of global kids and family marketing for Nickelodeon, said advertising week that it was time to “revisit all of Nickelodeon’s tunes”, after internal research showed that “basic DNA” continues to delight children.

In addition to the splat, Nickelodeon is also bringing back its once-ubiquitous barbershop quartet.

You can almost hear this catchy theme song from Doug stand in line.

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