Public Broadcasting Service Logo

Public Broadcasting Service Logo

Although the Public Broadcasting Service has gone trough a succession of logotypes, in fact, almost all of them have been built around the so-called P-Head.

Meaning and history

Public Broadcasting Service Logo history

The US Public Broadcasting Service was established in 1952 as the National Educational Television and Radio Center. The most distinctive of its four logos was probably the one with a stylized depiction of a house.

The first Public Broadcasting Service logo introduced after the service adopted its current name (1970) was just a wordmark in red, yellow, and blue on a black background. As soon as in 1971, though, a new emblem created by Herb Lubalin was introduced. The design featured the letter “P” resembling a human face, while the shape of the letters “B” and “S” was almost regular. The emblem nicknamed the “Tri-Colored Everyman P-Heads” also comprised the full name of the company in the ITC Avant Garde Gothic type, also developed by Lubalin.

Symbol in 1984-2001

pbs symbol

In 1984, the logo went black and white, while the head was turned so that it faced forward. The design developed by Chermayeff & Geismar also featured two additional facial outlines (a white one and a black one).

In the 1998 version, the logo was placed inside a black circle. The 2002 redesign resulted in altered proportions.

The 2009 emblem

PBS emblem

The PBS logo consists of the three elements: a roundel emblem (the official brand guidelines call it a “shield”), the wordmark, and the legal registration symbol. The shield represents the white human head on the black background. The letters “PBS” are placed either on the left, or below.


PBS logo

Although the company states its official typeface is PBS Explorer, the logotype actually features a different font. The logo font is a perfectly legible serif type with slightly unusual serifs, while PBS Explorer is a sans serif type. The current logo font was designed by Chermayeff & Geismar specifically for PBS in 1984.


Public Broadcasting Service Logo Color

While some of the earlier versions included lively colors, the current Public Broadcasting Service logo comprises the white symbol on the black background. The 3D version of the logotype involves grey and white nuances.