Create a fresh look for one of the world’s biggest sporting events: The Ashes. No biggie, right?
For years, its branding had been sponsor-driven, varying wildly from year to year. The England & Wales Cricket Board wanted to establish a continuity for the brand – but it also needed to reflect the look & feel of different sponsors over time.
Oh, and one final thing: we couldn’t use the image of the Ashes urn itself!
Style Guide Development
The Ashes is one event but has multiple stakeholders: The England & Wales Cricket Board, Lords Cricket Ground, and Marylebone Cricket Club. Each had different priorities. So we started by interviewing them all to tease out what was really important. From there we created a reverse-brief that encompassed the non-negotiables.
Designing a brand that could be consistent while changing seemed a contradiction, but we reasoned it could be resolved by approaching it as a question of brand architecture. If we could create an identity that had a robust structure of strong visual elements, these could be retained from Ashes to Ashes as a visual signature of the event, while the dressing of those elements could be adjusted to reflect different sponsors and give freshness.
Our proposed new identity created a shield lock-up framed by strong vertical and horizontal elements. This structure, and the Ashes font, would remain consistent across series. Meanwhile the colour of the shield could change to reflect the sponsor’s brand, and the dressing of the vertical axis could be varied for freshness. So the stylised wickets forming the vertical for the 2009 series, became a cricket bat for the 2013 series…
Our solution was signed off within two months, a full 16 months ahead of the previous campaign. We then rolled out assets including a brand and consumer products style guide, event collateral, a range of on-screen match graphics used during the telecast, and print advertisements.
We would go on to work on the next two Ashes series.