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ESPN

ESPN+ Brand Identity Sizzle

Context

Continuous collaboration with ESPN to develop multi-platform branding, design systems, and creative campaigns that highlight unmissable content and drive engagement with all types of sports fans.

Strategy

Elevate the fan experience across touchpoints and marketing by delivering internal tools that empower ESPN teams to make their content more accessible, exciting, and meaningful.

Solution

A robust brand identity for ESPN+ charts a course for the brand’s streaming future, while recent packaging and promos for “Outside the Lines,” “The Undefeated: In Depth,” the NCAA National Championships, and others support individual brands within the ESPN ecosystem.

ESPN+

Design Strategy

Developing a dynamic, digital-first identity for a new generation of diverse, inclusive, cord-cutting sports fans.

Building off the DNA of the ESPN masterbrand, we worked for over a year with Disney Streaming Services to develop a robust style guide and flexible visual identity designed to help ESPN+ change the game in the sports streaming arena. This wasn’t just about a new color palette, logo standards, or typography guidelines—it was about establishing a new creative ecosystem custom-built for a new era of digital fandom. From a suite of screen-friendly gradients to an in-depth library of iterative digital display ads, we gave ESPN+ all the tools it needs to stand out from its parent brand while aligning with exacting design standards of its sister platforms, Hulu and Disney+.

ESPN+ Brand Strategy

Messaging Strategy

An array of strategic, voice, and messaging guidelines introduced the ESPN+ offering across platforms and fandoms.

While we were creating the visual identity, our strategists also worked with the ESPN+ marketing team to develop a fresh brand positioning, pillars, persona, and voice that could clearly communicate its offering to three distinct audience types and reduce confusion with the ESPN parent brand. Drawing inspiration from ESPN’s award-winning POV at the intersection of sports and culture, we also created a robust, easy-to-use messaging framework for the streaming platform covering headlines, CTAs, button copy, and more designed to bring fans deeper into the world of sports.

Motion Identity

Harnessing the depth, speed, and energy of ESPN with a unique motion language designed specifically for sports streaming.

Finally, we put the ESPN+ brand into motion, developing a robust toolkit of logo animations, sizzles, transitions, navigation elements, and more, custom-built for a commercial-free streaming environment. Using the iconic “speedline” in the ESPN logo as a starting point, we developed a motion language that delivers energetic, dynamic pacing with compelling graphics that look great on all screen sizes while still feeling unmistakably like an epic sports brand. The result is a dynamic, versatile video package that can showcase a wide array of ESPN content—from live games to original documentaries that are just the beginning when it comes to the brand’s future sports streaming portfolio.

The Undefeated: In-Depth

ESPN The Undefeated In Depth title design
ESPN The Undefeated In Depth Serena Willians

Title Design

“In Depth” is a digital series that features top athletes discussing deeply personal experiences about inequality in sports.

For the show’s opening titles, we designed a layered visual narrative using archival footage, audio and bold typography that helped elevate The Undefeated’s new content series while appealing to a diverse audience of sports enthusiasts.

ESPN The Undefeated In Depth Serena Williams
ESPN The Undefeated In Depth Serena Williams

Show Graphics

We also delivered an easy-to-use graphic toolkit for upcoming episodes.

The minimalist design system we created for the show’s cable premiere uses type over closely cropped imagery to capture the intimacy of the show’s one-on-one premise. Nuanced packaging is designed to take viewers beyond the scores and highlight reels to the complex intersections of sports, identity, politics, and culture.

NCAA Championships

ESPN NCAA whos in

Creative Context

Teasing the finale of every touchdown, tailgate, and total fan thing leading up to the biggest game in college football.

Working with ESPN’s ad agency McKinney, we helped design and animate an elaborate, type-driven promo indulging in all of the emotionally-charged, real-life moments college football fans go through in a season. In the spot, typography physically interacts with footage from scene to scene, taking viewers through a series of tight visual metaphors, feelings, and reactions—giving an extra layer of meaning to the script that’s both hilariously relatable and deeply impactful.

ESPN NCAA touch up

Scaling The Campaign

Animators had to stay quick and nimble to accommodate a variety of lengths and mini-narratives for every platform.

While our design team was encouraged to think deeper about the words they were animating, they also had to keep in mind tight time constraints for the spot. How do you tell a compelling, type-driven story in 30 seconds? What about 15? How about 6? In each cutdown, we relied on a number of creative and technical solves to help keep things moving while still imbuing the spot with the emotion it needed to resonate.

Black Athletes Making History

ESPN Black Athletes Making History

Creative Context

Designing with impact for ESPN’s Black History Month takeover.

In 2019, we partnered once again with ESPN for a cross-platform Black History Month takeover, designing opening titles, graphics packages and logo animations for a variety of linear, digital, and social content. Our modular Black Athletes Making History package was punctuated by the primetime debut of Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete, a TV special presented by The Undefeated, and a video vignette series telling the story of how sports figures have used their platforms to improve their communities and the world.

ESPN Black Athletes Making History Unapologetic

Motion Toolkits

We delivered a variety of animation toolkits to support ESPN in-house as they explored and created history.

Our opening titles for BAMH borrow their look from the print world, where bold compositions help present bold narratives from the likes of Warrick Dunn, Kevin Durant, Derek Jeter, Simone Biles, and A.J. Andrews. We used typography and photography as graphic devices, helping transition the titles from scene to scene and athlete to athlete, magnetically snapping to an invisible grid that’s both suitably retro and fascinatingly fresh for the sports documentary genre. We designed toolkits to be fully modular, empowering ESPN’s in-house teams to easily augment the takeover across its linear, digital, and social platforms.

Outside The Lines

ESPN Outside The Lines with Bob Ley
ESPN Outside The Lines with Bob Ley

Title Design

ESPN’s award-winning series “Outside the Lines” reports on controversial news across the world of sports.

To create the opening title sequence, we created a layered portrait of the show’s past and present legacy, with glimpses into some of its most explosive stories and the invaluable reporting of its long-time anchor, Bob Ley.

ESPN Outside The Lines with Bob Ley logo design
ESPN Outside The Lines with Bob Ley set design

Show Package

The show toolkit demonstrates that sports entertainment branding doesn’t need decorative 3D to have a big impact.

Instead, the show’s logo, bumpers, lower-thirds, teases, transitions, and other motion accents are supported by a visual language based in analog photography, journalistic symbols, and hand-written playbooks. The result is a visually-enhanced viewer experience that boldly stands out from similarly-themed series.

Services

Brand Strategy –– Design Strategy –– Visual Identity –– Logo Design –– Graphic Design –– Animation –– Title Design –– Copywriting –– Editing –– Post-Production –– Brand Guidelines –– Motion Guidelines –– Animation Toolkits –– Toolkits

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