Respect: the key to successful brand evolution

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Author: Coordinate

The world was recently swept up in Olympic Games fever—watching the world’s best athletes at the peak of their condition has provided welcome relief from the reality of life in a pandemic.

Indeed, sport is an integral part of our national identity—inspiring, motivating and bringing people together—but it’s also tribal. Australians are fiercely loyal to their teams and show their belonging by wearing their colours and symbols on their clothes, flags—even faces, in the case of the CBR Brave! So when it comes to branding sporting teams, the stakes are high.

Coordinate’s Creative Director, Logan Knight, has led the evolution of some of Canberra’s biggest sporting brands, and says respecting the past is critical.

“Being trusted to refresh an existing sporting brand is a privilege—and we really do feel the pressure to do right by the fans,” says Logan.

“We know that these brands come with a history, and are part of how people see themselves, so we never forget the emotional connection.”

Ahead of the 2019/20 Australian Baseball League season, Coordinate was engaged by the Canberra Cavalry to review and redefine their brand in celebration of their 10th anniversary while paying reverence to the heritage and history of the franchise. The aim was to position the Cavalry as Canberra’s premier summer sports team, increase membership and sponsorship, and position the brand for the future.

“Working collaboratively with the Cavalry community, we built a contemporary brand to proudly reflect the team’s essence, values and culture that was applied across team uniforms, merchandise, social templates and an inspiring membership campaign,” says Logan.

“We leveraged the Americana aesthetic of minor league baseball while dialling up The Cavalry’s history, and retained the horse motif—it had a new energy, but felt like home to people straight away.”

In basic terms, branding is the set of ideas we have about a particular business or product. The logo is the thing that connects everybody.

“Logo design has some really simple rules—it has to be simple, it has to be memorable, it has to be appropriate,” says Logan.

“The design challenge is how to make it usable and accessible for everybody—how do you keep it simple enough but imbue it with enough meaning? And how does it relate back to the core idea of the brand?”.

In 2019, Coordinate partnered with the University of Canberra Capitals, to redefine their brand and instil a revitalised culture within their franchise. The result was ‘Go Big”.

“The UC Caps are a proud, prestigious, record-breaking basketball team that has trailblazed women’s sport on a local, national and international level since 1984. So, from day one we had one goal: acknowledge their past, honour their city and cement their legacy,” says Logan.

So how do you design a logo for Canberra’s most successful national sporting team?

“I initially didn’t want to use a basketball in the logo at all, because 75% of the NBA teams’ brands have basketballs in them and it’s not something you see a lot in Australian sporting brands. But in the end, I thought if anyone can ‘own’ basketball, it’s the Caps,” says Logan.

Look a little closer and you’ll see hints of the iconic Telstra Tower in the logo, with the previous orange swapped out for gold.

“I felt that they’d earned that gold because they set the benchmark.”

Coordinate developed a new logo suite, uniforms, merchandise, season branding, social media templates and a membership campaign as part of the rebrand.

“But the idea of ‘going big’ not only related to what they do on the court, but as a whole—and I think this brand revitalisation is the best example I’ve seen of an organisation taking the essence of their brand across their entire culture and everything they do.”

Want more? See our corporate sports branding work with Aus cycling and Australian Athletics.