The human eye is an incredible thing. A healthy one can distinguish up to a million different colors and we put that ability to the test every day in a million ways.
When the Sabres face off with the Rangers in this January’s Winter Classic, they will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of NHL’s incredible outdoor game series that celebrates the roots of hockey heritage.
We were again thrilled to work with NHL’s VP Creative, Paul Conway, to develop the identity for this event that faced an interesting combination of challenges that made for a unique solution.
The first consideration was the venue. Citi Field–located in Queens, NYC–was the host venue while it will technically be a Sabres home game, so we needed to strike the right balance.
Secondly, celebrating the 10th anniversary of this extremely popular event would need to be given an appropriate level of recognition and be integral to the branding system. The duel challenge was to honor two team cities and a 10th anniversary in a single mark and extended branding program.
While many approaches were explored, through research, we discovered that in the early years of hockey, both Buffalo, New York and New York City simultaneously built important iconic buildings in the Art Deco architectural style. Buffalo built City Hall, Central Terminal, the Rand Building and many more distinguished examples, while in New York, we saw dozens of buildings including the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Chrysler Building appear on the cityscape.
Establishing a link between the two cities through a shared architecture style at the same point in NHL's history allowed us to build a program that draws from Art Deco's rich vernacular of polished metals, vertical geometric forms and familiar motifs such as the scalloped frame, to present images of the Empire State as well as represent the roman “X” as an integrated beveled metallic object in the same Deco style.
Through much thumbnail sketching and proportioning of elements, we finally arrived at the optimum balance of components that we felt was successful.
The colors were influenced by New York State’s seal and flag. The secondary typography was influenced by art deco styles and contrast the evolving “Winter” script that has been a permanent part of each Winter Classic identity since the inaugural game in Buffalo on January 1, 2008.
Press Conference Unveiling at Citi Field
Thanks again to the NHL and Paul Conway for their invaluable leadership and collaboration.
NHL will host it’s 9th Winter Classic outdoor game in St. Louis this January. Sometimes a place presents an obvious visual connection that just simply cannot be ignored. The St. Louis Arch was constructed just two years before the 1967 NHL expansion that brought the Blues onto the ice in it’s shadow.
With the 2016 Winter Classic being played in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on this New Year's day, the branding challenge was to consider all relevant influences starting with the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, the venue, the essence of the region, and last but not least, hockey’s heritage which is, of course, at the very heart of what the NHL Winter Classic celebrates.
While the initial “ask” may be for a primary logo design, we find that we approach a marquee event brand more thematically. We have typically developed several broad concepts in the form of "flavor boards" before we even begin to contemplate a “logo” per se. It front-loads our creative effort, but by working in this manner–and with a good creative director–we establish a sustainable branding platform that can support not only a primary logo, but a 30+page style guide with all of its logo iterations, theme art and associated graphics.
We worked closely with NHL's creative director, Paul Conway and pursued a number of conceptual approaches, but the concept that ultimately resonated with all of us was capturing the broader essence of historic New England in winter. We wanted the visuals to answer this basic question: What would it look and feel like to watch an afternoon hockey game on a frozen lake in last century New England?
We had photographed the weathered wood of barns and outbuildings that you might see near an iced pond on a countryside farm. We also photographed the signature wooden signage seen throughout New England in front of pubs and roadhouses. While the visual concept was really quite simple, it embodies a time and space that feels right at home with the Bruins and Canadians facing off under a crisp blue sky in Foxboro, Massachusetts on New Year’s day.
Bill Frederick will be speaking on developing marquee event brands at the Teams'15 Conference in Las Vegas. His talk will focus on branding strategies that scale from very large properties to much smaller sporting events.
Bill Frederick is principal and creative director at Fanbrandz, a specialized firm that provides branding programs and style guides for clients all across the professional sports world. Clients include Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, the U.S. Tennis Association and NASCAR. Frederick’s event branding programs include more than two decades working with MLB's Design Services on All-Star games identities, over a decade of MLB Postseason and World Series programs, the NHL’s recent editions of the Winter Classic, Stadium Series and Heritage Classics, the NBA All-Star Game, the MLS All-Star Game, the MLS Cup and many more. Fanbrandz was a CLIO awards winner in 2014 and 2015.
"How to Manage your Event Brand"
A overview and preview of Teams'15 talk.
Teams’15 is the world’s leading conference and expo for the sports-event industry. Presented by SportsTravel magazine, TEAMS ’15 will be held November 9-12, 2015, in Las Vegas. Launched in 1998, TEAMS attracts more than 1,400 attendees including CEOs, executive directors and event managers from sports organizations as well as representatives from sports commissions and convention bureaus, corporate sponsors, event suppliers and other hospitality industry opinion leaders. Now in its 18th year, TEAMS has helped define the sports-event and appointment-based trade show industries.
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Fanbrandz is very proud of our most recent collaboration with the NHL and VP of Creative Services, Paul Conway to develop the 2016 Winter Classic identity program. This is our sixth Winter Classic identity program and recently won a CLIO for this past year’s 2015 Winter Classic identity played in Washington D.C.
With the 2016 game being played between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, home of the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution, our challenge was to capture both the essence of the region and reference a time when ice hockey was played on frozen ponds and lakes.
The development took us down a number of paths, but what resonated for everyone was capturing the essence of historic New England and it’s “wicked” winters and historic taverns.
Inspired by a signature signage style seen throughout the New England region and a sense of the weathered wood of barns and outbuildings found near icy ponds, the identity embodies a time and space that belongs to a New Year’s day in Foxboro, Massachusetts where two formidable teams face off under an open sky. Below is an overview of our inspiration and creative process.
Fanbrandz is pleased to celebrate a Bronze CLIO Award for our creative collaboration with NHL. Our award came in the Event Logo Identity category.
Our studio was honored once again to work with Paul Conway, VP NHL Creative on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Additional credit goes to our Creative Director Bill Frederick and Senior Designer, Michael Raisch for their creative efforts on the project. To view some of the activation and development process from the 2015 Winter Classic, please visit our Work page and view the HOW Design article covering the behind the scenes branding process in their story ‘Branding the Winter Classic’
Thanks to the judges and everyone at CLIO Sports who participated in the second edition of the event! All of the CLIO winners can be viewed here.