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.