DixonBaxi and Pentagram rebrand Eurosport

Eurosport has launched a new visual identity – the first major overhaul of its image in 26 years – designed by Pentagram and DixonBaxi. In this extract from our December issue, Aporva Baxi, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland and brand and creative consultant Federico Gaggio explain the thinking behind the broadcaster’s new look…

Eurosport first aired in 1989, broadcasting events from skiing championships to snooker tournaments to viewers across Europe. It now includes 16 websites and six TV channels, with subscribers in 91 countries.

The brand’s identity has changed little over the years: a refresh in 2011 introduced a new set of idents and some revisions to its logo but the core elements – the word the word Euro in blue and Sport in red, surrounded by a ring of stars – remained much the same.

Today, however, it unveiled a new identity developed by Pentagram and DixonBaxi. The Eurosport logo has been replaced with an E monogram and simplified word mark while new idents by DixonBaxi use quick cuts, extreme close-ups and some visceral sound design by Massive Music to depict a series of sporting moments, from a tennis player preparing to serve, to an athlete taking their place on the starting line of an athletics track.

The rebrand follows media group Discovery’s acquisition of Eurosport, a €491m deal which was completed in October. This summer, Discovery and Eurosport were awarded the television and digital rights to the Olympic Games in Europe from 2018–2024 for €1.3billion, and Eurosport’s VP of marketing Antonio Ruiz says there is “a long-term initiative to re-ignite the brand” with more exclusive events, higher production values and “more relevant content” for viewers in different markets.

The rebrand was carried out in response to market research, which revealed that while perceptions of Eurosport were generally positive, audiences weren’t always aware of what the broadcaster had to offer, says Federico Gaggio, consultant to Eurosport on brand and creative strategy, and formerly VP brand and executive creative director at Discovery. “We had to address some questions like ‘are we still as relevant now as we were 25 years ago and is our audience as broad as we would like it to be?’ and the answer was no,” he says.

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Eurosport’s new logo and E monogram. A single star provides a nod to the ring of stars in the brand’s previous identity

While Eurosport broadcasts popular events including Tennis Grand Slams, the Tour de France and the Moto GP, it has not traditionally bid for premium priced rights such as premiership football, leading to a perception among some viewers that it only showed lesser-known sporting events or more niche content. “One of the key findings was also around ad breaks,” adds Gaggio. “People don’t like too many interruptions when they’re watching live sports and there was some criticism around the quality of ad breaks, so we needed to make that experience better,” he explains.

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Eurosport’s identity in use on mugs and stationery. Corporate communications will use the brand’s navy and red colour palette, while a secondary palette of brighter colours will be used on merchandise

The brief for the project was initially split into three: strategy, identity and on-air branding. Sid Lee worked with Eurosport to develop a strategy based on the idea of sport as a unifying experience, and its role as a brand which connects people with the sports they love. “The essence of it was the idea of teaming up, connecting fans and athletes, and that has informed a lot of the creative work,” says Gaggio. Pentagram was assigned responsibility for creating the logo, brand hierarchy, identity style guide and merchandising, while DixonBaxi worked on the creative strategy and on and off-air branding, including ad campaigns. The two agencies collaborated on key elements however, such as the logo, monogram and typography guidelines.

“It’s quite a complex job in that there isn’t just one core brand mark,” explains Pentagram’s Angus Hyland. “There are several channel and product identifiers, and different parts of the organisation are responsible for the production of different products, so it leads into brand architecture, how that is manifest across the organisation, how that evolves into different products going forward and [making sure] that the identity is robust enough to allow for evolution at various points within the organisation,” he adds.

The new logos aim to better connect Eurosport with its new parent company: both the E monogram and word mark feature a single star embedded in an E, a nod to the small blue globe which sits within the D in the Discovery logo. Eurosport’s word mark can now sit above Discovery’s when the company needs to show it is part of the Discovery group – for example, when addressing potential trade partners and advertisers (as shown above).

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Eurosport’s new E monogram in use on merchandise and social media

“A lot of thought went into the endorsement,” adds Gaggio. “There was a need to be clear about the Discovery association, particularly for trade partners, because Discovery is a much bigger platform and it’s very valuable but Eurosport isn’t just a sub-brand of Discovery. It’s a brand in its own right.” The monogram, meanwhile, gives the brand a sportier symbol that can be used on everything from mugs to social media.

The logotype also removes the visual break between Euro and Sport, which Gaggio says was important to reflect the channel’s increasingly international focus. The blue and red colour palette has remained (though the blue is now deeper and the red, more reddish-pink) and a new secondary palette includes bright blue, green and orange. “In a formal sense, we’ll use the full name and core colours and then we’ll have a shorthand marque and more sporty secondary colours for things like merchandising,” adds Pentagram partner Angus Hyland.

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On-air, idents depict a range of different sports and pre-match rituals and aim to capture a sense of excitement and tension. “A lot of sports broadcasters and brands go after certain aspects of sport, and a lot of it is around grandeur. Everything is heroic and iconic and so on, so really for us, it was about breaking out of that way of thinking,” says DixonBaxi’s Aporva Baxi. “We wanted to capture moments aside from the things you typically see in sport such as the winning goal, the match point, crossing the finish line – so these are about preparation, the excitement of fans and the ups and downs of the game.”

With its use of rapid cuts and close-ups, the longer idents place viewers at the heart of the action, offering a more visceral alternative to a carefully composed photoshoot and something more akin to the unrehearsed moments we see in live broadcasting. “Those moments are fleeting and authentic – they’re not heavily art directed. From an image point of view, we were very clear we didn’t want anything to feel too constructed or to have it shot in a studio where it’s lit perfectly and everyone will be frozen in motion. We wanted something more immersive…which would make people feel like they’re there in that moment.” he adds.

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DixonBaxi also created a set of asbtract bumpers for ad breaks. One shows pulsing ferrofluid, reminiscent of the oil in a race car’s engine, while another captures the moment an ice hockey player’s skates hit the ice on a rink. “That was about pushing the camera even further in – what does it feel like inside the engine of a car, or the cogs of the chain on a bike? On the one hand, they’re highly abstract, but the sound design helps viewers make sense of them,” says Baxi.

Another element of the on-air look is the graphic elements used to signpost different shows and navigation around channels. For this, DixonBaxi created a dashboard-style effect, with Lineto typeface Alpha used in white against photographic backgrounds – a simple and unusually understated effect for a sports channel.

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On-air graphics feature a dashboard-style device, with Lineto typeface Alpha used in white against a photographic background

“It’s like an augmented layer on top of the footage of the sport and it also allows Eurosport to showcase all the different franchises: the Tour de France, the Moto GP, the 2015 IPC Swimming Championships, in a cohesive way, which was something they’d struggled to do before. To be honest, it’s really pared back. The whole look is about the image, so there’s nothing 3D, and there’s no colour. It’s all white apart from the red highlight with the word live and the number of the channel,” says Baxi.

Ads are based around the idea of a passion for or obsession with sport: one features a close-up of a mud-spattered cyclist celebrating victory, with the tagline ‘You can only understand my madness if you #sharemypassion’, while another will feature an image of tennis player Rafael Nadal. The hashtag will be used on social media to encourage fans to share their own sporting moments.

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New Eurosport ads feature close-ups of athletes during gruelling moments or victory. The sharemypassion hashtag will also be used on social media to encourage fans to share their own sporting stories

The result is a bold new look for Eurosport, which avoids the busy graphics and victory montages often favoured by sports broadcasters and brands in favour of a more distinctive and in some ways, subtle, approach. It’s a more contemporary look too, replacing Eurosport’s outdated identity with a more flexible system that works as well online as well as it does on and off-screen.

“There was a clear drive to make it feel contemporary and fresh…and not just like we’re changing the paint,” says Gaggio. The new look will help Eurosport’s creative teams around the world produce their own communications specific to their local audience – something Gaggio says will be an increasing focus for the broadcaster

“We provide guidelines for them which define the style of photography, editing, sound and so on – and they’ll all go through me and Antonio [Ruiz] – but it will help make our communications more relevant to fans in those markets,” he says.

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