“We need a new logo”.
These words have struck fear, excitement, and trepidation in the hearts of designers around the world, green or experienced. Within the confines of one piece of creative lies the weight of an entire brand.
It represents the visual identity of a brand in one piece.
It is the first impression the brand will make.
A great logo will be proudly emblazoned on shirts, billboards, stickers and of course, company signage. A horrible logo will be the source of snarky memes and irritated social posts. It has to be done right.
When I first joined Esports One, there was an existing logo that we all liked and had various attributes that we wanted to maintain.
As we evolved and grew over the last year and a half, we knew our brand would have to evolve and grow as well. We wanted the logo to coexist alongside our other existing brands in a strong way and above all, reflect our values and ideals as a company. Esports One is home to a family of brands that will only expand over time. It was vital that the core E1 logo be flexible enough to be incorporated into the other brands we own, making this logo project a bit more complex. This logo can’t just merely be pretty, it must also be modular in a sense. Time to get to work.
When I get a creative brief or I’m tasked with a creative process, two things usually occur. A vivid image appears in my head; it’s simply a matter of getting what’s in my head onto a piece of paper or a screen and I’m free to iterate. The other thing that can take place is… nothing. Whatever happens, it’s time for creative inspiration and competitive analysis.
What are other brands doing in this space?
What are other great brands (not necessarily in this space) doing?
What are we trying to say with our brand?
What does our brand symbolize?
How should our new logo make someone feel?
Answering these questions would solidify my approach. I wanted our logo to be a symbol of forward motion and simplicity, important stuff for a company focused on making esports accessible for everyone, at every point in the esports experience.
When designing our new logo, the first thing I wanted to address is legibility. Exciting, I know, but when you really think about how a logo will be used, it’s vital. Business cards, app icons, websites, favicons, and co-branding can be merciless on an overly ornate or detailed logo. I strove for the new Esports One logo to be bold and visible. There would be no confusion or effort needed to understand our logo.
The requirement of keeping the logo flexible for the other brands was an initial pain point. I could come up with several unique shapes that could harmoniously contain the “E” and “1”, but once I applied these shapes to the other brands, all hell broke loose. I would keep building and building, adding complexity and details. Inevitably, it would all cave in as the other brand’s needs were considered. Once I held fast to my instincts of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, not the band) things moved quickly.
I leveraged some of my time looking for input from our Marketing Director, Jordan O’Hara and Matt Gunnin, our CEO and founder. They know the esports space and it’s wise to ensure you have alignment with your partners and an understanding of your audience. With these two, knowing their audience is a gross understatement. It is a very rare thing to be able to count on the fact that your team knows their audience inside and out, no guesswork, no assumptions. I leaned on that heavily.
After taking their ideas and thoughts into consideration, I’d hunker down with a sketchbook, scratching out rudimentary shapes and ideas before moving on to digital. By this point, the image in my head began to take solid shape. Inspirations from interior design, Blade Runner billboards, and iconic designer Peter Saville’s record sleeves began to seep into the work. I had a few versions that I really liked and would be happy to wear on a t-shirt (a black t-shirt, of course). I finally locked in a design that was clean, bold, legible and flexible enough to merge with other simple shapes that would form the backbone for the rebrand of our two other properties, Esportspedia and EsportsCalendar.
The rebrand revolves around a strong, bold E that can easily interplay with other glyphs. It has a slight slant, confident, but not obnoxiously aggressive. It symbolizes the forward motion of Esports One and esports as an industry. The corners have a smooth radius on certain outside edges, but sharp corners on others, so as not to appear too soft and delicate. The Esports One family of logos look both retro and futuristic, paying homage to gaming’s roots in the 80s and pointing to the bright future of esports. It reminds me of something that wouldn’t be out of place on a robot quarterback from Cyberball or a logo that would be at home on a billboard in Wip3out. Keeping the design language of games was incredibly important. It’s why we are all in this industry in the first place.
After finalizing the shapes and forms of the logos, I moved on to color. With this rebrand, we’d maintain the color palette established in the early months of the company. The neon green which gave me so many headaches with print projects would be staying. It’s a blessing and a curse to work with such a unique color. It’s unique because few printers can accommodate neon colors, yet, it certainly looks striking when we can pull it off. With the other brands, we refined and tweaked the existing colors. Any previous versions that were drab or slightly muted were jettisoned. We leaned into bold, rich colors that could stand alongside the bright neon green of Esports One without looking garish or childish. Finally, we moved onto typography, selecting a font face that could complement the new logos and maintain a feel of timelessness and fun, yet bold enough to stand alongside our new logos.
After this entire process, I feel like the work has just begun. Refining a logo is just a small piece of a larger branding puzzle.
How will we support the new logo in a visual context?
What shapes and form language will we lean on?
What does the logo look like in motion?
What is the voice of the new, refreshed Esports One?
More questions. More answers needed. More problems to solve. Our brand refresh is just the first of these many questions we’ll be answering in the near future. Some people think creative designers just listen to vinyl records, wear black and throw fits when their “art” is misunderstood or critiqued. While this can be very true (in my case at least the first two are correct) I think at the core of our beings, we’re visual problem solvers.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.