Five ways brand can prevent the identity crisis at the heart of sport

No beer in the stadium, athlete’s rights brought into question, outcomes influenced by social media, questionable commercial decisions. Sport feels as if it has lost its way, flailing in the middle of an identity crisis. A strong, powerful brand can help organisations navigate their way out of crisis or even avoid it altogether.

We’ve helped our fair share of high-performance sports teams, governing bodies and global multi-sport events build brands with bold ambition, capable of charting a clearer way forward.

Our Creative Director, Adam Concar, reflected on his 5 essential tests to build brands that deliver greater impact in the confusing and complex, but increasingly valuable, world of sport.



01. Reflect the lives and experience of fans and participants.

Brand is a representation of an organisation at its best and sport challenges us, as participants and spectators, to be our best. Both are aspirational, and both provide frameworks for who we want to be.

Successful sports brands start by finding the common ground between participants and fans and their sport, because without these enthusiasts there is no sport.

There’s no short cut. When we begin work on any sporting brand, we start by getting closer to the community, at grass roots events, general assemblies, face to face or through mass engagement. We go the extra mile to find the real experience that motivates, inspires and unites everyone involved with the sport. Stars may have their moment in the spotlight, but it’s the fans that create the community, and the culture.

As part of our work for the British Olympic Association in the run up to 2012, we described Team GB as 900 athletes: 60 million strong. Our Olympians and Paralympians were competing for the nation, and with the nation powerfully behind them. At the heart of this was one team living London 2012 together.

Read the full case study here.


02. Give the sport meaning.

Once you understand what attracts fans and participants, you have to get to the core of what gives the experience meaning in their lives. You need to decide what your sport stands for. Because when you don’t stand for something, it’s easy to get lost and find yourself in the middle of an identity crisis.

It’s these fundamental shared beliefs and core values that will attract the sponsors and partners who are the lifeblood of professional sport. What is unique about your sport and what is the emotional purpose that partners will want to align with?

For World Triathlon, we understood that their athletes are on a journey of personal discovery to see what they are capable of mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s the most challenging sport that anyone, and everyone, can do.

The sport needed an idea that would challenge and invite, it needed to stand for a shared opportunity to experience something out of the ordinary. Their proposition, ‘Be Your Extraordinary’, expresses this in a way that resonates with athletes, enthusiasts, host cities and partners alike.

Read the full case study here.


03. Keep it simple.

Sport is most powerful at its rawest: jumpers for goalpost, you versus the clock. Sport may be a fast moving, vibrant, noisy world, but it should never lose sight of the powerful, fundamental ideas and emotions that drive it.

Queen famously wrote songs that crowds could perform in large stadia as part of an emotional, collective experience. Sport needs this too. It needs brands that the crowd can own.

Most recently, we helped the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games find the simple idea and bold expression that would bring together the disparate communities of the West Midlands, the UK and the Commonwealth.

Through an intense and extensive consultation, we discovered Birmingham’s desire to create a Games that would celebrate diversity and difference like no other before it –  an inspirational event that would be ‘the Games for everyone.’

This idea ran through everything you saw over the summer of 2022, from the narrative of the opening ceremony to the vibrant dressing of the City and the region.

But we wanted to go further and really hand over ownership of the brand to the community. It was vital to us that the brand should be instantly usable: journalists should be able to quote it, athletes able to tattoo themselves with it, and children able to recreate it.

That led to a graphic logomark that acts as a framework for telling stories, a route map for connecting the region and, as you can see below, a tool for fans to use.

Read more about our involvement here.


04. Bring it to life.

But simple doesn’t mean basic. It means full of potential. How does the brand and the visual identity inspire? Can it add drama to broadcast graphics? Can it invoke pride in a precious medal? It isn’t enough to create something simple, you have to think through how it lives and breathes across every application and channel in a rich, dynamic, multi-media environment.

For Commonwealth Sport, we stripped back their old identity to reveal the three core values at the heart of this movement: Equality, Diversity and Humanity. We then gave these values expression as a ‘celebration mark’ to reflect how athletes instinctively lift their arms above their heads in a sign of victory and joy. It’s a graphic device that expresses growth, positivity and inclusivity. One that works well on flat, 2D static applications, but that really comes to life in digital media and on TV where it celebrates that moment of personal and collective sporting achievement.

Read more about our involvement here.


05. Respect the heritage.

Can you take the sport with you and avoid the backlash associated with the introduction of any new brand? Are you respectful of the heritage? Can the fans understand it, and will partners want to use it?

The rebrand we orchestrated in 2018 for Motorsport UK, the national governing body of four-wheeled motorsport, was part of a wider strategy to revitalise the sport at a grass roots level. Under new leadership, Motorsport UK wanted to do much more to reconnect with and reinvigorate the hundreds of motorsports clubs throughout the UK who are the lifeblood of a sport and an industry with a deep history, vital to the UK economy and our national culture.

The rebrand brings together four wheels and four home nations into a device that represents a dynamic community. This was supported with content, communications and campaigns that put the focus back on the participants and volunteers that help the sport to thrive.

Read the full case study here.



Are you headed for an identity crisis?

Do you know who you are, where you came from and what you stand for? Can you tell your story in a way that resonates and everyone can connect with? And are you truly living it? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then maybe you need to take another look at your brand and where it’s taking you before you find yourself lost in the world of sport.

Call Adam, our Creative Director, for an informal chat on 01926 678368 (

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