Sports branding used to be about differentiating two opposing teams on a field; it used to be about an umpire or referee quickly identifying the team to award points to, or to penalize; it used to be a world in which the identity of a team could be summed up in the color of their socks.
But with The Bluebirds changing their colors to red, Spain’s Olympic team kit designed by Russian outfitters Bosco Sport, and Nike’s support for the ever changing ‘uniforms’ of the Oregan Ducks, it’s clear that sports branding means as much to big business as it does to fans.
But it was that fan loyalty that ESPNU sought to capitalize on with their modern-classic campaign 'Never Graduate' and the series of logo treatments that formed a part of their college sports promotion.
They collaborated with National Television — an established relationship that’s proven successful for ESPNU — putting together a series of incredibly detailed character animations. Whilst some campaigns last just days, this campaign worked so well that it can still be seen, 18 months after its original airing.
It’s vital in ESPNU’s branding that they both identify with individual loyalties for those who follow a particular college team, without alienating any other group. The instant recognition felt by fans of the sport is bound to stoke the brand loyalty ESPNU hope for, and the frequent changes maintain their lack of bias.
For a brand that has always walked a tightrope between excessively corporate and a little too MTV, the National Television campaigns tell us both that youthful allegiances never die, and that there are far too many colleges with a bulldog as a mascot.
How many of these college football teams can you identify? Does adopting your team's branding encourage you to watch ESPNU? Let us know in the comments.
Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.