In 2009, while working at ESPN Outdoors/B.A.S.S. I had an awesome opportunity of being part of a brand refresh. B.A.S.S. created various tournaments including a grassroots program called the Federation Nation Championships, Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Bassmaster Women's Tour, and the highest professional tour, the Bassmaster Classic. All these tournament brands were designed by different people at different times using different styles. In 2009, we reached a point where we needed to consolidate the brands into one cohesive look to support that these came from the same house. Not only were the logos different from one another, but they all utilized different nomenclature, and they all felt individual instead of part of a whole.
When the company decided to look at options for a new portfolio of tournament brands, it hired an external design firm to mock up with some options for us. One day my supervisor stopped by my desk and showed me the designs that the firm had been working on. My face said it all, I was in shock. Not because I liked what I saw, but the complete opposite. The comps we received did not show any creativity, depth of design, or understanding of the history of the brand. They did not express what the brand was about and more importantly, the marks didn't push the brand forward into the future, while respecting it's formidable past. The brand needed to be pushed forward to a contemporary audience exposed to digital media and social networks. The marks actually looked like someone had taken the simplest version in the old portfolio and only updated the color and fonts. I asked my supervisor if our leaders would let me come up with a couple of options and after confirming it with the VP of Marketing, I got the go ahead to work on the project independently from the external design firm.
The samples below show you the variety of design aesthetics used on all the individual tournaments. They all said something different.
CLEAR BRAND NEEDS
From looking at the brand marks we owned at the time, it was clear the logos needed to look more connected. I also considered where the logos would be used (in uniforms, print ads, billboards, television brand ID, promotional products, brochures, way-finding signs, etc). I looked back at what we had and started to draw some concepts based on the more favorable designs. The Elite Series logo was perhaps the most contemporary and engaging of all the marks in the old portfolio. It was the most different and it aided as the starting point to step from. After analyzing what I had to work with, I quickly realized that there needed to be a specific hierarchy to settle before finalizing the overall design. The Bassmaster brand was utilized across all tournaments, therefore it needed to be an important element of the design. We also needed to showcase the primary brand that started it all, the B.A.S.S. brand, but this presented some challenges. For the main brand, Bassmaster was the repeated factor on each of the old tour names. But they all called the Bassmaster brand in different ways. I took the brand Bassmaster as the primary brand, but connected it to the B.A.S.S. shield through the overall design. The order became clear and worked well across all tours: 1. Bassmaster; 2. Name of Tour; 3. B.A.S.S. shield. All marks would carry the B.A.S.S. shield as the umbrella brand that held all these tournaments together.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
At first, I started by creating a couple of shape versions for the overall design of the mark. The first shape was very similar to the old Elite Series logo, oval in shape without the olive branches. The second was the shape of a bass fishing boat viewed from the front, with some overlapping graphic elements. I then proceeded to create shape concepts in Illustrator in order to call out the main shapes that would hold the letter forms of the brand names. Once the main shapes were identified, I worked in Photoshop to add visual effects and prepared them for presentation. The second shape ended up winning when I presented the designs to the senior leadership team. This was the most dynamic and fresh of designs from the two options.
The next step was how to separate these tournaments, beside their naming convention. We could have simply created one version in one color with the different naming conventions. There is actually a step process similar to the medal options in an Olympic competition. In order to qualify to compete in the super bowl of bass fishing competitions, the Bassmaster Classic, an angler has to make it through the Bassmaster Opens and the Bassmaster Elite Series. Following the metal comparison used for Olympic medals (gold, silver, bronze), I used a bronze color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Opens Tournaments, a silver color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament, and a gold color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Classic. At the time, there was an active Women's Tour, and for this mark, we used a red color/metal effect. Finally, I utilized a blue color scheme representing water to denominate the Federation Nation, which is the originating club where most professional anglers come from eventually. The design concept was complete.
The creation of the logos was not as easy as it sounds. This took hours of work in Illustrator to get the exact shapes needed, then work in Photoshop testing different type of metal effects, colors, special effects, lighting effects, etc. I especially took care in building lighting effects from different directions so that the marks would look more lively and engaging. These logos needed to be large enough to be used in billboards or small enough to fit in newspaper or magazine print ad. Finally, all the logos needed to have excellent visual clarity for use in television broadcasts and digital channels.
In the tournament library, only the professional tournaments carried the full color three-dimensional design, helping to separate them from the rest. For each individual logo, I created a vector option of the raster logo design in order to guarantee the quality of the logo if it was blown up for large scale banners or other large output.
Once the brand marks were approved, the brand style guide was created to incorporate every version needed, such as black and white versions, reversed, and flat versions of each tournament brand. The style guide included the usual: color styles, do's and don'ts, and specs.
The response from these logos have been very positive. I will never forget the day when our tournament event director viewed the logos for the first time and said that he would be proud to wear his baseball cap with the new tournament logos on it.