Santa Monica-based Big Block Design Group (BBDG) recently delivered an extensive rebrand of ESPN’s entire lineup of NFL shows. The new package of NFL graphics, show opens and team logos, teasers and interstitials included over 1,000 deliverables.
BBDG and ESPN’s in-house creative team collaborated on a new look for Sunday NFL Countdown, ESPN’s flagship show, and extended that visual language for NFL Insiders, NFL Live, NFL PrimeTime, NFL Matchup and Week in Review. The rebrand debuted with the opening of the 2014 season.
BBDG creative directors Shaun Collings and Curtis Doss made the initial pitch to ESPN senior creative director Chris Mantzaris and ESPN vice president of creative services Rick Paiva in April 2013. Stemming from ESPN’s desire for a highly sophisticated, premium channel identity, the BBDG team, led by executive producer Pete King explored a noir, cinematic look inspired by superhero films. While the previous concept, which had been in place for the last six years, was gritty and tough, the new approach would be sleek and futuristic, featuring 3D glass panels with the freedom to fly around a dramatic layered environment. The minimized color palette is punctuated by bursts of glowing neon.
ESPN art director Lucas Nickerson, Collings and Doss studied the details of superhero costumes and NFL jerseys. BBDG digitally scanned the fabrics of the actual apparel for an authentic treatment of team logos. Trending neon colorways in athletic wear also influenced the spectral lighting effects seen throughout the packages.
The packages will fill the multiple screens that are arrayed in ESPN’s 9,000 square foot NFL studio. The borderless screens are mounted on fluid track systems with endless configurations, able to present content like game footage and stats in vertical or panoramic formats, even stacking screens for a single display.
Because ESPN’s branding packages have such a long life, BBDG future-proofed the new look by establishing a visual language and style guide. The company also produced numerous next-gen elements that will be banked in order to give ESPN’s design group the freedom to customize the look over time.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football was outside the scope of the NFL rebrand, but BBDG is currently in the design phase for MNF for the 2015 season.
“For over a year and a half, the Big Block Design Group orchestrated a full design vocabulary that became the language for an entirely new rebrand for ESPN’s 2014 NFL broadcast,” said Mantzaris. “Their passion, dedication and willingness to explore and test concepts were stunningly evident at the NFL season opening.”