Just the tip of the ICE-berg.
I’ll just say it right upfront… it’s a rush to see your design work frozen in center ice. I’ve been lucky enough to experience it several times so far in my career, and every time it gives me a chill.
Yes, that is Michelle Kwan. In her prime, standing on my logo. The design is almost two decades old (I know, I’m dating myself), but I think it still holds up to the test of time fairly well. A simple logo featuring two skating stars (get it?) and a few ice swirls, creating a fun and memorable image that lasted several years. Later, it was replaced by a series of forgettable, disjointed event logos that lost any sense of continuity (do I seem bitter?).
In any case, (National Car Rental logo sandwiched in at the last minute excepted), it was a successful brand that gave the event a fun personality and developed solid visual equity. Overall, it was well-received (not to mention it sold a good amount of merchandise for my client, US Figure Skating).
The second opportunity came in 2011 when my company, APEX Communications, was contracted to create a logo for the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Under-20 Championships. The event was held in Buffalo, N.Y., at the NHL Sabres KeyBank Arena, which was then the HSBC Arena and/or the First Niagra Center (who can keep track?). The tournament featured international teams of players under 20-years of age criss-crossing my logo at center ice in pursuit of the world title. And (bonus!) the image was still embedded in the arena ice for at least one NHL game. Hence the Boston Bruin skating up ice with a Sabre in hot pursuit (if that’s even possible on the ice).
The event branding project was commissioned by USA Hockey, a long-time client, who I’ve had the privilege to work with over the last two decades. The IIHF provides a very specific set of guidelines to host countries who are tasked with designing the event logos. Hence the vertical rounded rectangle (appropriately, the hockey rink shape) which all logos conform to. They allow a little leeway to extend design elements beyond the rink boundaries (pending IIHF approval), but the font and positioning of text elements is predetermined. All in all, it’s a very nice design system that promotes regional creativity for the IIHF events while maintaining a strong brand for the federation. (In fact the whole system merits a future SBJ court case, so stay tuned.)
This project was extra rewarding for me because the event promoters created a wide selection of merchandise that I couldn’t resist buying for myself, including an authentic jersey with a beautifully embroidered event logo on the front. Subsequently, my profit margin on this project took a hefty hit.
I think we can put this Courtfolio case on ice for now. But it was fun for me to look back anyway. Following Sports Brand Jury policy, I will refrain from issuing a verdict on any of my “courtfolio” cases. But you’re welcome to comment. Just be aware, I’ll be quick to issue penalties for any weak arguments. Two minutes for slashing.
Kwan Photo: Brian Bahr/Allsport