Cricket is not often considered the most approachable or accessible sport. FutureBrand however wanted to change this when collaborating with The Hundred – a new, professional 100-ball cricket tournament across England and Wales.
The global brand transformation company – as they label themselves – knew it needed a typographic style that reflected the dynamism and energy of the new game format, but it also needed to create a simultaneously distinctive identity that could only be associated with The Hundred. To signify this change in how the game is perceived, the messaging also needed to be bold, graphic and impactful.
“Our vision,” explains Danielle Smith, Design Director of FutureBrand, “was a headline typeface that would ooze brand confidence. The custom typeface we created – ‘The Hundred Display’ – conveys a sense of assertiveness whilst remaining highly readable in short headlines. We opted for a distinctly solid, monospaced typeface that would deliver a powerful brand voice and cut through.”
In order to inform the individual look and feel of each team competing, FutureBrand took on a hefty amount of research into the nuances of hometown cultures. For example, for the team London Spirit, FutureBrand had to pull together six separate letterforms “that at first seem strange together but reflect the multicultural nature of the city and its communal culture.” For Birmingham Phoenix, a celebratory pattern of uplifting arrow shapes is used, inspired by the Birmingham City flag. Whilst the Manchester Originals graphics were “entirely typographic” says Smith. “We captured Manchester’s pioneering history and iconic culture in the form of symbols, and combined them with words to create a bespoke font that expressed a truly original and authentic design language.”
As with any graphic branding, it was important for the design team to centralise certain graphic devices. In this case, the key graphic device was a chevron, hazard-style graphic, selected to signal action, risk and drama – “the essence of the new tournament.” FutureBrand then added a pink and green colour palette, enabling the identity to stand out across all touchpoints, from matchday tickets through to television graphics.
This graphic approach also allows FutureBrand to incorporate icons and strong type-led visuals, such as the chevrons, to create far more dynamic moments. “A great example is the icons displayed on screens during key moments of the game. When a ball was bowled wide, for instance, a dynamic icon appeared on screens to support this visually and thereby create an experience which benefitted both hardcore fans and those still getting to grips with the game. These devices were extremely important in elevating the new format of cricket for all audiences.”
“Cricket is a sport steeped in tradition, historic rivalries, and an aura of exclusivity,” says Nick Sykes, Global CEO of FutureBrand. And while “for existing fans, this is part of the appeal,” for others “these qualities can render the sport inaccessible – after all, where does one begin to unpick the narrative of over 400 years of history to find an entry route for the casual spectator?”
To maintain the motivation of accessibility – the “ambition” to “inject cricket with a new burst of energy” – FutureBrand takes its audience on a “high-octane journey” involving striking colours, graphic imagery and expressive typography, all of which “align to capture the attention of cricket fans –old and new. Simply, it’s nothing the cricket world has seen before.” The Hundred, therefore, has been created to encourage a mass appeal for cricket, diversifying its audience. The impact that The Hundred has had on women’s cricket, says Sykes, “has been touted as transformational by both the players themselves and the England and Wales Cricket Board.”
One of the largest challenges for such a project was the process of “visually translating the objective of The Hundred,” explains Smith, as well as “creating nine visual identities in tandem.” On a smaller level, the colour strategy utilised across all teams’ identities was pretty complicated due to the restrictions of “polarising associations”, meaning teams such as Manchester couldn't feature colours such as red or blue.
Overall however, FutureBrand decidedly conclude that it was “a privilege to shape a brand with such brave ambition and the potential to tangibly drive positive change,” Smith tells It’s Nice That. “To see the incredible reception upon launch, with spectators in kits we designed and children waving hand-drawn banners of the logos we drew has been priceless.”
FutureBrand: The Hundred (Copyright © The Hundred, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.