Refreshing a legend, behind the scenes of Wimbledon's brand
Though the tarps have been rolled and the strawberry stems cleaned and the streets calmed in the London suburb of Wimbledon, the activity at the activity at the All England Club is by no means dormant. For the 50 weeks prior to the Championships, the club is a hubbub of activity preparing for the two weeks of the world’s spotlight it garners each summer.
For this past tournament, that meant a reevaluation of the primary brand touchpoints at the event itself. Space, a London-based brand agency, worked with Wimbledon to create a new tournament poster for 2017, branding for the venue itself and brand guidelines for use by on-site partners.
“Wimbledon’s brand is very strong, as are the brand guidelines,” says Space managing partner David Atkinson. “But you can see that occasionally, they play with those guidelines to make them more flexible and more modern.” For the brand guidelines, Space translated the existing Wimbledon branding into “sensible partner guidelines” that allowed for a consistent experience at Wimbledon and the appropriate application of Wimbledon’s brand assets by on-site partners. Working with as diverse a set of brands as Haagen-Dazs, Lavazza, Stella Artois and others required the guidelines to ensure consistency, but also the freedom to communicate about Wimbledon across the individual brands’ own channels. “It’s a sign of respect for the Wimbledon brand that you can accommodate such major global brands and make sure they all conform,” Atkinson says. “It’s more about the fact that they want to adhere to it. There’s more to be gained from being consistent with the Wimbledon guidelines than to break from it.”
But, the work began on a 2017 poster that would be the centrepiece of the Championships’ communications this year. The poster was to commemorate three milestones in Wimbledon’s 90 year partnership with the BBC – 90 years of radio broadcast, 80 years of television and 50 years of colour.
“We landed on the idea of a test card,” Atkinson says. It’s an image that immediately evokes broadcasting and is visually strong enough to allow the iconic purple and green to be applied to it, as well as subtle imagery added to it to represent tennis and the partnership.
For the venue branding, Space created a series of panels that go behind the scenes at Wimbledon and share interesting details about the process of creating the Championships. “A lot of people know what Wimbledon is – they know its a great tennis tournament, played on grass and in London – but really understanding the principles and foundations of what makes Wimbledon special is quite a challenge,” Atkinson says. To achieve that, some of the panels share information about the preparation of the club or about the work of the groundskeepers or ballboys and girls. Others look at the strawberries served at the tournament or the broadcast of the Championships. They take viewers on a journey through the 50 weeks of preparation and work that are behind the tournament’s two weeks of sport.
“The interesting thing about Wimbledon is the fact that it is not afraid of modernising and going forward at a sensible pace. But it’s a balance of modernisation and history. They are aware of the legacy and longevity of the brand and that not everything needs to be redone each year. I think it’s that sense of progressive modernisation that is unique to the brand,” Atkinson says.
The opportunity to refresh the brand this year made for a prime opportunity to marry the past, the process and the present. “For two weeks a year, it’s part of our absolute psyche in the UK and it’s something we’re very proud of,” Atkinson adds. Those two weeks make the 50 weeks of preparation worth the effort in getting everything from the height of the grass to the size of the strawberries to the brand guidelines just right.