The road to Roubaix
On 9 April 2017, participants in one of the world’s oldest cycling races set off from Compiègne in northern France, towards Roubaix, Belgium. Traversing 53 miles over the cobblestones that comprise much of the riders’ journey to the finish line, the Paris-Roubaix is considered one of the most difficult cycling races to complete; its nickname, 'the hell of the north,' suggests a less than comfortable ride. Yet a recent overhaul of the Paris-Roubaix visual identity and marketing materials, carried out by the French office of global branding agency Futurebrand, uses the race’s rough terrain as inspiration behind its latest design.
To communicate the sportsmanship which carries riders through the Paris-Roubaix race, Futurebrand has taken an ostensibly unpleasant experience and used its key attributes to develop a fresh and unique visual identity. Working with the organisation behind the annual event, Amaury Sport Organisation, the new identity and platform was launched at the 115th Paris-Roubaix race which took place on 9 April.
Optimising the new identity for all platforms, from digital to the race day itself, developed a united identity between riders and spectators. While the race has seen a number of visual identities since it began, the notorious environment and conditions provide the inspiration needed to create a modern and truly unique identity. Commenting on the project, the Futurebrand Paris-Roubaix project page says, “FutureBrand brought this epic tale to life with a new visual identity system for the brand, at the heart of which lies the prime adversary of our modern hero – the famous Paris-Roubaix cobblestone.”
“The unpredictable nature of the surfaces that cyclists face during the race is translated into a bespoke typography and a set of patterns that once coupled with a vibrant colour pattern, promise an unbridled struggle for a heroic victory. The consistent yet flexible application of the visual identity components on all touch-points allows the definition of a clear journey for a strong and dominant brand.”
“Online, offline, and on the road to Roubaix, the brand story comes to life at each of the 27 paved sections of the circuit,” says Futurebrand.
As the last remaining global cycling race to conclude in a velodrome, the legacy of Paris-Roubaix deserves preservation – despite its potential for saddle sores. Futurebrand has created an identity which transforms a race considered by many as undoable, to an event which is unmissable for even its digital audience.
The Paris-Roubaix rebrand project was released after Futurebrand’s win of five Transform awards at the annual Transform Awards Europe, including 'Best overall visual identity' for its work with Motorola. The event was held on 29 March at the Brewery, London. See the full list of winners here.