There was a time, in the distant past, when football tournaments didn’t have brand managers. Then, the game in hand was football, and if the application of graphics was inconsistent, well, the world wouldn’t end. Nowadays, you could be forgiven for thinking branding was more important than the 90 minutes on the pitch. Which is great news for designers.
Euro 2004, which kicks off on Saturday, is arguably one of the most consistently branded championships ever. The tournament’s logo, designed by ad agency Euro RSCG, has been carefully applied to footballs, TV studio sets, team shirts, individual countries’ TV coverage, stadiums, a mascot, a website and a whole raft of graphic material. And Uefa brand manager Dan O’Toole has overseen it all.
‘It’s more than just a logo,’ says O’Toole, with impressive understatement. ‘We involved Euro RSCG as much as possible, even if other design and branding groups were working with us, to make sure its application was consistent.’
Thus the Adidas-designed ball, ‘Rotero’, features a flattened version of the logo and a recommended colour palette. The official Euro 2004 on-screen branding by Markell ID, which national broadcasters are contractually-bound to use on their daily coverage, is, naturally, heavily branded, as is the mascot, Kinas, developed and licensed by Warners.
‘With broadcast in particular, our strategy was to create as many solutions as possible,’ says O’Toole. ‘The more the broadcasters have, the more they’re likely to use. So we’ve got animated break bumpers, stings, titles and a replay wipe device [a split-second on-screen flash which indicates a replay].’ Turin-based group Delta Tre reworked concepts for Markell’s on-screen work into a family of graphics, he adds.
Strategy, colour palettes, graphic consistency: Euro 2004 will surely be a visual feast, even if the football’s not up to much. But perhaps some of the more interesting graphic treatments will be seen around the stadiums – makeshift flags and banners hastily constructed from bedsheets and marker pens. A touch more cutting edge, at any rate.
Euro 2004 runs from 12 June to 4 July