Koto has unveiled the results of its two-year collaboration with video game behemoth Call of Duty, addressing three of the franchise’s key challenges with a new design system including a redrawn wordmark and refined brand assets.
The project began with video game developer Activision’s ambition to unify the Call of Duty franchise, which has 23 titles spanning more than two decades. Koto chief creative officer and co-founder Jowey Roden says the initial task was to “refine and codify an identity that could seamlessly spread across in-game experiences, premium titles, marketing strategies, and growing partnerships”.
Koto identified three distinct challenges: developing an individual series identity while remaining cohesive within the broader Call of Duty franchise; authentically resonating with its diverse player base; and enhancing well-loved assets without undergoing a complete reinvention and losing the well-loved incumbent identity.
This culminated in the creation of a Call of Duty masterbrand identity and guidelines, as well as a new franchise logo and custom typeface.
The new identity “easily integrates with marketing, social media, web, and live service experiences”, says Roden. He adds that Koto’s design system looks to consolidate the brand’s core elements as “the common denominator, unifying the franchise and creating a cohesive Call of Duty experience”, while leaving room for individual IPs to shine.
The new custom typeface, Hitmarker, was introduced to bring “a distinctive and adaptable design element that could seamlessly integrate with diverse brand touchpoints” and add “a dynamic and impactful layer to all brand communications”, says Roden.
Designed in collaboration with type foundry NaN, the typeface is inspired by military heritage and pays homage to Call of Duty’s roots. It supports over 300 languages, making it suitable for the franchise’s global audience. Hitmarker debuted within in-game UI for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.
While Koto’s work isn’t “a complete reinvention”, Roden says it was “a meticulous refinement that maintains authenticity” and simultaneously embraces the need for modernisation.
Koto’s work with Call of Duty spanned around two years. Other specific projects that Koto worked on during that period were the launches of premium titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, which launched last September, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, which launched last month. The studio defined the visual and experiential aspects of the launches, and worked to ensure their seamless integration with the overarching Call of Duty brand narrative.
Executing the brand within live game services was another part of the brief. This involved the evolution of the Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile identities, as well as developing seasonal identities for the game – most notably The Haunting seasonal Halloween event.
Koto also had a hand in designing identities for Call of Duty’s live events and esports initiatives, including Call of Duty: Next and Call of Duty League, and even extended the partnership beyond gaming. The studio contributed to Call Of Duty’s philanthropic initiative – Call Of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) – delivering visual assets that aligned with Endowment’s mission to add “a meaningful dimension to the brand’s holistic impact”, explains Roden.
He says: “All these key projects were instrumental in reshaping Call of Duty’s identity, ensuring a cohesive and engaging brand presence across premium titles, live game experiences, esports, and philanthropic endeavours.
“Each project was tailored to enhance the overall brand narrative and create a lasting impact on the Call of Duty community.”