Bath-based design studio Thisaway has rebranded The Jockey Club, seeking to transform its previously “monolithic” identity with a new “typeface hierarchy” and place-inspired illustrations.
Following a strategic review of the business, The Jockey Club decided to establish brand identities for its three marquee events: The Grand National, Cheltenham Festival and The Epsom Derby. Another part of the business plan was to reinforce The Jockey Club master brand as “the endorser” of those three events, says Thisaway founder and creative director Graeme Cook.
The studio was invited to present a credentials proposal to The Jockey Club over two years ago and has since worked on rebrands for two of its three marquee events: the Grand National – which launched last year – and Cheltenham Festival, which will be revealed this week. The design work on third event – Epsom Derby – was done by 20.20 last year.
“Horse racing is the second most watched sport after football in the UK”, says Cook, though he adds that, since attendance has been decreasing, there is a need to “appeal to the next generation of sports fans”. The Jockey Club rebrand is “one of few initiatives” seeking to fulfil this goal, others being relaxing the dress code for the events and have DJs on site during race days, according to Cook.
The central idea driving the creative work is “getting hearts racing”, which aims to put the consumer experience at the forefront rather than the business. Cook adds that the studio was also keen to position The Jockey Club as “the standard bearer of British horse racing” in regard to animal welfare and regulations.
Previously, the brand only had one significant asset – the diamond – which had become overused, appearing on everything from the logo to the carpets and curtains at race locations, according to Cook. Since the diamond is part of The Jockey Club’s 270 years of heritage, Cooks says that Thisaway’s approach was to take the emphasis off it by including it as “a detail” rather than a central graphic device.
Evolving the diamond in this way meant that the brand could appeal to younger audiences “without alienating current race goers”, says Cook. It is now visible in the J logomark and also in the display typeface.
When considering how the 14 racecourses would algin with the Masterbrand, Thisaway initially thought to house illustrations within the diamond but encountered difficulties at the application stage. Then it came up with the idea of using the diamond as a display typeface which could also be adopted by the racecourse.
After coming across a serif display typeface by French typographer Océane Moutot, the studio reached out to her asking her to produce a cut of that typeface incorporating the diamond element. The result is a bespoke brand typeface which uses the diamond shape as serifs and descender lines in certain letterforms.
To keep legibility, Cook says that the guidelines prescribe it as a display typeface “to be used uppercase in headings and sentence case in standfirst copy for no more than four or five words”.
The Gotham typeface, previously used across the whole of the brand has been dropped. Other players in The Jockey Club’s new “typeface hierarchy” are Moutot’s Sincerity typeface, which has “a lot of weights to it” and a typeface called Ariana by Olivier Gourvat, which is used for smaller headings.
While the new display font was a linking feature between the master brand and racecourses, The Jockey Club wanted to avoid having a “monolithic” identity” as it did before, says Cook. Thisaway commissioned illustrator Jack Daly to create something that would give all 14 racecourses more assets to use “to make them feel unique form the master brand”, Cook explains.
He says that Daly’s “modern but premium style” elevated with “texture elements” in his vector illustrations worked well with the style of the typography. Daly included landmarks relevant to each racecourse location to “tell the story of the area” and give each site a “unique ownable element”, Cook adds.
Thisaway also wrote a paragraph of boiler copy for each racecourse, aiming to give context to the illustrations and the story of the location and establish its position in the racing calendar.
Another differentiating factor is that each racecourse now has its own colour, primarily used as an accent against the gold and deep green of the master brand palette. Cook says the studio was keen for the colours to feel “quite vibrant” against the richness of The Jockey Club palette.
Aside from trying to come up with a bank of horse-related puns, Cook says that the biggest challenge was the breadth of the project and making the various moving parts work in synergy, from the master brand to the 14 racecourses.
As The Jockey Club becomes more visible as the endorser of racing events, Thisaway hopes that the J logo mark, display typeface, and illustrations will act as “recognisable” assets of the brand.
Its new identity has rolled out digitally and is starting to gradually appear across the racecourse locations, beginning with Sandown in Surrey.