DesignStudio has worked with German Bundesliga football club Borussia Dortmund on an evolved brand that looks to revive the “passion” of the team and its fans for a new global and commercial age of football.
According to DesignStudio senior strategist Sinead Kirby, when the club was founded in 1909 its team was beloved “for being the underdogs in a world where football was about tradition and local community”.
“Their promise – Eichte Liebe, or ‘Real Love’ – spoke to the devotion and loyalty of the fans, the players and the club”, she says.
“Fast forward over a century to a culture where football is international and not just about love, but also about commercial success”, she adds. Nor are the team still underdogs; with the club, known as BVB, finishing second in Germany’s top-tier league, the Bundesliga, in 2023.
Kirby says DesignStudio’s task “was to bring these worlds together to revive the BVB passion and retell their story”.
A need to appeal to a new generation of global and digital-first fans has influenced a number of club rebrands of recent years, from Aston Villa and AC Milan to Juventus back in 2017. For BVB a similar evolution was needed; while the existing BVB identity was limited to “a logo that was designed to sit statically in a stadium”, says DesignStudio executive creative director Vinay Mistry, it needed to be built into “a full system that could live across every touch point and engage fans from Dortmund to the Dominican Republic”, he says.
DesignStudio design director Lorenzo Di Cola adds, meanwhile: “Despite being one of the biggest and most beloved clubs in the world, their brand wasn’t built for digital and they needed to be able to reach their fans and community across every channel, as well as compete with other world-leading clubs, on every platform”.
The new visual system created by DesignStudio is based around “Die Gelbe Wand, or “Yellow Wall” of BVB fans, “which perfectly symbolises the club’s collective power and community”, Di Cola says.
Describing this as the club’s “most iconic and ownable asset”, he explains that the 34º angle of the Signal Induna Park stadium’s terrace was translated into a graphic device, which becomes “our angle of attack throughout the system, from logo to motion”.
In collaboration with French foundry Blaze Type, a custom typeface suite was created to incorporate this angle – which also shapes the new Borussia Dortmund wordmark.
A new headline typeface features “intensity characters” while the body type is “more functional”, and a number system echoes the device’s
The new colour palette remains rooted in the black and yellow associated with BVB but adds neons and greys drawn from the “colours of the stadium, vintage BVB shirts and the city”, according to the studio.
A new suite of textures also takes inspiration from Dortmund’s industrial landscape, Di Cola explains, which is showcased in a 3D version of the BVB logo.
The 34º angle also shapes motion design and photography treatments throughout.
“Using the 34º angle, we designed motion principles and behaviours for all digital assets across socials, physical in-stadium animations on the big screens and throughout experiences such as [in] their museum”, Di Cola says.
“A key part of our delivery was creating assets for BVB TV including assets for broadcast and all their in-house production”, he adds.
Art direction throughout looked to convey BVB’s “power and pride”, says Di Cola, and features three levels of treatment for “flexibility and longevity”: steady shots for quickly sharing key match moments; intense shots “with a motion blur, soft focus and filmic grain” to show moments “of passion and elation”; while the “most expressive” are refraction shots, “used for special events like new records or player signings”.
According to Di Cola, the branding has been “built to flex across the full system and enable BVB to implement it across every touchpoint – from customised physical spaces like the stadium tunnel to social posts and future team kits”.