Established in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot is the premier racecourse in the UK, located in Ascot, Berkshire, England, about an hour’s drive from London. The racecourse is part of The Crown Estate and its administration is handled on behalf of the Crown by a representative appointed by the Monarch. It’s most celebrated event is the Royal Ascot (or crazy-hat day) and is the equivalent of the Kentucky Derby + British royalty. Despite hosting one of the highest profile and competitive races in the world, the Ascot racecourse itself hasn’t performed as well the rest of the year, with many race days struggling to fill the grandstand. To help Ascot jockey forward, they have introduced a new identity designed by London-based The Clearing.
We defined a new brand positioning and identity for the overall Ascot brand. At its heart lies a new promise: Raise the standard.
Designed to reflect Ascot’s unique position as the UK’s royal racecourse, the promise serves as a directive for the whole organisation. It’s a rallying cry that calls staff to honour their sense of duty and leadership: to preserve tradition while translating it meaningfully into new, exciting occasions.
The new identity system creates one cohesive destination brand - Ascot - that can flex to deliver a luxury social and sporting event, Royal Ascot. The visual identity is a contemporary take on traditional racing and heritage cues, juxtaposing a classic colour palette with a graphic pattern inspired by racing silks. The new tone of voice uses storytelling to convey the history and heritage of the racecourse, to show how a day at Ascot is unlike any other.
The old logo was fine in terms of approach: name of place, crown for queen. No horses or anything but the name carries that with it, unless like me you had no idea what Ascot was before yesterday and the logo looked like a brand of crown shining pomade. The rendering of the crown was overly detailed and reduced like horse’s manure. The wordmark — if someone had shown some restraint on that “A” — could have been decent and it gave off a golf tournament vibe so it sort of worked. The new logo is a major design improvement, redrawing the crown with the least amount of elements necessary while still hitting all the key traits. The wordmark has shifted to a more fashionable sans serif and looks nice and clean, while matching the visual density of the crown. There isn’t a high concept going on in the redesign; just a strong evolution to bring the logo into today’s aesthetics.
One of my favorite elements of the identity, that doesn’t get as much play, is the pattern above, with graphic elements taken from racing silks. It works great in the few times it’s used in the application images below and it will make for a killer Ascot tie.
The applications look great. Elegant and simple. The only element that feels off-brand is the typographic treatment with the rules between the headlines, as seen in the ad. Feels like it belongs somewhere else, like an airline ad. Nonetheless, crisp stuff.
The logo for Royal Ascot, is the same as for Ascot but with Royal appended on top. A painful combination of letters to kern and I bet we could all spend hours fiddling with it and still not get it right (just as the final logo is not quite right).
In application, the Royal Ascot exchanges the blue and silver for a tan and gold color palette (with strikes of blue) and the sans serif typography for serif. All perfectly calibrated to look luxurious and covetable. Overall, both the Ascot and Royal Ascot identities are fine-looking work that is well executed and appropriate for the subject matter and audience.
Plans are in development for coming back to Europe in Spring of 2018 with the current top contender host city of Barcelona.