Established in 2006 (originally British Basketball), GB Basketball is the organizing body for the sport in Britain for national team players from 16 years old through to seniors. Originally formed to prepare the men’s and women’s teams for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, GB Basketball is now on a path to grow the sport and its players by attracting government funding, corporate sponsorship, and increasing audience engagement. This past June, GB Basketball announced the introduction of a new identity designed by Bristol, UK-based Mr B & Friends.
Basketball is all about the kinetic energy created by the bounce of the ball. We decided to reflect the impact and reach of basketball with a pop-up street art and film event. Taking place in the massive Brabazon aircraft hangar, film and photography was used to capture the GB players in action. Basketballs were freshly painted in the colours of the Union flag by Art Director Rob Lewis and thrown repeatedly against a wall to create a series of splatter effects for the identity. Emblazoned with the line ‘Make your mark’ the resulting effect is an authentic, human-made brand that challenges and inspires people to get involved with the sport.
The imprints from the day were then digitised and paired with bold colours and type reminiscent of the names on players shirts. Print textures from the day were used as background graphics throughout the visual style as well as the creation of a bespoke dimpled effect typeface.
The old logo was so cute, with its diagram lines that made it look more like a summer camp for kids to learn to play than the representing body of a national team. It’s surprising the wordmark wasn’t set in Gill Sans. Needless to say, the old logo had the excitement of shooting a ball into a peach basket held by James Naismith. The new logo revolves around a ball icon that manages to capture both the energy of basketball and the UK-ness of the Union Jack. In a time where all logos are minimalist, crisp, and clean, it is so nice to see a messy, exuberant, slightly wild logo — one representing a sport at a national level not just a one-off fashion boutique or something. The ball icon works great on its own, or as a background, or paired in multiple ways with the new custom condensed font and wordmark, which is neither great nor bad. It’s a solid complement with the minimum amount of spikes needed to make it look like a sports brand. The outline version with the ball over it is very interesting, in part because of how good the ball icon looks against a dark background.
The “splat” graphics are great. Other than some extra splat-y ones, they are all clearly basketballs in the colors of the flag and they yield great textures that can be used in so many ways. (Although, unfortunately, they are not shown in use in any of the applications below; but it’s nice to know they are there.)
Mr B & Friends partnered with Phil James of photography and motion studio Shadowplay. Together they created behind scenes footage and a suite of player portraits and hero CGI imagery in keeping with the new brand. One-off GB branded balls were also used on the shoot made by Bristol based graffiti artist Silent Hobo.
The poster applications are pretty great. Maybe the Holi-Festival-color-powder-explosion is a little on the cheesy side but they still look fun. The grungy ones with the players in rooms like where Pennywise might come out of have a nice vibe that matches well with the logo. In the posters there is also a display version of the typography with the texture of the ball and it’s yet another strong element in the identity.
Overall, this is a great redesign that undoubtedly adds energy to the organization and that feels very appropriate to Great Britain with a visual approach that other countries couldn’t pull off.