Launched this week at the Olympics in Rio, TTX (Table Tennis X) is a new version of table tennis initiated by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the governing body for all international table tennis associations, to attract younger players to the game. TTX is meant to be, like, super exciting and fun with modified rules like sets being two minutes long, serving any which way you want, and having the option to yell “wildcard” before serving allowing the player to multiply their points. It really just sounds like drunken ping pong but let’s roll with it. The new identity for the sport has been designed by the Singapore office of Brand Union.
Beyond being a new sport, the TTX brand has been created with a lifestyle spirit at its heart, with the ambition of becoming a catalyst for disruption and high-level engagement within the category. The new identity, ‘Live the Beat’, uses a vibrant multi-coloured palette to convey the inclusive, diverse nature of the new format. Created for an ‘always-on audience’, all of the elements of the identity express the spontaneous, freestyle nature of the experience and its intended audiences.
It has been a couple of decades since the rise of X-this and X-that for extreme versions of normal sports so it’s kind of fun, in an ironic nostalgic way, to see it again. The simple “T”s in the logo are offset by a wilder “X” that breaks from the baseline and x-height because it’s extreme. You could read into it that it reflects the bounce of the ball at fast paces. It’s a decent logo and remarkably restrained given how the rest of the identity plays out. Using the space to the right of the “X” to spurt different stuff starts to add some extreme-ness to it. Having a tame logo helps TTX play more like a little brother to ITTF (and its logo) instead of being more like the crazy cousin that smokes and carries a pocket knife.
In application, they have gone for a more-is-more-wait-we-need-some-more aesthetic that uses about three or five different visual tropes to generate excitement: there are halftone patterns, squiggly lines, radial motifs, brush lettering, silhouetted humans, and DIN condensed to tie it all together. It feels like it’s trying too hard to connect with young people. Overall, I’ll admit that there is a certain appeal to the whole look and it does manage to convey an extra burst of energy but, like the premise of TTX itself, it mostly leaves you scratching your head… 2 minutes at a time.