Global rebrand and design system for Top Gear
Top Gear is the BBC’s biggest global brand, watched by an audience of 350 million across 214 territories. Despite its wide reach in territories such as the US, China and Russia, the brand featured an outdated design and no formal documentation.
– How might we express in visual form the true value of the brand?
– How might we help brand managers across the world maximise revenue through line extensions and keep brand integrity at the same time.
I redesigned the Top Gear logo to give it a brand lift and better express the brand's value proposition. I also devised a design system that allows for expeditious, decentralised roll-outs and ensures brand consistency in every medium.
As many global brands that have been around for some time, Top Gear suffered from an outdated design and a lack of governing principles to keep brand consistency across its myriad of channels and products. The brand urgently needed a refresh and a consistent expression.
The solution required a re-design that would reflect the brand's real value and express its true character, centred on the motto "Mates, Motor and Mocking About". It also included a design system that would allow teams around the globe to consistently repurpose a vast suite of merchandise like toys, books, games and live shows, and continue to develop new products in any medium and without violating the brand identity.
The project was structured into three work packages: (1) brand redesign; (2) design system and documentation; and (3) asset library production. Each package was run in time-boxed sprints and where possible, packages where developed in parallel. This allowed us to deliver in the highly ambitious timeframe of 3 months, while also maintaining the required approval and reporting structure that included C-level marketing as well as product management globally and across all regions.
The old Top Gear design lacked boldness, weight and presence. There was also a perception problem: The cog design was often mistaken for a cutting-saw. Furthermore, the design execution needed a crisp and refined finish to help translate its value to visual form.
The final design solution brought together two complementary components: a bold yet refined typography featuring a treatment inspired by sports cars' badges in combination with a robust and muscular cog device. The type displayed a bevel effect and immaculate matte finish while the cog introduced a rough, bruised element that signified the true nature of the show – presenters constantly pushing themselves and machines to breaking point, often damaging or destroying things in the process.
The second part of the project consisted of formalising a set of design principles and clear rules to help brand managers and designers to stay consistent when developing new brand assets in the future.
We created a formal design system documentation where the construction principles and architecture accurately reflected the brand strategy globally. Some cases needed to be integrated with 3rd party brand properties such as regional TV channels. For example, regional lock-ups needed to include the region's name in the bottom-right in lieu of the BBC logo on the top-left. All such scenarios needed to be accounted for and fully tested to ensure that the teams around the world are not only supplied with all starting assets, but also with clear guidelines for future work.
The design revamp has helped the brand maintain its top position and geared it up to continue exploring more revenue opportunities worldwide.
Client BBC Worldwide
Concept and Brand design Vilmar Pellisson
Design coordination Mike Heath
Brand strategy George Barton
Copywriting Vilmar Pellisson