Few industries have experienced the levels of growth and transformation that the world of esports has in recent years. With viewership numbers that rival the Super Bowl, and media deals and sponsorships on a par with many traditional sports, it's no wonder the industry's valuation of $2bn+ is already felt to be pessimistic.
Yet the growth and professionalism of the industry has put new pressures on the brands within it. The modern esports brand needs to credibly span multiple worlds, simultaneously acting as a governing body, a broadcast and content creator, an event and a consumer brand in itself. Due to their relative infancy and with the needs of each league so wide and varied, few brands in this space have yet had to consider their brand ecosystems so holistically and build comprehensive systems to flex across this increasing variety of touchpoints.
It's a challenge for the category at large. And one that Riot Games brought to us in 2021.
Beyond the complexities of creating a multifaceted brand, there was a core challenge to solve: to define Wild Rift as a sport that stands on its own, not a ‘light’ or ‘casual’ version of its PC counterpart. As both use the same intellectual property (i.e. characters), it was important not to let the decade-long success of the PC version overshadow new endeavours. With mobile gaming growing exponentially (it's now bigger than console and PC gaming combined), the brand had to frame itself as a worthy equivalent.
With Wild Rift we were given the trust to rethink the whole thing from scratch and create a fully fledged ecosystem in its own right.
Future icons are born in the wild
To communicate that this sport is something unique and attractive in its own right, we looked at the new generation of players engaging in it. More diverse and multi-dimensional, we drew inspiration and parallels from modern pop icons, people like Jayden Smith and Billie Eilish. Unlike legends of the old that felt godlike and often hard to relate to, this new generation are proud of their quirks, they're relatable, and multifaceted.
Our sport’s role became to unearth this new generation of icons which we unlocked with the brand mission of Future icons born in the wild.
A phone-eye-view of the world
Our visual language is inspired by the mobile format of the game. The swipes and taps express the flair and style expression of each player, helping depict a high pace sport that has a wider, more diverse player base. The dramatic perspectives of the selfie camera guided our layouts, art direction and expressive typography.
Type designed to flex
We introduced a type system that could easily roll out across the world. A variable family that created global consistency but allowed tonal variations throughout regions and communications.
Collaborating with Grilli Type we created typeface inspired by our gestures, designed to be stretched and distorted, giving the brand its distinctive look whilst requiring a minimal effort to use and adapt.
Celebrating regional pride
Once we created the masterbrand, we embarked on sprints to localise the brand for eight regions across the world. We ran gamified strategic workshops and focus groups to engage the fans, getting under the skin of what makes each region unique. These sessions gave us valuable insight into the differing perspectives on mobile gaming and provided common ground to rally the community.
Wild Rift: China
Inspired by the youthful momentum of a new generation of players, the league rallied around the idea of “The New Wave”. Liquid gestures bring dynamism, while bright pink hues break from the typical colours found in gaming.
Wild Rift: South East Asia
“Thrive in chaos” is a motto for the victors that emerge under SEAs unique pressure of diverse play-styles and constant competition. The motif – a diamond forged from the shards of it's six sub-regions.
Wild Rift: Europe, Middle East & East Africa
A homage to it’s history of diverging and shifting empires, an endlessly reconfiguring grid is the foundation of EMEA’s identity. The flag motif represents an alliance of the many countries under one banner.
A complex project in both breadth and scale that resulted in one of the most comprehensive, unique, global brand ecosystems esports has ever seen.James CarmichaelHead of Marketing, Global Esports (League of Legends & Wild Rift), Riot Games
A global event ecosystem
The brand architecture creates a clear framework and central narrative for future events, it allows Riot to benefit from the efficiency of consistent assets for a global organisation of its scale and introduces flexibility to constantly excite fans and challenge the status quo of sports branding.
Wild Rift experienced the biggest game launch ever. 65% of players were completely new to the League of Legends ecosystem. The first global competition, Horizon Cup, clocked 1.34 million peak viewers with broadcasts in 18 different languages.