Rallying Devoted Fandoms

Die-hard fans tie up their identity with their favourite brand. Central to their life, these brands are worn by enthusiastic devotees like a badge of honour, something they’re proud to be intertwined and associated with. So when these beloved brands need to evolve –  due to growth or the need to create cultural relevance with a new fanbase – we approach working with them with care and consideration to ensure ardent supporters aren’t alienated.

Fandoms go hand in hand with brand loyalty, with fierce emotional connections forged. As such, there may be adversity to change. To address this, we not only ensure fan consultation forms a critical component of our process, but we become fans ourselves. Attending matches, setting up lunchtime gaming clubs or starting our own online store, we embody fandoms to create brands that put fans-first.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a football team, gaming franchise or resale app, the challenge is the same. When a brand is so integral to fans’ personal identities, how do you bring about necessary change while remaining considerate of existing affection and allegiance?


Uniting fans who go all in

One of Germany’s most popular football clubs, Borussia Dortmund are renowned for their passionate supporters. With their fandom expanding in both domestic and international spheres, BVB needed to modernise to retain relevance for established and emerging audiences across every platform.

We got ourselves over to Signal Iduna Park, watching the game shoulder to shoulder with fans - chanting, screaming, jumping. We wanted to get to the core of what makes BVB ultras so passionate and imbue this into the new brand, so we consulted die-hard fans throughout the process to create an identity that authentically reflects who they are - a crucial component of the club. The result is a strategy that champions the intensity Dortmund has become known for – ‘The Black and Yellow community, together we go all in’ and a visual identity that takes inspiration from the most iconic assets of their home ground.

See BVB case study

“Drawing directly from Borussia Dortmund’s home ground, the rebrand roots itself in history whilst remaining unwaveringly contemporary.”

Read more about BVB's rebrand on It's Nice That


Championing unique attitudes and aesthetics

“And it’s been interesting over the last few years seeing brands that I love and respect doing things that look very similar to the Depop branding thing. I think DesignStudio set the business on the right path, and then Depop itself has obviously had a cultural and creative impact.”

Peter Semple
Chief Marketing Officer, Depop

Second-hand marketplace Depop is a cultural sensation, revolutionising how a whole generation shop, with a user base that focuses on creativity and curation. Community is central to the brand’s appeal and success, challenging traditional shopping experiences and retail brands.

We knew the brand needed to encapsulate the unique individuals that compose this eclectic and expressive community so we started a movement - “We the unfollowers”. We utilised user bios directly from the platform, emphasising the vast styles, subcultures and personal expressions that Depop is home to. The brand and campaign is built on the idea of rejecting the norms, being proudly and authentically yourself. While Depop’s essential offer is a pre-loved marketplace, the community has taken it far beyond that, into a platform where people can express their true selves and inspire others to do the same.

See Depop case study


 Harnessing fan pride to build legends

LCK’s fiercely proud all-or-nothing supporters are recognised as some of the most fervent across all of Riot Games League of Legend Championships. The South Korean league is known for the best players, most wins and elite levels of gameplay - giving fans solid ammunition to shout about their allegiance. But the LCK brand was lacking the confidence, unity and soul its fans embody.

Despite the Covid lockdowns, we fully immersed ourselves in the LCK world, connecting virtually with shoutcasters, die-hard fans and pro-players and diving into South Korea’s rich gaming culture, to define a more layered story. With such a monumental reputation, our strategy ‘We Make Legends’ epitomises the unwavering belief LCK fans have in the brand. Supported by a ‘Godlike’ attitude that positions the league on a tier above the rest, we created a whole new visual world, designed to embody this spirit. Elements are simple and minimal, manifesting the confidence of a legendary icon that doesn’t need to shout, leaving the brazen out-spoken support to the fans.

“DesignStudio has been a great advisor and partner in getting us a step closer to our ambition [to become the 'Premier League' of esports]. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to meet in real life, but we could feel their passion and dedication at every moment through the screen. It was an honour for us to make legends with DesignStudio.”

Sean Oh
Head of KR Esports, Riot Games

See LCK case study