Responses by Michael C. Place, creative director, Studio.Build
Background: Each year, Nike’s Track + Field (T + F) identity is updated to keep it fresh, exciting and relevant. Nike sponsors a number of T+F events (invitationals) around America, and the update is used to brand these events. The target audience is professionals and non-professionals—people who have a love for the individual events that sit under the wider Track + Field umbrella.
Reasoning: We originally collaborated with Nike on the 2016 Track + Field branding and identity. That version was based on authenticity, graphic events from the visual vernacular of the Track was used to build the identity. The update for 2018 included a new graphic element we pulled from the track. We called it the “acceleration graphic.” This was then used in varying ways, always in a grid and never arbitrarily placed.
Challenges: The acceleration graphic is essentially a triangle. We had to build a system that worked with the existing elements of the identity we designed in 2016. But it also had to work hard on its own. Finding the right balance was one of the hardest parts of the project.
Favorite details: How we made such a simple shape (the acceleration graphic) do so much, and it was very evocative of speed, acceleration and dynamism. Rebecca Parker, the art director who led the project at Nike, mailed me towards the end of the project saying she respected the way we did so much with such a simple shape.
Visual influences: All the visual influences came from the track itself, including all the graphic markers the runners, throwers and jumpers use. It’s all about authenticity, bringing nothing in that doesn’t belong from that world.
Time constraints: The time constraints really worked for us. We are based in the United Kingdom and Nike is in the US. We would work on the creative during the day, and send it over at the end of our day. Nike would then give us feedback during its day and it would be ready for us the following morning.