By Rachael Steven

Branding agency DixonBaxi has created a new on-air identity for BT Sport, which uses typographic animations and tweets from fans to capture the excitement of watching live events.

The identity is based around a series of animations featuring sporting phrases and colloqualisms such as ‘nail biter’ and ‘bring it on’, which will be used in between shows and during ad breaks. BT Sport will also be broadcasting tweets from viewers and sports fans to stimulate debate around matches and tournaments.

The colour scheme is taken from the BT brand marque, which the channel was keen to retain. Colour washes are also applied to imagery and clips promoting specific broadcasts (shown below).

Aporva Baxi, co-founder of DixonBaxi, says the aim was to create a more “irreverent and vibrant” tone of voice, in contrast to the more dramatic approach often favoured by sports broadcasters. The channel also wanted a new look that would allow it to respond to events in as close to real time as possible, creating more of a dialogue with viewers, but were keen to avoid anything “glam or glossy,” he says.

DixonBaxi has created hundreds of typographic sequences, and says the list of phrases will be added to on a rolling basis. Statements are designed to be “the kind of things you’d say in the pub to your mates”, says Baxi, and use three typefaces (Battersea, Tungsten and Effra), while BT’s TV font has been retained for channel signposting.

Animations can be pre-programmed, but they can also be triggered in response to events unfolding on screen – during a tense match, for example, phrases like ‘nail biter’ and more colloquial language may be used to reflect what’s happening in the game.

Baxi says social media comments broadcast on screen will be moderated, but the aim is to stimulate debate and present opposing points of view. “It’s also all about immediacy – making BT Sport feel as if it is always at the heart of the action – and creating a more active viewing experience, rather than a passive one. I think that’s something a lot of broadcasters are looking at now, but it’s especially relevant in sport,” he adds.

The identity is on-air only for now, though imagery will be used on social media, and may be used in the channel’s advertising in the future. DixonBaxi has also produced a series of screen-printed posters to promote the new look, which launched on Friday.

It’s a simple approach, but a refreshing one. Some of the phrases may seem a little cliched, but they work well in this context, giving the brand a bold, fun and informal tone of voice, as well as a noticeably different look and feel to its rivals.

While Channel 4 and other broadcasters have been displaying viewer’s tweets in ad breaks for some time, BT Sport’s rebrand places this commentary at the heart of its identity, giving fans something to engage with and more of a reason to stay tuned during ad breaks (MTV has also been experimenting with this since launching its new on-air identity back in June, though using video content instead of just tweets). The typographic approach and limited colour palette is a format that could work well on other applications too, from digital screens to print ads.

Read more here:: DixonBaxi's new identity for BT Sport