London Marathon Events
A brand refresh for the world’s greatest marathon
London Marathon Events (LME) organises world-leading mass participation events in running, cycling and swimming that inspire more than 200,000 participants every year. Its portfolio of world-class events includes the Virgin Money London Marathon, the world’s greatest marathon, and RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling. LME gifts its trading surplus via corporate Gift Aid to its parent charity, The London Marathon Charitable Trust. Both organisations share a vision of Inspiring Activity and a mission to inspire and enable people from all demographics and of all abilities to become and remain physically active.
As part of a major branding and digital improvement project, LME turned to Dept to refresh the branding for the company and all its events to create a distinct personality that embodies its core values, and to develop a technical solution to centralise its digital touchpoints.
Taking inspiration from the LME community
London Marathon Events’ branding for its events has evolved organically over time, as new events were added to its portfolio, participant numbers increased, and sponsors and partners came on board. Its brand presence was cyclical, running in peaks and troughs throughout the year in line with its event calendar. There was a need to connect the dots across this cycle to develop a stronger presence throughout the whole year, and not just in the lead-up to its events.
LME brings remarkable people together and celebrates personal achievements that defy all odds. In the first phase of work, the brand refresh for the London Marathon, LME’s flagship event, our team took inspiration from this joint sense of achievement shared among its community.
The London Marathon, the most prestigious of LME’s events, is just the beginning of our work with LME. Our team became inspired by all of the events and activities organised by London Marathon Events and aspired to visually communicate the vibrancy of the company and its vision and work.
An artistic representation of the Marathon experience
Fresh visual branding
The London Marathon interacts with millions of diverse people. We selected a photography style that captures their inspiring moments, from the intensity of crossing the finish line to the journey of past, present and future athletes. The London Marathon is not just for elite athletes; its community comprises people of all abilities from all corners of the world. Their stories are told through authentic images that put people and emotion at the heart of the message, allowing onlookers to not only visualise the events, but also share in the emotion of the experience.
Colour is a big part of LME’s branding for the London Marathon. The distinctive red colour remains core to London Marathon, while a vibrant and versatile secondary palette has been introduced. Bringing high-energy, these secondary colours are to be used sparingly and are best placed in pairs for full effect. Gradients were also recommended to bring themes together in a natural and well-balanced way.
Custom patterns were created, giving depth to the London Marathon brand with exciting visual elements. Dept designers digitally stitched a unique set of geometric designs to represent the ground the athletes run on, the landmarks they see en-route, and the thousands of steps they take to the finish line. For example, lines were placed at a 26.2 degree angle, which exactly matches the mileage of the London Marathon.
Communicating brand personality
Words have a big impact on how an organisation is perceived, so Dept defined a tone of voice for the London Marathon to ensure its identity shone through in written and verbal form. Its use of language is community-centric, encouraging its audience to be the best they can be. It uses “we” generously to reflect the sense of community, and aims to build long-lasting connections with tailored, relatable content.
The London Marathon speaks with assured confidence and has a can-do attitude, using celebratory language, whether it’s referencing a monumental milestone or a small victory. It uses positive adjectives to inject enthusiasm and carries a conversational tone that’s easily understood.
For the typography, Dept selected round, modern typefaces to lead communications with clarity and energy. Dept also created an extensive library of type styles, named after some record-breaking marathoners.
The London Marathon logo is the most valuable brand asset, used online and offline to represent the event on the global stage. It’s a collaborative logo, always partnered with that of its lead sponsor. A set of rules were defined to place the two brand marks harmoniously side-by-side. Zones were created, separated by a key line, following formulas for clear space and scale. We also included contextual guidance for digital placements, aligning next to partners and adapting to colour.
Recreating brand guidelines
To blend creative components and ensure the longevity of the design, Dept created an in-depth design rulebook. It includes all of the dimensions and ratios for website images with how-to information. A ‘cutout’ approach is one of our recommendations, easily achieved by selecting an impactful photo from the storage library, removing the background and replacing it with one of the custom patterns.
A dynamic brand designed for the future
Dept’s creative team worked with LME to design a dynamic, scalable and future-ready brand for the London Marathon.
The introduction of statement patterns, a vivid colour palette, clear typefaces and a branded photography style has revived the London Marathon’s identity and achieved coherence across its entire brand estate.
The London Marathon branding was the launchpad for Dept’s partnership with LME. Our design, UX and development teams are now involved in plans to create seven new websites for the parent organisation and each of its events: London Marathon Events; The Vitality Big Half; the Vitality London 10,000; the Vitality Westminster Mile; the Standard Chartered Great City Race; RideLondon, and Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine. Keep your eyes peeled for the sleek digital implementation of this visual brand identity.