Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Tennis Australia has revealed the new identity of the Australian Open, a rebrand aimed at engaging new audiences and upgrading the brand mark not only to better resonate digitally, but to also reflect the sport’s wider appeal as an entertainment offering.
Tennis Australia marketing manager, Jo Juler, said the motivation for the master rebrand to AO - and the move away from using the ‘black image of a man serving a ball’- was a reflection of how the brand has evolved into a wider event.
The brand repositioning program took 12 months and was developed in partnership with branding agency, Landor Australia. The brief was to enhance Australia’s premier sporting event as an entertainment brand that connects with new audiences and creates a world of tennis around them.
“The Serving Man brand mark didn’t really represent what the tournament and what the event has now become,” Juler told CMO. “We have over 700,00 people coming, of which tennis is an anchor, but a lot of people just come for the atmosphere that is the event, the music and the lovely vibe.”
Juler said the older logo also didn’t translate well on digital platforms. “It was quite a difficult brand mark, being orange in a box,” she said. “We just wanted something that was very simple, really agile and flexible, that we could then use on all of our digital platforms.”
During the last Australian Open, Tennis Australia installed new digital screens and digital walls into all of its arenas. “We have gone very digital in terms of our approach, so it was time to upgrade the brand mark to make sure it is reflecting what the tournament now was,” Juler said.
The time to rebrand was also significant given its audience is so digital savvy and on a host of digital platforms, particularly the 18-55 age group.
“This allows us to have a lot more fun and be able to express a lot more about the attitude of the event through our digital advertising,” Juler said, adding that this year’s digital spend has increased by about 20 per cent.
The marketing strategy behind the rebrand was about conveying the message of playfulness.
“We are a premium event, but we have a really playful nature about everything that we do and we have a lot of fun,” Juler continued. “It is an event the players have dubbed ‘the happy slam,’ because it’s iconic and very Australian. Everything we do with our brand, our look, or our activations has to be premium because it’s Grand Slam, but it’s about bringing that playful nature, that Australianism into everything we do.”
Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley agreed, saying the rebrand is giving the organisation the flexibility to engage more deeply with fans, partners and players.
“The Australian Open is renowned as one of the most innovative sports and entertainment events in the world. To ensure we optimise the many new media opportunities available now and in the future, we also needed to evolve our look and feel, make it more relevant globally and more adaptable in an increasingly digital world,” Tiley said.
As part of the rebrand, Tennis Australia is using new shapes and colours on its Facebook page, and Juler cited the example of a Novac Djokovic image. Further features will be added to the AO website in the coming week. The activity is part of the “plan your summer” campaign where fans can go through and choose the session they want to buy and see the best moments on that day from past Australian Open tournaments, all in new colours, she added.
“We are going to be really bringing this to life - and we have a lot of ideas around the A and the O to bring it to life with the fans," she said.
“Affectionately, the fans have always called us the AO. And we are working with smaller platforms than ever before in terms of people buying their tickets online. So it is really important you have a really simple, easy logo that is really recognisable. We are still the Australian Open, but you will see a lot more of the AO in our marketing.”
Asked how far the branding will extend, Juler said every asset of the Australian Open will feature the new brand mark, extending globally. “The Australian Open is such a huge global business now - it is no longer just an event in Australia. We have a huge global audience.”
Looking back over the history of Tennis Australia, Juler said it is a pivotal time for the organisation.
“This is a big event for Australia. And it is getting bigger - the government has invested a lot of money. Our footprint is a lot bigger,” she said.
“It’s time the brand really kept pace with where the event is today. We sit on the world stage with three other Grand Slams so we take the responsibility very seriously. It isn’t just about wanting to change a logo, it is all about what the fans want - it’s an experience for the fans and we’re creating more engagement.”