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AFL Women’s unveils brand mark by PUSH

The AFL today unveiled its much anticipated ‘W’ brand mark for AFL Women’s, developed by brand consultancy PUSH Collective.

The bold mark represents a new take on the game of AFL and celebrates the extraordinary professional athletes from across Australia who will soon be able to play football in an elite women’s competition.

“The launch of AFL Women’s is a milestone in Australia’s sporting history. Our team was determined to create a brand identity that expressed a new perspective on the game and its traditions – an identity that encapsulates both the familiar and the progressive nature of the elite women’s style of play. We are thrilled to be a part of creating new history for the players and fans who are driving AFL Women’s, and helping to inspire future generations who no longer have to wonder whether it’s possible for women to play at the elite level,” said Ken Shadbolt, executive creative director of PUSH Collective.

While exploring the unique shapes of the AFL goal posts and goal square, the PUSH team found a way to fashion these iconic elements into a deceptively simple ‘W’ mark. The ‘W’ mark will feature prominently in the lead up to next year’s competition, and will be supported by a new visual identity system that has been designed to challenge preconceptions of how football is presented in this country.

The new brand mark was revealed in a short launch video – also created by PUSH – featuring many of the league’s star players.  

 

 

AFL Marketing Manager – Brand, Jemma Wong said: “This is such a historic moment for the AFL brand. We wanted to create something that was bold, future-forward and modern, but resonated strongly with the players and fans of AFL Women’s. It also needed to be designed for digital environments and small screens as well as carrying weight in traditional media.

“The AFL Women’s brand positioning, ‘See What We Create’, places the athletes at the heart of the brand, empowering them to co-create and build the future of the league with us for future generations. We consulted with the Football Advisory Group, shared this work with clubs and players and worked closely with PUSH Collective to create a contemporary design that was powerful and aspirational. We are delighted with the results delivered by Ken Shadbolt and his team.”

Thanks to APN and QMS, the brand mark was on display today in near Flinders St Station on digital billboard sites to celebrate the launch.

Video credits: 

Creative direction: PUSH Collective
Motion design: Gramm
Sound design: Samplify

 

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PUSH writes Olympic brand article for this month’s Marketing Magazine

 As Rio prepares to host the world at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, PUSH Collective’s co-founder and executive creative director, Ken Shadbolt reflects on his experience working with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games to create the Look of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying the inexorable rise and influence of The Olympic Movement throughout the twentieth and (so far at least) twenty-first centuries. Whichever way you look at it – the world’s largest sporting event; the world’s biggest sporting franchise; or, the world’s largest television audience – the numbers alone are extraordinary. Add to that the profound cultural and historical dimensions of The Olympic Movement and it becomes something of a phenomenon worthy of closer scrutiny.

At the center of The Movement’s success is one of the most sought after brand associations on the planet. No other brand has captured the hearts and minds of successive generations of athletes, governments, sponsors, broadcasters and spectators.

But why? What separates the Olympics Games from any other sporting world championships? Why is the Olympic brand so revered?

In exploring the helm of The Olympic Movement – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – you’ll find a seemingly incongruous orchestration of three dichotomies that define the Olympic brand. 

1. Idealism and commercialism

Imagine a brand that combines the best of Nike with the best of the United Nations and you’re some way towards understanding why the Olympic brand is so powerful.

On one hand, the Olympic brand behaves like a humanitarian brand. It places idealism and morality above all other interests. On the other hand, its association with the world’s hottest contemporary athletes gives it an edge and dynamism unlike any non-commercial organisation.

I was a little skeptical after hearing the Games referred to in one briefing session as ‘a place where the world of sport and a yearning for peace meet’. While it’s easy to dismiss such lofty notions as idealistic and out of touch, it’s precisely these values that elevate the brand beyond any other sporting event, and allow Olympism to fulfill some fundamentally human need to aspire to a higher purpose. Paradoxically, it’s these same Olympic values that are the source of the brand’s commercial value.

Commercial partners are critical to securing the enormous financial requirements of organising the world’s largest event. But it’s by no means laissez-faire. These commercial partners pay handsomely with the expectation of the IOC ruthlessly protecting and upholding the Olympic values even when it may restrict their own communication plans. The IOC’s ability to achieve their financial requirements without compromising the Olympic ideals is critical to the brand’s success.

It’s not often appreciated that the IOC has mandated a strict ‘clean’ venue policy prohibiting any commercial sponsorship on the sporting field-of-play of all events at the Games. As Sydney’s Program Manager of Look, Susie Grierson rightly pointed out in the lead up to the 2000 Games, the Olympic arena must feel ‘sacrosanct’. Many athletes cite this commercial-free approach as what separates the Olympic Games from all other sporting experiences. There are stories of hardened professional athletes who plan to treat the Games ‘just like any other event’ only to walk out onto the pristine arena to be completely overwhelmed by the sight of the Olympic rings in this context.

While the IOC is famous for its tough negotiating tactics to secure the highest bids for broadcasting rights, they have also turned away higher bids from private broadcasters to keep the Games with a free-to-air channel. This ensures they remain true to their values by allowing everyone with access to a television to afford to watch the Games.

It is this fine balance of humanitarian values and commercial appeal that sits at the heart of the brand.

2. Ruthless consistency and constant reinterpretation

It is sometimes said that The Olympic Movement is just one bad Games away from total disaster.

In the lead up to the Sydney Games, we were extremely aware of the need to deliver something special that would restore faith in The Olympic Movement after the controversy of rogue commercial agendas had undermined the previous Games in Atlanta. While Sydney 2000 was lauded as ‘the best Games ever’ by outgoing IOC president Samaranch, Atlanta was something of a close call for the IOC, and one that heightened their desire for control of every aspect of future Games.

The Olympic brand has since become one of the most tightly managed and highly protected brands in the world today. However the IOC must carefully walk a line of assuredness of delivery without suppressing the individuality of each host city’s approach.

 

Consider for a moment there were no host cities, and every Olympic Games was held in the IOC’s hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland. Certainly it would provide a substantial cost saving, fewer security concerns, far less political complexities, and the opportunity to hone a perfectly consistent Games experience year after year. But this predictability would kill the one of the defining characteristics of the Olympic brand – constant cultural reinterpretation.

It’s the interpretation of Olympic values through a local cultural lens that that reinvigorates the Games every few years. This diversity also fulfills a very practical requirement to provide the footage of each Games with a unique ‘cultural date stamp’ allowing easy identification of historical footage in subsequent years. In recent years, the Olympic brand is considerably richer for the ancient connections of Athens 2004, the shear spectacle of Beijing 2008, and the youth focus of the London 2012 Games.

Hosting an Olympic Games is one of the most high-stake franchises imaginable. From the IOC’s perspective, they hand their most cherished possession – the reputation of the Olympic brand – to a new host city at each Games. From the host city’s perspective, they will be challenged to both nuture and protect the Olympic brand while imbuing the Games with their local cultural perspective.

This opportunity sees governments and most creative professionals clambering for the international credibility that a potential Olympic association may bring. Get it right and the host cities can share in an economic, cultural and reputational afterglow for years to come. However, as we saw with Atlanta, get it wrong and risk suffering the scrutiny and indignation of the world’s media.

 3. Ancient traditions and progressive leadership

Having to contemplate what it meant for Sydney to host the ‘Millennium Games’ seemed at times to be an impossible conundrum. This wrestling of meaning and relevance between ancient traditions and modern expectations is another defining aspect the Olympic brand.

In 1896, the founder of the Modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, revived the spirit of the Ancient Games from Olympia in Greece as the basis of the Modern Games. With that decision came symbols, ceremonies and rituals that continue to imbue and differentiate the Olympic brand today.

With a heritage older than Christianity, and not unlike a modern day religion, The Olympic Movement must navigate respect for the traditions that have served the brand well over many decades, with the need to remain relevant to future generations. Even today, the flame that lights each Olympic Cauldron is still ignited by the sun at a strangely ancient ceremony in Olympia, before making its way via the torch relay to the host city. In today’s increasingly cynical world, how much longer can the Games continue these traditions?

And yet, despite perceptions of the IOC as bureaucratic custodians obsessed with preserving Olympic traditions, there’s mounting evidence to suggest they’re acutely aware of the need for progressive leadership.

Who would have thought a few years ago that an Olympic gold medal would be awarded for sports like BMX or snowboarding? The decision to include these sports was a deliberate attempt by the IOC to widen the appeal of the Olympic brand to include teenagers more interested in EPSN’s X Games that anything Olympic.

Among forty initiatives aimed at keeping the Games relevant in the coming years is an extraordinary initiative aimed at encouraging mixed gender sports. Even in the highly progressive world of commercial sport, the introduction of mixed gender sports could see The Olympic Movement take the lead to challenge one of the final frontiers of equality in sport – a radical departure from the Ancient Games’ exclusively masculine traditions.

And so, with the mandatory pre-Games jitters now upon the Rio – political instability, economic uncertainty, water quality issues, and a looming Zika catastrophe ­– there’s plenty for the IOC to worry about.

Having experienced first hand how Sydney worried its way throughout the lead up to one of the most successful Games (remember the concerns over threats of terrorism, traffic chaos, and a supposedly woeful Opening Ceremony), I’m confident that once the Cauldron is alight and Brazil tastes success on the sporting field, the Olympic Movement will be all the stronger for adding its first Latin American chapter to its remarkable narrative.

 

Ken Shadbolt is co-founder and Executive Creative Director of the brand consultancy PUSH Collective.  Ken was Group Design Director of the team that created the Emblem and Look of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He has also created brand identities for many sporting brands including Cricket Australia, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 FINA World Championships, One HD, Mark Webber, and is currently working with the AFL to create the new Women’s League logo.

 

 

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Macquarie University: breaking free from conventional thinking

‘”What’s it like in there?”, a driver asked Juliet Harper as he gave her a lift and nodded towards the concrete gloom: “Funny place to put a uni – they say it’s different to the others, got grades instead of marks and these semesters instead of terms and mothers bring their kids to classes. That right?”. Juliet Harper remembers above all the hopefulness, the “novelty and sheer possibility of what could be done”, the confidence that “things could be and would be different.”‘

That’s how one of the first students of Macquarie University, 50 years ago, remembers university in the book ‘Liberality of Opportunity. A History of Macquarie University 1964-1989’. It was the 60s, and a new university campus with a distinctive, Brutalist architecture had just been built in the orchards north of Sydney.

Over time the brand had lost the ability to inspire and unite

Things have changed a lot since then, and Macquarie University now lies at the centre of Australia’s largest high-tech precinct. However, over the years, as the world and the city around it kept evolving, the University has struggled to embrace and update its original raison d’etre. What had started as a pioneering university – a small but visionary alternative to the ‘sandstone universities’, at the forefront of many innovations – had become just another large, mid-tier university. By all means a good university, but one whose brand punched below its weight – perceived as being a bit ordinary, and confused in its positioning over the years.

With a new Vice-Chancellor in charge, the University was determined to create a more distinctive and inspiring narrative.

Reclaiming the audacity to challenge conventions

The development of the new narrative was to be approached as a comprehensive effort, aimed at all the University’s stakeholders, starting with its staff. It was not a conventional marketing exercise, but the articulation of a ‘shared identity’, as the brand project would be called.

After a competitive pitching process, PUSH was appointed to run the project. It took place over the course of a year and was structured in four phases: discovery, brand strategy, creative development and implementation. It was deeply consultative and focused on Macquarie University as the parent brand while encompassing all the many entities that together form the University – from faculties and schools to research centres, student organisations and partnerships with industry.

The brand strategy has injected a new sense of purpose into Macquarie University and its culture – it speaks of audacity and breaking free from conventional thinking. A new brand proposition centred on the essence ‘nurtured to break free’ establishes a clear link to the University’s creation story, while providing the basis for a challenger role in the higher education landscape and a rich platform for ongoing evolution.

A new visual and verbal identity projects the University’s creation story into the future

Around a more confident parent brand, a new brand architecture was introduced throughout the entire University portfolio. New principles were explored, negotiated and established. They recognise the diversity and specific requirements of individual entities while aligning them more closely to Macquarie University as a whole. High-profile institutions such as the prestigious graduate business school MGSM and the state-of-the-art hospital on the campus have become more clearly part of the bigger Macquarie University story. They lift the profile of their parent brand while borrowing its strength and authoritativeness.

With the brand proposition and architecture completed, PUSH evolved the visual and verbal brand identity. After careful consideration, the existing brandmark – introduced only a few years earlier – was replaced. Despite all efforts, it had never succeeded in winning the hearts of staff, students or alumni, and was seen as devoid of meaning. In the new brandmark, the traditional symbol of the University, the Macquarie Lighthouse, has been brought back and reinterpreted in a contemporary manner. The continuity with the University’s creation story is seen as a source of confidence and as the inspiration to explore and experiment.

The new brandmark is surrounded by a new identity. This new identity projects the University’s narrative outside campus life and into the bigger world – engaged with the bigger issues that will determine the future of humanity.

The new identity touches every facet of the University’s communication and allows it to speak to different audiences with different tonalities while clearly emanating from the same brand. It brings flexibility as well as consistency.

The roll-out has started from the inside out, with a new faculty and research framework

At the completion of the project, PUSH conducted extensive training to help the University’s in-house staff and its suppliers embrace and apply the new strategy and identity. We also worked closely with Macquarie in the selection and briefing of the advertising agency as well as the architects and artists who will help evolve the campus, making it again a beacon of freedom and optimism for new generations.

True to the spirit of the ‘Shared Identity’ project, the new brand strategy and identity were introduced to the University’s staff first, with a live Q&A session. The event was a success, and was soon followed by a gala with alumni and philanthropists against the magnificent backdrop of the Sydney Harbour. It was the occasion to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary and be inspired by the ambitiousness of new ‘proof points’: the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences would soon be set up and a new framework established to foster multi-disciplinary research.

Now 50 years old, Macquarie University looks at the future with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.

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PUSH to help shine the spotlight on stroke

PUSH has been appointed by the National Stroke Foundation to undertake comprehensive market research and evolve the organisation’s brand positioning.

The National Stroke Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that works with the public, government, health professionals, stroke survivors and carers to reduce the impact of stroke on the Australian community. It is the only national organisation focused solely on stroke.

Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. However, this is not yet widely acknowledged within the community. The National Stroke Foundation is undertaking the brand positioning project as part of its mission to increase awareness of the risks and impacts of stroke, and to become one of Australia’s most recognised health charities.

“With so many not-for-profit organisations competing for awareness and funding, we need to make sure our brand has its own space. PUSH will help us to understand what our customers and stakeholders think about us and where we need to take our brand in the future. PUSH have shown us their passion not just for our brand but for our cause, and we’re delighted to be partnering with them on this important project,” says Matt McDonell, National Manager, Marketing and Brand of the National Stroke Foundation

PUSH is proud to help champion the National Stroke Foundation’s cause. “Listening to the stories of stroke survivors and their carers, you realise how complex and wide-ranging the impact of stroke is on people’s lives, and how vital the work by the National Stroke Foundation is. The organisation needs more recognition and funding in order to put stroke at the centre of our public consciousness and ensure prevention and support programs become ever more effective. Having a stronger brand is just another step in the right direction,” says PUSH’s Erminio Putignano.

The new appointment follows a growing involvement of PUSH in the healthcare and not-for-profit sectors. The PUSH team is already working with HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health insurer, and RDNS, a leading specialist in aged care across Australasia.

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Branding a start-up: Optal and its mission to streamline payment processes around the world

A new brand created by PUSH has just hit the market: Optal, which operates in the complex world of payment processes.

Born as PSP International, our client’s organisation was set up to redefine how business-to-business payments work across a variety of industries starting with travel and tourism. Armed with a unique know-how, the company had rapidly grown and established partnerships with the likes of MasterCard, while remaining a start-up at heart.

PUSH’s focus has been to distil the essence of the company’s ethos and competencies, and bring it to life in a way that resonates equally strongly with staff, partners, clients and future investors. As is always critical for start-ups, Optal’s brand creation is informed by an inside-out, as much as an outside-in, perspective.

The Optal brand has been shaped to stand out among different competitors – on one side the big, slow moving financial services providers, and on the other side, technology-led enterprises that are narrowly focused in their approach. Optal is positioned as an agile specialist who thinks and acts big. Its ingenious solutions strip payment processes of their customary inefficiency to boost profitability for all parties involved along the way.

PUSH’s brand strategy led to renaming the company and creating a new brand identity that rebels against the clichéd language used in the finance sector. Highly graphic in its approach, the Optal brand projects a sense of intellectual intrigue and invites audiences to think more smartly about the inner workings of financial transactions.

Now ready for its next stage of growth, from its offices in London and Melbourne, the future looks bright for the team at Optal. “The process of working with PUSH was insightful, it gave us a new sense of clarity on our capabilities. The brand story is distinctive, potent and true to us. The new brand has given us the confidence and authority we needed on a world stage,” says Rob Bishop, Managing Director of Optal.

Following the successful launch of Optal, the PUSH team has been appointed to evolve the eNett brand which was established as a joint venture between Optal and Travelport to provide integrated payment solutions tailored for the travel industry.

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PUSH joins faculty of Tractor Design School

Ken Shadbolt, co-founder of PUSH, will join the faculty of Tractor Design School as an industry teacher for the upcoming Industry Design Program in Melbourne.

Tractor is a unique design and digital school whose aim is to produce the most sought after industry ready graduates by offering a range of advanced industry programs, all of which are delivered by industry leaders in both Melbourne and Sydney.

Head of School, Simon Pemberton commented, “Tractor’s Industry Design program creates an unparalleled learning experience by teaming up with some of the most experienced and successful designers and thinkers in the country.

It’s for this reason and more we’re delighted to welcome Ken Shadbolt to the Tractor team for the inaugural Melbourne industry program. With over 20 years of experience working with some of Australia’s highest profile brands, Ken’s involvement will be invaluable and we’re really looking forward to working with him in the coming months during the program.”

Applications for the first Industry Graphic Design program in Melbourne close in April. For more information about Tractor, have a look at the official website at www.tractor.edu.au

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The new MLC brand by PUSH goes live

As PUSH turns one, we are delighted to see one of our first projects go live.

MLC, part of the National Australian Bank (NAB) and one of the oldest and largest wealth management brands in the country, has been re-positioned with a new visual and verbal identity created by PUSH.

The re-launch of the MLC brand is part of NAB’s plan to excel as a supplier of services ‘for superannuation and the ageing population’, and it signals a radical departure from what MLC used to be.

A new energy, wit and thought leadership has been injected into the brand to help it engage better with consumers, financial advisers and corporate clients across a broad portfolio of products and channels. It is a new MLC that reflects the values and aspirations of a generation of Australians with a more savvy, cosmopolitan and active outlook on life.

Featuring the new identity, MLC is moving centre stage in the national debate about how Australians should plan ahead to enjoy their retirement.

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Fiji Airways wins a ‘Best of’ REBRAND 100 Global Award

We are honoured to announce that the rebrand of Fiji Airways has been acknowledged with a ‘Best of’ Award at the recent REBRAND 100 Global Awards – the world’s most respected recognition for repositioned brands.

In partnership with renowned Fijian Masi artist Makereta Matemosi, Sally Anderson (now Creative Director at Brand Union, Beijing) and Ken Shadbolt (now Executive Creative Director at PUSH Collective) led the creative development of the rebrand, while still working at FutureBrand Australia.

David Green, Senior Marketing Manager for Fiji Airways said: “We are delighted that all the hard work behind the rebrand has been acknowledged with this award. Sally and Ken were key contributors to the development of the Fiji Airways identity, who as a part of the core re-branding team, never wavered in their desire to create something truly authentic and extraordinary for both the airline and for Fiji. Their respect for Fijian culture, and their personal commitment to the project, has helped us to deliver a proud brand identity – one that is continuing to garner recognition around the world.”

Ken commented: “We are thrilled that people from around the world have acknowledged that a truly progressive brand can be generated from the most traditional and authentic art. It has been a humbling experience to witness the pride amongst the Fiji Airways staff for their new brand and the world’s renewed interest in their country.”

A full list of the 2014 REBRAND 100 Global Award winners can be found at: http://www.rebrand.com/2014-showcase.

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‘Beautiful work that works’ – PUSH’s experience goes centre stage at Pause Fest

Now in its fourth year, Pause Fest celebrates the digital world. It is “one event for the thinkers, practitioners and entrepreneurs of digital culture.” This year’s festival theme ‘Connected’ attracted a diverse selection of speakers including PUSH founders Erminio Putignano and Ken Shadbolt.

Erminio closed the ‘Masters of the Industry’ session, with a presentation on building brands in a hyper-connected world. He explained how brands should embrace a series of paradoxes, made all the more intense by emerging technological trends. Brands need to leverage big data while becoming better story-tellers, and engage more stakeholders while becoming firmer, even more polarising, in what they stand for.

Ken took to the ‘Creative Stage’ as part of a panel of five. Together with participants from BD Network, tkm9, Sixty 40 and CumminsRoss, the group discussed the topic ‘Beautiful work that works.’ The session looked to uncover the difference between commercial and artistic work, sharing opinions around a series of questions: can they come together? What does it take to make great work, and what makes great work effective? And can ugly work be effective in the right context? Emerging from the discussion was the importance of context in evaluating the effectiveness of creative work.

For more information on the festival and its contributors, have a look at the official website or the blog for all the highlights.

We look forward to the next edition of this thought provoking festival.

 

Photos courtesy of Pause Fest

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Macquarie University appoints PUSH to evolve its brand strategy and identity

Macquarie University in Sydney has selected PUSH to evolve its brand strategy and identity across its portfolio.

The appointment comes at a very important time in the history of the university. Professor S Bruce Dowton joined as Vice Chancellor last year and has recently released a strategic framework outlining the vision for the university as it approaches its 50th anniversary.

‘Given the complexity of the Macquarie University brand, the number of controlled and affiliated entities, faculties, research centres, and commercial organisations that sit under the Macquarie umbrella, its is vital that we achieve a robust and clearly mapped brand structure,’ a statement from the university explains.

The appointment of PUSH is the result of a competitive pitch. ‘We selected PUSH because they were clearly the right agency for us. They have a very clear, logical and proven methodology for developing brand strategy and brand architecture, and they have deep experience in the higher education sector,’ says Kathy Vozella, Director of Marketing at Macquarie University.

Erminio Putignano, co-founder of PUSH, says: ‘How universities build their brands is evolving radically as they realise it’s no longer just an advertising exercise aimed at students but a whole-of-enterprise effort. And these education institutions are high profile, international brands, that represent Australia’s largest services export.’

‘Macquarie is a young university coming of age,’ says Mr Putignano. ‘Over the years it has established significant areas of excellence in teaching and research and introduced a series of Australia-firsts with the establishment of its new hospital and the Australian Hearing Hub. We look forward to helping its brand grow in clarity, breadth and ambition as it reaches the highly symbolic 50th anniversary.’

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