Launched days ahead of the 2022 Aintree race meeting, the Randox Grand National was treated to a brand makeover through a new partnership between property owner The Jockey Club and Bath-based agency Thisaway.
Previously The Grand National had largely been branded, marketed and promoted via the The Jockey Club’s umbrella visual identity, but for 2022 the UK’s most famous race benefited from its own branding, logo and assets to boost its profile as one of the country’s biggest annual sporting events. Following two years without crowds due to Covid-19, the task was to create an iconic brand which welcomed racing fans from all walks of life back to the event.
The race owner tasked Bath-based agency Thisaway to give the race a bespoke, fresh identity which adopted a bold typographic style to reflecting its sporting stature. The agency brief included a challenge to build race-specific brand equity to help drive potential sponsor sales and new customer acquisition.
The agency developed its approach based on the insight that the Grand National is an inclusive, popular, populist, people’s race: a race when then world stops to watch and one of the sport’s most famous occasions. An event where every rider and horse has a chance of winning and everyone around the world is welcome to get involved: from committed racing purists to once-a-year punters.
The agency’s approach was to put the ‘Grand’ in ‘Grand National’ to emphasise the scale of an event where nothing is done by halves – from the length of the course and the size of the fences to capacity of the crowd – and this was reflected through a bold typographic feel to capture and reinforce the race’s stature.
Plus, to communicate the populist and accessible nature of the race, the team developed a bright pastel colour palette complimented by a rich racing green. In a sport where many brands use darker tones, we adopted a brighter approach to capture the energy of being at the event and the vibrancy of its host city, Liverpool.
The race is a test of endurance, grit and bravery and to reflect this the agency developed a range of textures: from mud splats to the effect of dirty riding goggles. These were used alongside the bright colour palette to give the communications more depth. It also created energetic ‘debris’ effects that work with the typography and aim to replicate the impact of the horses jumping over the fences.
The fresh brand identity was also designed to adapt to different communications channels and race elements: for example, for premium or hospitality led assets the team toned down the use of the brighter colour palette and led with the racing green. We also incorporate the fir tree branches which are unique to the Grand National fences.
The new identity was showcases in a hero film deployed across property owner, race, partner and agency platforms.
“Our biggest challenge when creating a standalone brand for the Grand National was balancing the gravitas and epic nature of the race with its populist appeal,” outlined The Jockey Club Head of Brand and Marketing Laura Marchant. “Thisaway managed to do just that and more. The brand has got an iconic feel that stills feels warm and welcoming. They have created something that stands out not just in horse racing, but the wider sporting world.”
The Grand National is positioned as the world’s greatest steeplechase: watched by 10m people in the UK and 600m people around the globe in more than 140 countries. This year’s race saw 40 runners and riders take part and the race was shown by 30 different broadcasters in 140 countries around the world. It will even made available in-flight on selected airlines and also on cruise-liners, with 20,000 British troops and personnel serving overseas watching as well.