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THE MATCH: A Brand Analysis

THE MATCHO is back.

There. I fixed it.

A celebration of American alpha male machismo and scripted trash talk like no other.

Four men, so popular - so alpha - that the target demographic know them by single monikers: TIGER. PHIL. BRADY. MANNING (no not that one, the one that comes first in Google search).

The Match - Champions for Charity
THE MATCH promotional tile recently released

So how to choose a typeface that won’t wilt under the machismo of these alphas!?

Go to google and search for “Alfa Font” (yes “Alfa” - only punks waste keystrokes on ph to make an f sound) and guess what comes up - Alfa Slab One. Guess what font THE MATCH is set in - yep - Alfa Slab One.

THE MATCH 2020 set in Alfa Slab One

Solid choice. Alfa Slab One has an impactful presence owing to its thick stem weights - hefty enough to hold up its blunt heavy slab serifs.

Slab serifs? You might be familiar with some slab serif fonts that come with Microsoft Word like Rockwell or Clarendon. In big bold point sizes they can be quite shout-y, sport-y fonts.

This family of typefaces are very geometric and highly legible thanks to their prominent serifs (the decorative flourishes that terminate some strokes). But unlike the curved and tapered shapes of an elegant book serif, slab serifs end in abrupt squared off edges lending the letterforms a sense of brutish permanence.

But this is old news, Alfa Slab One was already established as the font for last year’s match. This year there’s a whole new tagline to consider: CHAMPIONS FOR CHARITY.

The 2020 tagline set in XXII Geom Slab Heavy

What typeface is this set in? Strangely it’s another slab serif, but not Alfa Slab One. The tagline is set in XXII Geom Slab Heavy.

Pairing two slab serifs in this way is truly odd. They’re not different enough to provide interesting visual contrast and they’re so similar that you might just use one typeface.

To be fair XXII Geom Slab Heavy is an impressively macho name for a font. That alone might be reason to use it.

The roman numerals XXII give it a kind of NFL motif. The backstory to them is less sporty though - the font is made by Double Two Studios - XXII are the roman numerals for 22 and that is the company logo. So it’s a symbolic of way abbreviating the words “Double Two”. You see? Clever.

Anyway, the tagline has some good alteration on the “ch-“ sound of ch-ampions and ch-arity and it very concisely communicates the core message for this event.

Moving on. The all-important names of our four alphas are presented in a popular open source typeface named League Gothic.

The drawcard names set in League Gothic

League Gothic’s condensed lettering and epic proportions make it an excellent sans serif for the big-arena, fight-night sort of vibe they’re going for with this event. Like Alfa Slab One, it’s another choice that is inherited from last year’s branding but it’s so fit for purpose you wouldn’t consider changing it.

The promo tile’s various tweaked shades of red, white and blue are predictable and safe. It screams sports-ball. The logos of NFL, PGA TOUR, MLB, NBA and numerous other sporty acronyms are reliably dressed in these patriotic colors.

Visual hierarchy

Interestingly the red background is used to visually spotlight the event title and tagline. This with the various point sizes help to place the information in a suitable hierarchy. Event title and tagline first, then the talent, then the sponsor and lastly the broadcast network - TNT.

The stars either side of the TNT logo are a nice riff on the NFL logo which has a similar treatment with a football in the middle rather than the circular TNT logo. Very efficient way to pack that info into the tile.

The TNT logo serves as a neat footer
Elements of this design riff on the NFL logo

Finally, let’s take a moment to admire the horror of the CapitalOne logo. This is truly one of the most cliched logos in corporate history.

We start with a quaintly insipid sans serif for the word “Capital”. But it’s set in bold and leaning forward to try (and fail) to inject some modicum of excitement into the brand. Then for contrast the word “One” is set in a flimsy serif and playfully placed on a lower baseline to show what a whimsical, fun-loving bunch of credit card titans they are.

If they’d stopped there it would just be another mediocre logo mark like thousands of others. But no, they had to make it a stand-out offence against good taste in the most juvenile way by adding a massive crap-tastic swoosh.

The overall effect is one of a logo that deserves to be mistreated. The sort of logo that gets passed around as a horribly compressed and degraded JPG file for people to crudely shove into their bland Word documents.

At this point I feel some empathy for the designer tasked with giving the CapitalOne logo a prominent treatment in THE MATCH promotional tile. The rest of the powerful squared off design is tasked with a lot of work to overcome the lame presence of the CapitalOne logo.

All that said, with various constraints and - I’d dare say - limited budget, the designer has done a good job in fulfilling the brief with with this promotional tile. What it lacks in inspiration it makes up for in workmanlike efficiency and an admirable lack of risk-taking.

It builds on the rudimentary identity of last year’s match, shoe-horns in a pretty good tagline, competently communicates the players, their pairings and where you can view the event. Most importantly it gives generous space to the title sponsor.

And so the stage is set for a powerful alliance of corporations and broadcasting giants to embrace this unique opportunity to fill their quota of corporate social responsibility with another widely appealing dose of mediocre golf dressed up as the pinnacle of sports.

The stakes literally couldn’t be lower but for a few confusing hours of broadcasting chaos on the 24th of May millions will tune in as they haven’t got anything better to watch. Such celebrations of macho excess will keep getting resurrected because unimaginative corporate-types think it’s the peak of aspirational voyeurism to watch four amazing blokes knocking it about at an exclusive private club with complicated hazards and immaculate grooming.

An event like THE MATCH can be deserving of ridicule and still fine to enjoy. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. By all means watch it, or don’t. No judgement on the viewer either way.

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