THE PLAYERS Championship - A Brand Analysis
How do you create a logo worthy of the highest levels of athletic achievement? A mark of excellence, a symbol of a timeless tradition that stirs the soul and ignites the competitive fire within!?
You start by selecting a typeface, and for THE PLAYERS Championship there was only one choice - Bembo SemiBold.
Bembo is modelled on some of the earliest oldstyle typefaces. Simple, elegant workhorse fonts for printing of classic texts. Imagine yourself in front of a blank screen in Microsoft Word wanting to create something that looks “classy” - you might reach for Garamond - congratulations you’re well on your way to creating a stylish document. Garamond is a well-known example of the oldstyle family of typefaces that inspired Bembo.
Bembo is a handsome, well-proportioned and highly-legible serif. It’s a font that you use to evoke a feeling of Renaissance classicism and it’s particularly suited to an all caps display.
That’s no coincidence of course - THE PLAYERS careful insistence of enforcing the all caps display in every medium is a deliberate choice. All caps is reserved for VERY important things... and for things that you want to shout in text messages.
But mostly all caps is for the sort of things that have existed for hundreds of years. Symbols formed from a mix of line widths and subtly angled serifs that are built to last. Tall, sturdy letterforms that are visible from afar with enough weight and heft to hold steady through the passage of seasons. Worthy of shouting out the clear and strong message that this is a Championship that is here to stay.
Bembo and the way it is presented in THE PLAYERS logotype is the sort of type you might find chiselled into a faux granite block above the entrance to the modern-day colosseum that is TPC Sawgrass. An arena for champions!
This association with TPC Sawgrass is deeply embedded in the THE PLAYERS DNA. THE PLAYERS brand has it’s origins in the TPC Network and that has clearly influenced THE PLAYERS Championship name. So despite it not being an acronym it still gets a similar “shape” to it’s sibling brands - TPC Network and PGA TOUR. That’s good brand management.
There’s one notable tweak to Bembo for THE PLAYERS logotype - the leg of the capital R has been shrunk a little. In some of Bembo’s fonts the leg of the capital R is significantly distended in a manner common to many oldstyle fonts, but it is an odd quirk and would be distracting if it was left in THE PLAYERS logotype.
That small tweak coupled with the generously spaced kerning presents THE PLAYERS logotype with a nice uniform look and a touch of exclusivity. It’s a formula that would work for any club or institution that wants to convey as sense of permanent, timeless class.
Similarly, for display type in the text of THE PLAYERS website, the freely available Google Font Crimson Text is used. This is essentially Google’s stand-in for oldstyle Garamond-inspired typefaces. It’s a great choice as a display type for THE PLAYERS website and is similar enough to Bembo to provide a consistent brand experience while being a practical and versatile set of fonts.
But of course there’s more to THE PLAYERS logotype than its font... What sport are THE PLAYERS playing? How could one possibly know that this is a golf tournament if it wasn’t for the familiar silhouette of the PGA TOUR golfer device?
The PGA TOUR golfer device is believed to be a composite creation that should bring to mind the elegant and powerful follow through positions of Miller, Weiskopf and Nicklaus while at the same time leaving no doubt as to who owns whatever commercial property it is emblazoned on.
It’s testament to the prestige of THE PLAYERS Championship that the golfer silhouette is released from the rectangular keyline that has formed a restraining cage encircling the PGA TOUR logo for all these years. No mere line drawn from an illustrator's mouse can constrain a winner of THE PLAYERS Championship!
The correct and proper place for THE PLAYERS edition of the golfer device is right in there between the two words. Not to the left or on top like every other tournament’s logo. The champion player emerges from within THE PLAYERS, a first among equals, the best of the best.
The position of the golfer device gives the logo a nice sense of left-to-right movement that wouldn’t be as strong if it were anywhere else. It’s also a refreshingly modern element to serve as a reminder of how THE PLAYERS blends the game’s great traditions with a modern viewing experience.
From a practical standpoint, the placement of the golfer device makes THE PLAYERS logo a little bit wide which is less versatile than some logos that can be re-oriented for a more vertical space if needed, but THE PLAYERS logo cannot be compromised in this way. It always must be given enough horizontal space to express it’s importance.
And what of the colour? Well there’s a certain shade of blue that is associated with THE PLAYERS brand. It’s #003360 to be precise. Subtly darker and more sophisticated than the PGA TOUR’s familiar and friendly #083666. THE PLAYERS is more serious than your everyday tour event. “History happens here” at THE PLAYERS and that calls for a darker background.
But PLAYERS blue is merely a canvas for the true spiritual colour of THE PLAYERS. The only colour worthy of doing justice to The Gold Standard of championship golf - that’s… um well… gold.
So the golfer device is dipped in gold! This helps you draw the not so subtle connection to the new Tiffany & Co. perpetual trophy introduced in 2019. A beautiful piece wrought from sterling silver and fashioned by a team of master craftsmen using traditional techniques seamlessly combined with cutting edge technology such as “electroforming” to gild the iconic golfer in opulent 24 carat gold.
So there you have it - a seemingly simple logo mark steeped in history but effortlessly imbued with a modern sensibility that’s packed with symbolism representing the origins and ownership of the most prestigious event in golf, except for the 4 other tournaments which are more prestigious.
But the main thing we’ve learnt is that those other tournaments lack the sparkling flashes of gold that speak to the core values of the THE PLAYERS brand identity and evoke the ultimate embodiment of The Gold Standard in the swinging golfer trophy which is the only major/significant trophy in golf (except for The Olympics) that isn’t finished in silver. Because we all know that silver is for second place. Gold is for winners.