ESPN Gives NBA New Creative Brand Identity Ahead of Broadcast Season

The fresh look also includes the WNBA and G League

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It’s hard to believe the NBA preseason is almost here, but ESPN is ready for Thursday’s tip-off with a new global creative brand identity for all on-air NBA coverage across all screens and platforms.

The WNBA and G League are included in the new aesthetic, marking the first time the collection of NBA brands will have a cohesive look. It’s the first time ESPN has refreshed the graphics in seven years.

The new brand identity, animation and music will debut Thursday with NBA Today at 3 p.m., followed by NBA Countdown at 7 p.m. and then across the doubleheaders beginning at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The branding will come to life throughout the season with new innovated augmented reality enhancements across ESPN’s primetime and playoff programming, finishing with ABC’s coverage of the NBA finals featuring a new signature style.

ESPN Creative Studio was formed a little under two years ago, and the NBA creative refresh has been the group’s largest project to date.

“It’s to unlock the firepower of the creative, and that played into setting the strategy,” Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu, vp of ESPN Creative Studio, told Adweek. “The biggest thing that we asked ourselves this year is that we know that [fans in general], and the younger fans particularly, want a more immersive experience. They want to feel part of it and inside of it, so that was our North Star. How do we bring fans into the action and feel like they’re sitting courtside?”

Viewers will see the WNBA and NBA logos animate on-screen with signature crossover dribbles and no-look passes, inspired by the view of sitting courtside and the motion of the game. A basketball-centric spherical theme is central to the new identity.

“The creative treatment was inspired by that, and by bringing a lot of energetic motion into the game,” Brzezinski-Hsu said. “We want this to feel like a universe. Whether it’s a 60-inch TV screen or a 6-inch phone screen, we have to make this identity feel consistent and fun no matter where you’re watching it.”

ESPN Creative Studios collaborated with FutureDeluxe and 2Fresh on the campaign.

Brzezinski-Hsu said ESPN was attracted to working with design agency FutureDeluxe because of the company’s experimental nature, which was “exactly what [ESPN] needed.”

“We did not want to land on safe solutions that we typically see or get back when we pitch for sports,” she added.

On the music side, the creative studio partnered with Made Music Studios to create the next evolution of the ESPN on NBA sound. It’s the first time ESPN has changed the theme music for the NBA since 2004.

The sound will accompany NBA Countdown leading into games, plus the games themselves on ESPN and ABC, and the company is working on some new music for NBA Today.

The creative refresh comes as the WNBA wrapped its 26th season last month, ending its most-viewed season in 16 years, up 22% on Disney’s networks in 2022.

“The other thing we’re really proud of, whether it was an ad integration or the WNBA—nothing was an add-on,” Brzezinski-Hsu said. “We’re proud to have devoted so much creative energy and innovative thinking in the WNBA right at the get-go.”

ESPN and Turner Sports split the broadcast rights to the NBA. That deal runs through 2025.