Rebranding for Placar, Brazil's most traditional soccer media outlet
Published since 1970, Placar is a reference on football, with its iconic covers, posters, photos, and guides are the heritage of the most loved national sport... But not mine. I never connected with soccer before, so for this project, I had to deep dive into the soccer culture to redesign a brand that honors its history and talk to our national heart.
We organize ourselves into clubs and use them as provocations and vocatives. We live in buildings that commonly have soccer courts in the backyard. We promote private social events based on championship finals, we participate in rituals, traditions, and superstitions. It’s undeniable that soccer is one of the stronger roots of Brazilian culture.
An important part of this national passion was printed in the pages of Placar. Published in 1970, the magazine quickly became the main reference in media for soccer. Its posters, iconic covers, photos, and features are part of the heritage of the most important Brazilian sport. It is hard to find anyone who has never heard of the magazine, even those who do not follow soccer. Just like the sport itself, Placar is part of many people's history.
Focused on its multiplatform potential, in 2017 Placar started investing beyond the website, shifting the content strategy to be spread across a range of digital platforms, wherever the soccer fans are. The game strategy was to transform Placar into a platform agnostic digital hub for soccer content. Without letting go of the presence in print media, each month Placar would be presented in a different format: dossier, championship guides, magazine, book… each issue being a collectible artifact that resonates with the readership.
To escalate the potential of the multiformat, multichannel and multiplatform growth, Placar needed a new brand, one that would adapt well to any screen or paper size, solid enough to be recognized in any application. It may sound like the standard briefing for any brand, but for Placar, it was a core messaging need.
On the field, out of the comfort zone
Besides all the importance that Placar has in the history of its more than 2.5 million readers, redesigning the magazine's identity presented itself as an even greater challenge for me: I don't follow soccer. Don't get me wrong, I am not the kind of person who would roll my eyes when someone asks me to turn on the TV to see how a game is going. On the contrary, I often watch excerpts of matches on TV or highlight reels of games on the internet out of pure reverie. But soccer has always had an indirect influence on my life and also on my work. What made this project a personal provocation of the possibility of working on something for someone with interests very different from mine: exocentric design by obligation. I would not be design that resonated with me, I would work for a completely distinct industry that I normally won’t be familiar to me.
I already knew that trying to create a "modern" brand, using an iconic abstraction and a trendy typeface would not work. Nor trying to just “facelift” the (until) current brand created by Roger Black in the ‘90s. By doing that we would be trying to transform Placar into something from and for the universe around me. So I knew that all these easy-to-go ideas would not be enough. But I had no idea where to start.
In the initial project meeting, I was hoping to understand and address the practical needs of Placar's identity. What was scheduled to be a 40-minute meeting, turned up into being a 2-hour conversation about the history of the publication and the plans for the future, besides a lot of passionate soccer chat. I heard stories, so full of details that only the memory of a soccer fanatic could remember, that reinforced the same theme in the following meetings: the affective memory of soccer. After interviewing all the stakeholders, I had a very clear briefing: I was not going to design the rebranding for a soccer magazine. I was going to design the brand about the passion of soccer.
Soccer, soccer, soccer.
Since I don't follow soccer regularly, I didn't know much about soccer. Before I started working on any visual ideas (or at least not trying to doodle too early), I spent a few weeks surrounded by soccer: I watched games from different decades to understand the stories. I interviewed and connected with soccer fanatics to listen to their emotional stories. I investigated everything on soccer visuals: uniforms, team shields, club communications, fan-made posters. I went to friends' houses to watch games, visited the Soccer Museum a few times, just to hang out and be permeated with the visual language. I spend days navigating through issues of Placar in the dusty archives of the documentation warehouse. And the idea I had when I left the briefing meeting became even stronger: Placar is its history. Placar is part of its readers' history.
Before gaining Black's brand, with the Brazilian flag deconstructed into an illusion of physical materialization, Placar's brand presented itself in several typographic configurations but sustained itself with just the word. Looking at the strength of the typographic communications of the 1970s and 1980s, I opted to start working on the typography. After trying more than 40 different fonts and weights, I found in Usual, by Rui Abreu, the solidity and seriousness of a grotesque sans serif typeface, but with a personality distinct from Helvetica and its derivations. Inspired by Le Corbusier's modular system, it was born in an attempt at a typographic proportions system. This neutral and universal characteristic allowed the necessary changes to be made so that the logo could be read in several sizes, gain an inclination that would bring orderly dynamism (working with two inclination angles, one being three times the other) and, mainly, connecting with the memory of readers who had contact with elements of graphic design in soccer before the 90s.
Modularity and dynamism
For the brand to meet the formal needs of the plurality of applications, I worked with a modular live brand system, where the brand exists and functions inside rectangles in various proportions and with distinct positioning, marked by a palette inspired by the high-performance sports universe. With tones baptized in the soccer universe, they provide dynamism to the brand without giving up an identity that makes it recognizable
Once approved, the brand was printed on the products, or rather, in Placar's interactions with its readers and users progressively. It is an expression of affection for the publication, in its 46 years of life. And, above all, an invitation to the future.