Refining the Kokyo brand to reflect its core values.

PatronGG believes that community is at the heart of esports and that it’s an essential ingredient to providing fans with a companion app. We learnt through building the FNATIC team app that even with the most basic features, the community built and maintained a strong userbase. With these learnings, we began work on Kokyo, our own centralised app.

Kokyo こきょ (Koki ~yo)
A Japanese word meaning a place community comes together.

A little context...

I joined PatronGG as they were pivoting away from their white label solution to one centralised app. As the first designer on the team, Kokyo’s visual identity was my first priority.

Shortly before I joined the team, they worked with a freelancer on a new logo. The design they landed on honoured the origin of the name but left us with a few concerns.

Old Kokyo Logo

Old Kokyo Logo

Things we liked

  • We liked that the logo gave a nod to the Japanese origin of the name.

  • We had an icon that could be used separately from the text.

  • We liked the soft curves of the typeface.

Things we wanted to improve

  • We weren’t aware of the reasoning behind the mark.

  • The logo didn’t sit well in a square/avatar as the macron offset the horizontal symmetry.

  • A western audience didn’t understand the macron without the context of the word.

An example of the old Kokyo logo used as an avatar and banner on Twitter.

An example of the old Kokyo logo used as an avatar and banner on Twitter.

The Plan

With a new app that needed designing, we only had a week to spend on the visual identity. We decided to focus our efforts on the mark and how we would use the logo in various contexts.

  • Icon / Avatar

  • Social media banner

  • App screen

Logo Mark

We explored various alternative marks using highly symmetrical shapes as these were the easiest to work within more scenarios. We also began associating many of these radial patterns with gatherings and ‘togetherness’ which we found to be positive connotations for the community.

First six logo concepts

First six logo concepts

At one point, I sat down with the CEO sarcastically making up meanings behind a small selection of symbols. What started as a joke gave us something to anchor our decisions. We began identifying some of the visual cues each of the marks gave us. The cue that kept returning to the topic of discussion was the community being at the centre of everything we do. This allowed us to refine our favourites and reduce the selection from about 12 under consideration to just 3.

Six radial logo concepts.

Six radial logo concepts.

Logo Color

The overall aesthetic of design esports has evolved into a uniquely chaotic space over the past decade. It borrows a lot from American Football and various other industries surrounding the culture of gaming, such as energy drinks and fitness. Despite it being so varied, some of the common elements you’ll find is darker colour schemes with splashes of vibrant colours, with a modern/techy vibe.

Brand colours didn’t need to be the frontier for Kokyo to stand out and be different, we wanted Kokyo to be at home in this space. I considered the conventional lookup of associations humans have with colour before returning to what I know best: esports. Bi-colour palettes are synonymous with competition, and Red vs. Blue is a common pair up for matches (such as the Red vs. Blue Youtube Series).

However, the challenge with primary colours is that they play an important role in non-verbal communication, both in UI and the real world.

  • Red = Danger / Error

  • Green = Success

  • Yellow = Warning

  • Blue = Info

Just as Kokyo brings fans together, I aimed to bring opposing colours together to create a third option, purple.

One selection of colours from the final round.

One selection of colours from the final round.

Conclusion

Before and After logo mocked up on Twitter.

Before and After logo mocked up on Twitter.

Despite the final direction closely resembling what we started with, it allowed us to continue with confidence in the mark. Both the story behind it and tests in various contexts satisfied our initial concerns.

  • The mark symbolised the coming together of fans.

  • The symmetry of the logo allowed it to work well in avatars and icons.

  • The macron was now abstractly referenced to avoid confusion. The simpler mark allowed us to apply our own meaning to it.

As a designer, I’m aware of the limitations of my experience. While this project was a great learning experience for me in terms of brand design, I would by no means label myself as a brand designer. Under the guidance of an experienced brand specialist, I could easily see my skills progressing. Also, without the time constraint, I think it would have been beneficial to expand our initial concepts without taking into consideration the name Kokyo. Whilst we gave this mark a nice story, my concern is that context is not enough and that it requires an explanation to communicate the message.

Kokyo branding used in marketing assets.

Kokyo branding used in marketing assets.

Kokyo Logo Wallpaper

Kokyo Logo Wallpaper