Brand and design studio Koto has unveiled the fruits of its two-year collaboration with the Call of Duty video game franchise today. The result is a new global brand identity, which combines its many strands under one consistent visual system.
It’s been 20 years since Call of Duty first hit the scene, and over two decades, it’s become one of the biggest video game franchises on the planet. Known for its action-packed experiences and smooth gameplay, the series has become a staple amongst YouTubers, content creators and gamers alike.
In total, the Call of Duty franchise has sold 425 million units at time of writing. But for the company behind the franchise, Activision, herein lied the problem. With the series being so explosively popular across diverse brand touchpoints, it was felt that it needed to be tied together with a consistent identity. Enter Koto.
Upon taking on the challenge of rebranding one of the biggest computer game properties on the planet, Koto immediately identified three branding challenges. Chief among these was the fact that developers build unique identities for each Call of Duty series, all of which need to be part of the Call of Duty Masterbrand. In order to strike the perfect balance between individuality and cohesion, Koto had to proceed with utmost care.
On top of this, each Call of Duty series contains its own tier of fandoms. Therefore, the brand had to authentically resonate with players across different titles like Modern Warfare and Black Ops, all while fitting into the larger brand strategy. No mean feat.
Finally, Koto had to enhance what players already loved about Call of Duty. And in doing so, it had to rejuvenate it without reinventing its identity and losing existing fans. As the studio explains, the challenge revolved around refining the brand’s identity while preserving its core feeling.
While this sounds like a monumental challenge, Koto began by reminagining the Call of Duty franchise wordmark and constructing a masterbrand architecture and an IP framework. These laid the groundwork for a consistent identity across Modern Warfare, Black Ops, Call of Duty: Warzone, and new titles yet to come.
Within this system, Koto introduced a bespoke variable typeface known as Hitmarker. Appropriately inspired by military heritage and gaming sensibilities, Hitmarker will appear across the entire franchise and support over 300 languages. Not only that, but Hitmarker will be integrated into marketing, social media, web assets, and live service experiences.
Considering that Call of Duty has such a huge and passionate fanbase, it’s no surprise to learn that the creative team at Koto were also hugely invested in getting the rebrand right.” Call of Duty has been a part of my life for more years than it hasn’t,” Jowey Roden, Koto Founder and Chief Creative Officer. “It isn’t just a game; it’s a source of connection. It’s brought me closer to my brother, my team at Koto, and it continues to do the same for millions of people, even after 20 years at the top.”
Jowey adds that he felt a sense of duty to deliver an exceptional brand identity for a game that means so much to players worldwide. “Call of Duty influences culture in a way few brands ever get the fortune to,” he adds. “It’s the backdrop to gaming community discussion and the deepest-cut internet memes.
“Activision approached us with the bold ambition to refine the Call of Duty franchise, unifying its IPs and strengthening its brand identity into a comprehensive design system to facilitate its continued growth.
“We achieved this by creating a new Masterbrand architecture, design system and custom typeface that ensures consistency through all Call of Duty’s IPs across marketing, in-game, and collaborative touchpoints.
“Through this foundational work, we forged a deep relationship with the Call of Duty team, embarking on a series of projects that would bring the essence of Call of Duty into a new chapter.”
Tyler Bahl, vice president and head of marketing, Call of Duty at Activision, adds: “Over the past 20 years, our franchise has grown from a single-player PC video game to a massive entertainment franchise online. Call of Duty can now also be played on more devices and platforms than ever before.
“However, with the increasing number of ways to play and connect, we needed to simplify and strengthen our brand identity. To achieve this, we partnered with Koto to evolve our brand marks and streamline communication.
“This allowed us to create a consistent brand identity that works on larger-than-life screens like the Las Vegas Sphere and small mobile devices. We also developed a new font to make our communication more dynamic and impactful while opening up the whole system to our community.”