Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'

Wolff Olins and AMV BBDO work their magic on the world’s third-biggest sports company, conjuring up a new visual identity and campaign centred on the joy of play.

Global brand consultancy Wolff Olins
has created a new visual identity for Decathlon, introducing a new brand icon known as ‘L’Orbit’ that expresses the brand’s new purpose ‘, to move people through the wonders of sport.’

The rebrand launches today alongside a new global creative campaign created via Wolff Olins’ sister creative agency AMV BBDO centred around the concept of play.

Following a collaboration over two years, the rebrand spans strategy, design, internal culture, and brand experience and encompasses every Decathlon touchpoint: revitalising the visual identity, the product portfolio, and the omnichannel experience.

The brief

Since its creation in 1976, Decathlon has catered to pros and beginners alike across a wide range of sports. But despite the huge scale of the business, its brand voice wasn’t carrying it well enough into the hearts of customers or future audiences. I mean, would you have guessed it was the world’s third biggest sports company? Us neither.

Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'

In 2022, Wolff Olins was briefed as trusted brand transformation partner to support the new business strategy of shifting Decathlon from a French retailer to a future-fit global sports brand.

Brand concept

The question at the centre of the strategic approach was: what role does sport play in our lives today? Insights showed that people’s love for sport is not tied to winning but to the enjoyment and wellness it brings.

This led to the development of a new purpose for the organisation: ‘to move people through the wonders of sport’, with the entire brand strategy anchored around the idea of wonder. The aim was to amplify all the emotions of sport, such as enjoyment, connection and adventure, and celebrate movement, participation and progress.

The new Decathlon brand platform is rooted in this new positioning, entitled ‘make sport yours’; enabling everyone to embrace sport on their own terms and live happier, healthier lives. This approach breaks away from the category’s traditional focus on perfection, and injects a sense of play and enjoyment back into sport.

Graphic elements

As part of the redesign, the Wolff Olins team streamlined a portfolio of 85 sub-brands into one unified Decathlon brand with a new and expressive visual identity. The aim was to position Decathlon “as a maker, not just a retailer”. This included revitalising the iconic blue, celebrating the iconic heritage wordmark, and introducing the new brand icon, L’Orbit.

L’Orbit is an expression of the brand’s purpose; conveying movement and circularity, with a strong angle inspired by the iconic wordmark and a peak representing its connection to outdoor sporting activities. It will now feature prominently on all products, from mass-market to pro.

Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'

The wider identity system is designed to work effortlessly across all channels. A new voice, art direction, motion, and iconography are brought together with a bespoke typeface: Decathlon Sans. Inspired by the iconic Avant Garde wordmark of the 1970s, Decathlon Sans is both expressive and technical in its details and design.

Elsewhere, a motion system brings the Orbit to life, working across animated type, imagery, layouts and cinematography with a signature orbital movement. The approach to art direction aims to redefine sport, with a focus on emotion and authenticity as well as showcasing a spectrum of narratives that embrace a diversity of ages, abilities and sports.

Brand campaign

To launch the new Decathlon brand to the world, Wolff Olins’ sister creative agency AMV BBDO developed a campaign centred on the concept of play. At its heart lies a central principle: regardless of age, skill or sport, the joy of play lives in every one of us, and Decathlon invites everyone, everywhere, to rediscover the joy of play.

In a world where stress and perfectionism hold so many people back from enjoying sports, Decathlon simply asks, “Ready to Play?”. This bold question serves as an invitation and rallying cry for people to experience the sheer delight of movement and spontaneity.

Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'
Decathlon relaunches as a global sports brand with focus on 'Wonder'

The integrated campaign launches with a hero 60-second film directed by Hector Dockrill through Magna Studios. The film mixes original footage and found footage and celebrates sport in a non-glamourised way that reflects how people actually play it around the world, from children to older people, from beginners to professionals.

OOH campaign

The out-of-home campaign, featuring stills shot by Tom Sloan, also captures the joy of real people at play across a range of sports. Versions of the film will also run in 30-, 15- and six-second formats across TV, digital and social media.

A full 360 campaign is airing today during Decathlon’s official launch event in Paris and across global markets and will be broadcast across 70 markets throughout the month.

“Decathlon has always been for everybody,” says Emma Barratt, global executive creative director at Wolff Olins. “A sportsmaker, misunderstood as a retailer. A democratising influence in sport, fast becoming a leader in circularity. But above all, its aim to simply bring fun, joy and wonder to people of all levels and abilities. We have honoured this with the new brand and identity, which is an open invitation for all to move in their own way.

“It has been inspiring to work so closely with the impressive Decathlon leadership, and we couldn’t be more excited to see how they will continue to innovate and bring the wonder of sport to the masses.”

Laura Rogers, executive creative director at AMV BBDO, adds: “Play is at the heart of the Decathlon brand, from their stores to their people and now, in their communications. We’re delighted to share Decathlon’s unique, democratic and people-centred approach to sport with the world.

“We hope that this work, which is our first in partnership with the brand, inspires people everywhere to find that joyous spirit within themselves and get out there and play.”