GRAVITY ROAD, New York / NIANTIC / 2022
Niantic inspires people to explore the world together through Augmented Reality games; But, they have struggled to emerge from the shadow of their debut hit, Pokemon Go. The brief for 2021 was to put Niantic on the map as a standalone brand with a new campaign and major design refresh that injected a new, aesthetic energy and made them recognizable wherever they showed up.
Moreover, Niantic had never had a strong or ownable visual identity. Until now, each of their games had their own look and feel featured in advertising, with defined visual guidelines set by the IP owners (like the Pokemon Company) that left little room for flexibility. This made it hard for consumers to identify Niantic as a distinctive brand in its own right, with ownable brand cues, or to develop any kind of emotional affinity.
The creative idea developed a fresh, visual take on exploration and adventure – themes that underpin the Niantic brand. The output was a bright, new aesthetic.
We started with reimagining their one recognizable asset, the airship logo sitting at the heart of the company, turning the flat 2D shape into a living, breathing 3D filmic asset. The logo lived in our film as CGI and as a chameleon-like animated ident whose style reflected each game. It even existed in Augmented Reality, ready to ‘fly’ around the world bringing rewards for gamers playing outside.
In tandem, we developed a bold, new visual language that borrowed from mapping and navigational symbols to create AR-like graphics for overlaying on imagery and film, on and offline.
All rebranded elements came together in #MeetYouOutThere: a multifaceted, multi-media campaign that refreshed the Niantic brand and served as a visual reminder for gamers to get back outside,
The execution of the re-brand focused on two elements: reimagining the airship and creating a new design system.
We reimagined three elements of Niantic’s airship design to represent different brand aspects. 1) The Hull = Discovery. The original ship, a whaling vessel, traveled around the world on adventures. 2) The Balloon = Creativity. The magical element that makes our ship float, merging reality and imagination. 3) The Rings = Energy. Bright, fluid, energetic, magical, surreal, digital: connecting the ship with the gaming world.
The design system borrowed visual language from mapping and navigational symbols, inspiring elements that felt unique to Niantic. We represented gaming’s playful nature through vibrant graphics. Color palettes were distinctly Niantic, deploying seven colors to convey different meanings to situations in the film. Gradients, shapes and movement played a role, intentionally directing the eye to focal points. Markers, pointers, arrows and paths all playing a part, too.
It is early days and the full impact of the campaign and rebrand on the business is one that will take time. However, the new design system has begun to move the needle with a 42% increase in aided Brand Awareness (20 to 29%), 49% increase in Brand Favorability (25 to 38%) and a 32% increase in Consideration Intent (28 to 37%). Downloads of games and miles walked (as a gauge for engagement) have both increased in the time since the campaign launched.