What if Ken Block did branding design?

Mark Ellis

by Mark Ellis

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 15:17


Ken Block has become famous for his adrenaline-fuelled, rubber-burning, clutch-dropping automotive choreography, projecting cars backwards, upwards, downwards but mostly sideways. Performing seemingly impossible feats of driving, around an increasingly more bizarre array of obstacles. You’d be right to think that this has absolutely nothing to do with creating, designing and building a brand identity even if it is for Ford Performance parts. But it takes balls of steel in the creative sense and commitment to create something bold. Absolute precision to fit in visual treatments around typography and graphics, bravery to go with an idea with a bit of edge and trust in the crew around you..

The Ford Performance Parts branding project offered us the need to execute a number of extreme manoeuvres. Language had to be brief and to the point, and have a bit of street appeal, we needed to consider a stream of differing photographic assets that had to be unified in appearance and we needed to find a compelling brand story to effectively launch the brand within a multichannel campaign.



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At Burrows we are fuelled by complexity, delivering varying assets for many carlines and derivatives into multi language markets is our bread and butter, but our big challenge in this case was a creative and conceptual one, how do we convey a high energy and consistent brand message across the language divide? The answer comes from bottling the attitude of a performance marque that specialises in modifications, creating a visual approach that taps into an amazing history of motor sport achievements and looking more closely at the story our customer has to tell.


Finding white space for the brand. Within this competitive landscape we discovered that the territory of vehicle modifications is predominantly occupied by ‘aftermarket’ companies. Another significant barrier highlighted by our market research showed how a large proportion of the target market held a view that modifications could void the vehicle warranty and even reduce the performance. We really wanted to announce the Ford Performance Parts offering as a unique proposition to the customer. Any modifications carried out using Ford Performance Parts are designed, engineered, and developed to rigorous Ford standards and are still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. So, our branding concept would need to convey this strong message to the customer, that they are free to consider modifications and have all the benefits you get from owning a new Ford vehicle.

73.2 Degrees of unification. Ford has a prestigious motor sport history, with several firsts to its name. It also has an association with the famous Racing Stripe, with both the Shelby Cobra and the Ford GT40 winning at Le Mans in the 60’s. For Ford Performance Parts we leverage this brand equity and celebrate the Racing Stripe, by making it the shop window to exhibit product images and dynamic shots of Ford Performance Parts products in action. We tilt the stripe at a 73.2-degree angle to parallel the angles of the Ford Performance logo and give the image a tint in the Ford Performance colours. This draws together the multiple visual elements, but can also unite product photography with a differing range of treatments and styles.

Seamlessly bringing the elements together. Implementing all the executional components is where the craft comes in. Tone of voice, photography, colour, typography, composition, and the Ford Performance Parts logo: all brought together in a simple and clear way so that the customer will just ‘get it’ without too much decoding. This comes down to reframing our client brief to work around a clear proposition and working with our client’s insights into the market and to find the best approach. It is important for the client that the customer sees the product looking great. This creates the desire, but the sell in this case comes from making the customer feel reassured in the quality of the product.


We have built an identity that puts any creative designer in the driving seat as a great way to manage and deploy a diverse suite of assets to work with and gives the brand a highly distinctive and recognisable look and feel to use across print, digital and motion graphics. The ‘Go’ prefix to proposition offers writers the ability to reach out to the customer at a pinpointed level so that can media can directly target the modifications and state their benefits. The end-line helps in reassuring them that the components and installation are all of the very best quality and covered by the manufacturer. If you see the customer experience as if it was a Ken Block display of driving skill then the ‘without compromise’ end-line is the handbrake turn into an impossibly small space in a fury of tyre smoke and pyrotechnics to a round of cheers from a happy audience.


Mark Ellis

Senior Art Director