Brand and digital studio Koto has unveiled the results of its two-year collaboration with Call of Duty. This collaboration aimed to unify two decades of the global franchise, bringing consistency and a sharpened sense of identity across in-game experiences, premium titles, marketing strategies and partnerships.
Koto tackled a diverse array of projects, including the creation of the Call of Duty Masterbrand Identity and Guidelines, introducing a new Franchise Logo and the Custom typeface, ‘Hitmarker’.
The studio also supported the launch of premium titles ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’ and ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’, evolving with the live game and seasonal game content — such as the Call of Duty: Warzone Identity, and introducing the ‘Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile Identity.
Koto’s work extended to live events and esports, with significant contributions to projects such as the community showcase ‘Call of Duty Next’ and the ‘Call of Duty League’, along with philanthropic endeavours in collaboration with the ‘Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.).’
This work was necessary given that Call of Duty is 20 years old and its titles have sold more than 425 million units life-to-date worldwide, generating billions in revenue.
A Legacy Defined: Call of Duty’s Vision and Koto’s Impact
After two decades of games and diverse brand touchpoints, the Call of Duty brand had naturally evolved, often needing more consistency as assets changed annually, with reinventions tied to each premium title launch.
Specifically, the Call of Duty team faced three distinct challenges:
First, developers build unique identities for each Call of Duty series, while still being part of the Call of Duty Masterbrand. This required striking a delicate balance between series identity and unity within the broader franchise.
Second, gamers held varying fandom with each Call of Duty series and with various modes, based on their preference, be it Modern Warfare, Black Ops or their popular Zombies mode. The brand needed to authentically resonate with all players, calling for a cohesive brand strategy that spoke to the diverse player base.
Third, the team aimed to enhance what players already loved about Call of Duty, without undergoing a complete reinvention and losing the identity of the franchise. The challenge was to refine the brand’s identity while preserving its core feeling.
Koto’s response began with a reimagination of the Call of Duty franchise wordmark and the construction of a Masterbrand architecture and IP framework to ensure consistency across Modern Warfare, Black Ops, Call of Duty: Warzone, and new titles for years to come.
Within this innovative system, Koto introduced a bespoke variable typeface, ‘Hitmarker,’ inspired by military heritage and modern gaming sensibilities, designed for use across the entire franchise and accommodating support for over 300 languages. ‘Hitmarker’ seamlessly integrated with marketing, social media, web platforms, and various ‘Live Service experiences,’ making its debut in-game UI in ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’.
This foundational work forged a strong relationship between Koto and the Call of Duty team, leading to numerous key projects that would reshape the Call of Duty identity.
Key Projects in Shaping the New Call of Duty Identity
Among the projects undertaken were:
- Supporting the launch of premium titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.
- Executing the brand across various live game service experiences, including the evolution of the Call of Duty: Warzone Identity, the creation of the Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile Identity, seasonal identities for the live game, and the memorable “Haunting” seasonal in-game event.
“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 our 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,” shared Tyler Bahl, vice president and head of marketing, Call of Duty at Activision.
”Call of Duty has been a part of my life for more years than it hasn’t. 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,” said Jowey Roden, Koto founder and chief creative officer.
“We had a duty to deliver exceptional work 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. 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 that would 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,” added Roden.
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