Case Study

Marine Corps Marathon

Client

Marine Corps Marathon

Sector

Nonprofit

Expertise

Collateral Design

Content Strategy

Design Strategy

Identity Design

Logo Design

Magazine & Program Naming

Recognition

BRIGHT BOOKS SERIES

Challenge

The Marine Corps Marathon isn’t any ordinary demonstration of athletic achievement—it’s about embodying a shared sacrifice. Every year, 30,000 runners lace up their shoes and head down a scenic route along the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War II Memorial, and the Washington Monument, before crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia.

Since its founding in 1975 by Colonel James L. Fowler, the marathon has grown to be the largest marathon in the world that does not award prize money, earning itself the nickname, “The People’s Marathon.”

As the marathon increased in popularity, event organizers recognized that it needed a logo refresh to match the passion and pride of its participants. The existing logo was outdated and intricate, making it difficult for use across a range of print and digital collateral. Marine Corps Marathon partnered with Beyond Definition (formerly Bates Creative) to design a logo that would preserve the legacy of the marathon while paving the way for its future.

Outcome

Whether emblazoned on a medal at the finish line or displayed in marathon print programs, we wanted the logo to evoke a deep sense of accomplishment and community. We delivered a timeless logo with a bold and iconic design that can be immediately recognized on all pieces of event collateral and marketing touchpoints. The redesigned logo not only nods to history but reflects the caliber of the people, event, and generational story with each passing marathon.

Beyond Definition also worked with the Marine Corps Marathon to design the 2011 official print program for the event titled “Salute.” The program features information about the marathon weekend, including maps that pull from the Marine Corps Marathon branding system, as well as feature stories spotlighting how comedian and actor Drew Carey’s journey to good health and fitness led him to run in the 36th Marine Corps Marathon.

“Beyond Definition is the perfect partner to take on the multi-tiered challenge of rebranding the Marine Corps Marathon. The updated identity of this great event will celebrate its history as one of the largest and best-organized marathons while also properly representing it as a Marine Corps operation.”

— Marine Corps Marathon Press Release

Phase 1Diagnostics & Discovery

To keep the essence of the old logo intact, our team studied the Marine Corps War Memorial for historical context. We didn’t want to lose the idea behind the old logo but instead modernize it without being overly complex. Also, our team studied a variety of athletic brands logos to ensure we captured the appropriate tone and style for the event.

Old Marine Corps Marathon Logo Design

Phase 2Logo Redesign & Launch

Through the insights gained in phase one, we decided to reimagine the iconic “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photograph. The photo captured the historic moment of six marines raising a U.S. flag at the summit of Mount Suribachi following the U.S. victory of the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II on February 23, 1945. To create the logo, we used red and black as the primary color palette along with negative space to abstractly depict the movement of the soldiers from the photograph. The name and mileage of the event sits along the angle of the flag for the main logo mockup but was designed for interchangeable text to feature the name of the event, mileage, or year.

New Marine Corps Marathon Logo Design

Marine Corps Marathon Alternate Logo Designs

Marine Corps Marathon 2011 Official Print Program Cover and Feature