Here's How Decathlon's New Identity Will Keep Digital Sales Surging

Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief
June 11, 2024
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Prêts à jouer? Ready to play? Decathlon, the French sporting goods retailer is building its next frontier with the help of Global brand consultancy Wolff Olins. Barbara Martin Coppola, Decathlon Global CEO commented that “People need sport today more than ever.” And it’s true. Coppola highlights a key worrying trend, “There’s a particular issue amongst children, where obesity has risen in Europe by 150% since 1980.”

Pushing forward with the message that sport plays a vital role in helping societies live healthier and happier lives, Decathlon’s new strategy is anchored on a key ambition: To use sport to help us to ‘reconnect with our humanity, with the planet, and with our physical selves…to Move People Through the Wonders of Sport.

It’s time for Decathlon to communicate with the next generation. A brand you don’t just remember from a suburban retail park whilst being driven around on a sunday by your parents, but the choice you are now choosing to help you fall in love with working out. 

Coppola’s team listed improvement to customer experience, sustainability and modernising their company end-to-end as key to the rebrand. 

Ultimately, Decathlon is a global company with more than “100,000 teammates and more than 1,700 stores across 70 countries and regions.” So the rebrand needs to communicate across cultures and hit home to the younger generations, authentically

The rebrand launched alongside a new global creative campaign spearheaded by Wolff Olins' sister creative agency AMV BBDO. It centred around the concept of play and could have drawn inspiration from ASICS’ equally powerful messaging, perhaps even imagery. But, inspiration aside, this is a wonderful new start for the brand. 

Decathlon was the place you went to if you have a vague interest in taking up a sport; Fishing, football, basketball and horse riding. You bought those Decathlon astro turf football trainers a quarter of the price of a pair of Nikes and a ticket to play a game every so often with your mates. 

It didn’t matter Matt, Steve and Tony were wearing the same trainers - they did as they said on the tin, you scored a hat trick and Bob’s your uncle - they’ll stay in the boot of your Golf for the next game. 

But Decathlon are opting to take themselves off the retail park, onto our smart phones with their improved app you’ll actually use, and more into the cultural zeitgeist. 

So let’s take the app. It’s all part of their new digital shopping experience. Updated front-end and back-end has enhanced the overall customer experience to drive forward its omnichannel strategy as more of us prefer shopping online. Narrative written into the plan, we’ll be able to discover more about the products we’re considering to purchase with well placed stories. 

For those of us who appreciate bricks and mortar, this aspect of the redesign will pique your interest. One thing really frustrating about Decathlon’s store design were the high shelves. You go in searching for swimming shorts, see flip-flops at the end of an aisle that leads into the aisle dedicated to archery - ok maybe not that bad, but it’s a mission to find the right aisle. 

With the redesigned stores, we are looking at a ‘circular mass plan.’ If only IKEA did the same thing! What’s a circular mass plan? Decathlon says the stores will harness “intuitive navigation, increased product visibility, engaging displays, and an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.” The result, they say “will promote efficient browsing, easy comparison, and a memorable shopping experience, creating a positive and enjoyable journey.” 

Because let’s face it, it’s not about dwelling time but creating less barriers to purchase. 

Showrooms and discovery stations will combine physical and digital elements to help inform our purchases. It’s less about picking up those astro turf football trainers off the peg but educating us as to why buying X instead Y may be a better option.  

The Logo

The new logo, named the Orbit or L’Orbit, is a first ever. And brings a bolder, positive air without stepping out of its iconic heritage. 

Decathlon are saying “Our new shade of blue is vibrant and full of energy, representing Decathlon’s credibility as a sports brand.” And, Decathlon being the third largest sports company in the world, the logo, the whole customer experience, finally looks like it matches up. 

We’ll be seeing this new L’Orbit logo painted across all of their sports products, from mass-market to pro. You’ll see a nod to peaks and the outdoors folded into the logo which opts to move to more ‘Patagonia’ and less Cotton Traders, if you will. So you won’t be embarrassed to wear your Decathlon windbreaker at afterwork drinks, if you really must.  

And that’s thanks to Decathlon Sans, a font crafted with a nod to the iconic Avant Garde wordmark of the 1970s, marrying expressive flair with technical intricacy in its design.

Furthermore, a dynamic motion system known as the Orbit injects vitality into Decathlon's visual language, enlivening animated type, imagery, layouts, and cinematography with a unique orbital movement. 

What Wolff Olins have achieved here, via this artistic direction, is a reimagination of the essence of sport, placing emphasis on emotional resonance and genuine authenticity while presenting a rich new chapter of stories. They embrace a wide spectrum of ages, abilities, and sporting disciplines. It’s less about perfection and more about just, well, moving. 

The Campaign

AMV BBDO, Wolff Olins’ sister agency communicated this rebrand for us in a fun, lighthearted way that very well highlights Decathlon’s plans to be a purpose-led brand. Inviting everyone, no matter our age, fitness level, to get out there and rediscover the joy of play. 

Prêts à jouer? or Ready to play? just takes the edge off. It’s less about personal bests and calories burnt but more about getting out there and enjoying the fun of movement. 

Emma Barratt, Global Executive Creative Director at Wolff Olins says, "A sportsmaker, misunderstood as a retailer. A democratising influence in sport, fast becoming a leader in circularity. But above all, its aim is to simply bring fun, joy and wonder to people of all levels and abilities.”

Magna Studios’ film shows they understood the assignment. The film has been produced in three different versions - 30, 15, and six-second formats will sit across TV, digital and socials.   

South London based photographer, Tom Sloan’s shots star in Decathlon’s OOH campaign, as shown in our featured image.

The Brief, The Research and The Outcome

So how did we get here? It’s taken almost two years. Identifying that their messaging wasn’t cutting through, in 2022 Wolff Olins was briefed as a brand transformation partner. Decathlon aimed for future-fit global sports brand recognition rather than that French retailer that sells sports goods.  

Barratt continues, “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."

And we're looking forward to the same thing. Not to mention the ROI on the rebrand and how this new partnership will impact Decathlon’s sustainability targets. Decathlon's digital sales, making up 17% of the group's 2022 revenue, coupled with its expansion into 72 global territories, underscore the brand's robust performance. These achievements illustrate how Decathlon's rebranding is grounded in concrete strategies for modernisation, sustainability, and worldwide engagement.

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Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief