Brand Building
Challenger Brands

With slower cars that made no noise, Formula E was drawing unfavorable comparisons to Formula One. But it was precisely these qualities that offered a hidden advantage; silent, emission-free cars could race on the streets of the world’s capitals, whereas F1 could not. We framed the space around these strengths, creating a new category of motorsport called City Street Racing.


Born in 2012, the first few seasons for Formula E were a struggle. The cars were ugly, slow and battery limitations meant drivers had to switch from one to another halfway through the race. Holding their races on F1 circuits with retired F1 drivers didn’t help either. With track attendance and TV viewership low, the sport was a few races away from bankruptcy. In a sentence, the series was seen as a Diet Coke version of Formula One.

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While Formula E’s cars would always be slower, silent, and emission-free, these qualities contained a hidden advantage - if we reframed and shifted the context. On F1 circuits Formula E was uncompetitive. But on the streets of the world’s capital - where F1 could not race, because of the noise and pollution - Formula E could create a new and thrilling category of motorsport. We called it the City Street Racing Series.

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By reframing electric racing away from environmental themes towards a more urban identity, we could limit unfavorable comparisons to other forms of racing and create a new category of sport.

Changing the game
Based on the new positioning, a policy decision was made to stop all races on F1 circuits and henceforth only race on city streets. New in race innovations like Attack Mode and Fan Boost would take the new motorsport to the urban masses.

Race cars reinvented
Based on the new urban theme, the design language was updated to reflect a far more aggressive posture and stance. Aerodynamics of the car prioritized reduction of dirty air to encourage more wheel-to-wheel racing. The second-generation car was launched in time for the 2019 season.

Everyone wants a piece
The new strategy was used as a key selling tool to secure new city race locations in New York, Rome, Santiago, Sanya, Bern, and Riyadh.

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Visual identity

A new visual identity channelled the urban environment with a unique visual city lexicon and typeface. A refreshed colour palette intended to drive stand out and communicate the power of electricity.

Finally, a new tone of voice toned down the moral worthiness of eco messages adopting a more aggressive urban attitude.

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Growth in the number of 13-to-17-year-old fans engaging with online content (2018) relative to 2017


New valuation from brink of bankruptcy


Average race TV audience (2018), up from 18.6 million (2017)

> 1m

Combined organic followers (2018) across social platforms, up 55% from 2017

+ 318m

Total video views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube combined (2018), up 675% from the previous year


Race attendees (2018), up from 220,000 (2017)

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Faisal and his team. His brand knowledge, insight, and expertise were unapparelled and a huge advantage to our business. He successfully pinpointed the critical brand challenges and unlocked our key strengths, framing them in a differentiated way. Not only this, but he creatively communicated the positioning in a manner that helped us stand out.”
Chief Marketing Officer, ABB Formula E Racing
other work