After finding success on the track its rookie season, Harding Racing – an IndyCar team started by Indianapolis’s own Mike Harding – found itself fueled by a desire to be seen as a competitor both on and off the asphalt. We partnered with Harding Racing to develop a brand that would position the team as a formidable adversary while also honoring the Harding family’s unique story.
The fact that Harding Racing was formed in the Racing Capital of the World, by an Indianapolis native, alluded to a story that could almost write itself, but Harding Racing is one of three brands within the umbrella of the Harding family business, with several sub-brands under each. While our initial task was focused on the racing brand, we also needed to help the team identify the overarching traits of the Harding entities before we could hone in on what differentiates one from the other.
Thank you for creating such a powerful and amazing product! This truly showcases Harding Racing perfectly.
– MIKE HARDING, OWNER & CEO
In order to create a resonant brand, we first dug in to audience research. From our conversations and co-design sessions with Harding team members, we discovered the importance of developing a brand that paralleled the passion of Indycar fans, while also giving a nod to the story and history of the Harding family. While the family has strong roots in asphalt, having started as a paving company, IndyCar fans expect a different type of sophistication and visual aesthetic. Pairing the company’s best-in-class values with the racing team’s commitment to winning would be a critical component to our success.
After identifying brand positioning and storytelling opportunities, we put the pedal to the metal, pun intended, with rapid concept sketching. During this time, we explored a wide array of ideas – from the unique elements of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to signifiers of speed and strength to symbols of history and family heritage.
From there, we weighed each concept on its potential to tell the Harding Racing story and engage its fans, refining the most promising. Through a process of diverging and converging (during one of the fastest sprints we’ve completed as a company) the Harding Racing brand was born.
“The Harding Racing logo symbolizes tradition, movement, swiftness, and strength. Inspired by the Harding family crest, the mark incorporates a swallow-like bird, representing perpetual movement and swift intimidation. Just as a swallow rapidly navigates the air, diving and turning at the flick of a wing, Harding Racing nimbly and quickly navigates the racetrack, serving as an intimidating force and fierce competitor. The wings of the bird in flight also create the shape of a shield or crest, symbolizing strength and solidarity while nodding toward the sense of tradition within the Harding family. The mark should serve as a symbol of solidarity for the entire Harding Racing family as it gains momentum and success across racetracks on the national stage.”
Building out the brand to meet all of Harding Racing’s needs proved to be no small feat. We worked alongside our partners and their vendors to apply the brand to apparel, signage, trailers, stationery, and even the car itself. We also designed and developed a new web presence, incorporating the brand story, a behind-the-scenes look, and countdowns to build excitement for each upcoming race.
We love getting to work with communities – people who are incredibly passionate about what they do and what they care about – so working with the local racing team has been a real honor for us as fellow Hoosiers. We are so excited to cheer on Harding Racing as spectators, awaiting the results of each race while watching the brand zoom by in a blue and yellow blur. It’s not often you get to design a logo that travels 200 miles per hour!
The entire Harding Racing organization could not be more excited about our updated brand. SmallBox did an excellent job of partnering with our team, understanding our needs and executing in the timeline we required.
– PHIL SPARKS, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING