Hoyle Games



The Hoyle brand was officially created in 1927, as a subsidiary of Brown & Bigelow, and published card decks and gaming rule books. But the history of the Hoyle name goes back much farther. In 1741, Englishman Edmond Hoyle began publishing books on the rules of popular card and board games. They were a success, and he quickly became the leading expert on game rules, memorializing the common phrase “according to Hoyle” to denote recognition of a definitive authority.

The United States Playing Card Company was founded in 1867, and ranks as the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of playing cards. In 2001, they acquired the Hoyle brand. Fast forward to 2016, when Icon became involved. U.S. Playing Card was re-focusing the Hoyle brand as a publisher of kid-friendly games. They approached us to help them with branding and packaging in the launch of a suite of new games.



Our mission in this re-focusing of the brand was to develop a bold new visual identity to support the launch of new products, and reposition the Hoyle brand as an expert in fun games that foster parent-child bonding and facilitate learning. The design had to break through on-shelf and appeal to both mother and child, with a focus on the fun aspects of the brand. However, it also had to allow for the opportunity to showcase learning benefits to help Mom feel good about associating with the brand.

Brand Strategy

The original Hoyle was the conclusive source of the rules of the game. Our goal now was to shift the brand message from “learn to play” to “play to learn”. The new Hoyle would inspire fun as well as memorable learning experiences, by connecting with kids authentically. It would engage curious minds while building stronger bonds with family and friends, in a manner the digital alternatives couldn’t offer.

Aspirational Target

The typical Hoyle Mom is looking for opportunities to connect with her kids and have fun while encouraging development and providing some education. She has little time to spare, so her time must be used wisely, and learning has to be fun. Icon’s approach was to connect emotionally to both mom and child by creating a brand that is fun first but always has room for a lesson. Icon described this brand experience as “Purposeful Play”.



We used mood boards to explore distinctively different territories that illustrated how the brand identity could come to life. Each mood board emphasised different attributes of the territory that expressed a story through word and graphics. Icon explored visual and verbal equities that were intrinsic to the play of Hoyle’s card games. Surprising and unexpected expressions and eclectic mixes of objects, textures and color help to build a lively, energetic and playful tone. This bold visual identity was balanced with a familiar voice that builds deep trust and encourages mom without being condescending.

Consumer Research

Utilizing the final, refined territory, we developed several ways it could be executed as an identity, establishing color, typography and photography direction. Then we demonstrated the visual identities across several applications, and showed them to consumers to get their feedback.



We designed Hoyle’s packaging around telling the story of the game. Elements and illustrations from each game create a playful scene that captures all the energy and fun of playing. The reverse panel is used to reinforce the brand positioning, share how easy the game is to play, and give mom a list of skills the game helps children learn. A whimsical, diecut shape is applied to the top of each package, adding personality and presence at point-of-purchase. The end result is a vibrant and dynamic package with clear and relevant communication.

  • Mood Boards
  • Design Exploration
  • Final Packaging
  • Back of Packaging
  • Piggy Bank
  • Catch 'N Fish
  • Sharks Are Wild