It's all kicking off 

As a web design agency, we love all things design related. With this in mind, we’ve created our latest blog series Designwise, to highlight and comment on exceptional examples of brand identity. First up, our senior designer Adam tells us why he loves the Premier League’s latest logo redesign.

To this day, I can still remember when my love/hate relationship with the beautiful game of football was born. It was the summer of 1990; I’d probably just put my pet Tamagotchi to bed and was meticulously parting my hair into the perfect boyband-esque curtains.

It all started when I watched Manchester United triumphantly lift the FA cup into the air. Just a month later, I was allowed to stay up late to watch Gazza, Lineker et al dramatically progress to the semi-final of Italia 90 before being cruelly and unjustly knocked out by West Germany. The pain is still raw. Since then, football has become a central part of my life.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way in which football can evoke such diverse yet passionate opinions from so many people. Like design, football has a unique ability to divide an audience’s opinion. When you put the two together, you know it’s going to make for some interesting views and a few slightly heated debates. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at the divide in opinion over the Premier League’s controversial rebrand

Behind the logo

Design is very much subjective, so it’s no surprise that large-scale branding or advertising projects always divide opinions. Of course, when you have something as big as football, you’ll have a huge demographic. There’s no way that you could please or impress everyone with a design. So when the Premier League announced that it would unveil a new brand identity ahead of the 2016/17 season, it was clear that opinions would be divided.

Admittedly, I was surprised by the new logo as it was quite a departure from the old one. I knew that football fans wouldn't take to it initially. According to the agency behind the logo, the purpose of the new identity was to adopt “a bold and vibrant identity that includes a modern take on the lion icon - a symbol that is part of the competition’s heritage.” Of course there was a strong reaction from the fans, not all of which was positive. There were plenty of comments on Twitter about how a six-year old could do better, which possibly stemmed from the colour palette and simplified design. 

Yet I feel like this was a step in the right direction for the brand. The Premier League holds a huge appeal across the world and this means there is a need for a more flexible identity. Social media and web are platforms that have become integral to promoting the brand and an identity that is translatable to the basic elements is essential.

Good graphic design is something that's often overlooked by brands as it's a discipline that's often misunderstood and under appreciated. I applaud the Premier League for investing in design. The guardian even mocked the Premier League's attempts at rebranding by running a tongue-in-cheek competition for readers to design their own logos. Whilst it was all in jest, this did belittle the design process and the hard work that goes into logo design. The Guardian noted that “Football fans are crying out for a change of culture in the Premier League but, instead of lowering prices, they have invested some of their considerable riches in a new logo." 

This highlights where a lot of people get confused with the difference between logo design and branding. Whilst a logo is an important aesthetic representation of a brand, a lot of people get too hung up on the appearance of the logo and the graphic brand elements. A brand is much more than that. As a well-respected designer in his field Michael Bierut once said, “People forget that a brand new logo seldom means a thing. It is an empty vessel awaiting the meaning that will be poured into it by history and experience.” The language used and the work that is done to engage people form all levels of society are far more important, and that’s what lies behind the logo. 

A roaring success

Whilst not everyone loves the new logo, I’d personally say that the design is a success. It’s different enough for people to take notice, but it still retains some of the signature elements. Since its inception 24 years ago, the identity has seen a gradual evolution therefore building a fairly familiar presence. But this season saw the opportunity for a brand revolution. The end expiration of a long-term sponsorship deal with Barclays the negotiation of a huge broadcast rights deal.

I feel it’s the Premier League’s responsibility to provide a platform that allows clubs to engage with their communities both local and otherwise. It can help publicise and promote stories/experiences whilst it's down to the clubs themselves to reinforce the heritage and history of the game.

We are starting to see how the identity is being applied in context rather than just some press release visuals. There are show titles, in-match graphics etc. that start to give an example of the brand will start to take shape.

 If your brand could do with a refresh, get in touch to discuss your brand identity.

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