Starting in the 2016/17 season, the legendary English Premier League will drop its sponsor, Barclays, from its branding. The league has also taken as an opportunity to completely transform their logo.
There are many good reasons to redesign your logo. The most common are to realign a mark with a company development, or to actively change the public’s perception of a brand (possibly because of negative press). Those who decide to revise their corporate identity should do so conscientiously. A rebranding can create many risks for the future of a company; as many past examples have shown, a new logo can lead to discord among the customers. The new logo of the English Premier League is one of just these examples. Its new look polarized fans and sparked a contentious conversation. But you can learn from these errors.
Oftentimes, the strong reactions of critics are due to one (or more) of four errors:
1. Emotional chaos
Sports are an emotional experience for many fans. That emotion—the excitement and joy—is often times associated with a logo. These associations are often built up starting in childhood. And when that logo is changed, fans feel frustrated and betrayed, because something that brought them happiness and fond memories is suddenly gone. This frustration leads to negative feedback. A brand needs time to build up an emotional connection to their new look.
If you’re rebranding, take a lesson from the Premier League logo and don’t be caught off guard by visceral emotional reactions to the change.
2. Lack of purpose
If a rebrand is undertaken solely to make headlines or bring fresh wind to corporate communications, it’s not going to be successful. Instead of focusing on whether you like your old mark or not, you need to figure out what—if anything—is actually not working. Is it difficult to read or understand? Can it be mistaken for another brand or product? Does it not have any momentum? Is it tragically outdated? If you cannot answer yes to any of these questions, think carefully about whether or not you really need a rebrand.
What was so wrong on the old Premier League logo? It was identifiable, was very recognizable, and was not laughable outdated. In this case, the organization underwent a huge change when it decided to end its sponsorship agreement with Barclays, and instead go the route of American sports leagues, which feature very simple names (e.g. the National Football League (NFL) or Major League Baseball (MLB)). But was this reason enough to completely change the look of the organization’s logo? Could the same effect not have been achieved simply by dropping Barclays’ name?
When you rebrand, make sure you consider your reasons carefully.
3. Not considering history
In any realignment, you should not forget where you come from. Consider what distinguished your previous logo. How has it caught the attention of customers or fans? It may be the color that has imprinted itself, a particular typeface or shape. It is advisable to retain some of the old elements. In the case of the Premier League logo, they only got this half right. Although the lion is still part of the logo, it’s depicted in a completely new, almost childlike style, which was not well received by the fans, who say the new design lacks the grace and power of the original.
4. Not standing out
The old Premier League logo had achieved cult status. It was unmistakable, unique. The same cannot be said of the new logo. So football fans reacted quickly, and let their associations run free. The main comparison—to the Walt Disney classic The Lion King—probably does not build the type of connections the English football league intended.
The outcry on the internet was great. A large amount of negative social feedback can be devastating to a brand.
Instead of adding to the malice, at 99designs we thought about what we could have done better in the design of the new logo. And we asked our design community to show us their ideas in a logo design contest.
The winning logo
by Maya Septha
Other outstanding designs from the contest
As our contest shows, there are a lot of ways to design a new Premier League logo. At first glance, many of these designs appear more appropriate than the actual new logo, but it’s worthwhile to compare these designs to the list of common mistakes in rebranding again and test the desired outcome.