Earlier this year, Merseyside based football club Everton revealed a new club crest as part of a rebrand that aimed to simplify and modernise the previously fussy Everton crest.
The rebrand faced trial by social media with outraged fans of the club across the globe kicking off (pun intended) about the new logo design.
The branding of sports teams is always going to be a controversial subject!
Rebranding any business is a delicate issue, and ideally, you don’t want to end up on a list of rebranding failures.
What Everton tried to do with their crest was something very sensible. The original design is very fussy and in defence of their in-house design team, who were responsible for the new design, I can really see why they wanted a move away from it.
The club cited the “complexity of the [old] crest made it difficult to reproduce for certain print, broadcast and digital media,” suggesting they needed a more streamlined and simplistic approach.
When the redesign was released, some of the original elements had been retained. The shield, the tower (albeit changed and, in my opinion, better), the yellow trim and the date of the club’s formation. The quote and the laurel wreaths however went the journey. However, through the use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, Everton supporters and fans managed to trigger a backlash and a petition was created to get rid of the new emblem. The petition went on to garner over 23,000 signatures.
We’ve always said that sports and fitness branding is particularly difficult to get right. At the end of the day, you have to satisfy your design brief, but also satisfy legions of loyal fans, who wear their hearts on their sleeves!
The main focal point of Everton’s logo has always been Prince Rupert’s tower. Having never seen a picture of the tower before writing this article, I had always assumed that the representation of Everton’s badge was quite true to life. I also assumed that the tower was surrounded by some form of spiralling staircase. Only now do I realise that was wrong. The original Everton badge featured a slimmed down version of the tower, making it appear taller than it actually is. The new logo is more true to life, portraying Prince Rupert’s tower as quite short and stocky and show the ground the tower stands on in a more realistic light.
So as it stands, we’ve got a simplified version of the logo (featuring a new, simple looking Prince Rupert’s Tower), a bunch of angry Everton fans and interestingly enough a petition big enough to fill only half of Goodison Park. Were the other half in favour of the new design?
The persistance of the fans paid off and eventually Everton reneged on their new logo design and said that they’d consider the fans opinions more when they release yet another new design for the 2014-2015 season.
A few weeks after the furore of the new logo design died down, Everton put out three newer logo design choices out to their fans, for use during the next campaign, asking them to vote for their favourite.
The Everton fans opted for the first choice, which, unsurprisingly, is quite similar to the logo they had before any sort of redesign took place. The shield is there, the laurel wreaths are there, the quote is there, the tower is there (although they’ve redesigned it yet again, in my opinion, making it look worse) and the date is there, the only thing missing from the original, is the yellow trim. The club itself describes the 2014-2015 logo design the best; “The design is modern and clean but with a strong element of tradition, reflecting the most-preferred previous club crests, while being easier to use across the range of modern media.”
To be fair, the “design by vote” thing really paid off for Everton. The new club crest looks really good on the football shirt and losing the yellow trim was a really good idea. The two colour shirt and identity looks really classy and well considered. Nearly everyone seems happy with the new design, however, it fails to meet the original brief.
The original reason for the redesign was to simplify the design and make it easy to use across a number of mediums and it has failed to meet that requirement. As you can see from the Twitter mockups above, the first logo redesign comes off quite well as an avatar. However, the second design doesn’t fair too well at all. You can’t make out the date, nevermind the quote. So in that respect, the new logo design fails. However, it does look really good and retains more of the original Everton logo design, making fans happy.
At the end of the day, Everton’s in-house design team are (I hope) a team of professional graphic designers that have the design knowledge to make the right decision. They advised the direction they thought best and ultimately, they were passed over in favour of the fans. If I was an Everton fan, I wouldn’t know if I was coming or going with all of these new designs flying around. Some fans even took it upon themselves to create a new logo for the club.
It was good of the Everton board to concede the own goal for their fans, however, was it good for business? Changing your identity is a risky business, even for the smallest of companies. Sometimes businesses do perform a u-turn on their branding, reverting to their original design, but to announce two complete rebrands in quick succession is very strange and practically unheard of. Was the first redesign so bad that they felt obliged to do it? Not at all. I think the fans and the petition cracked them and the majority won out.
Yes, ultimately, fans make up a football club. And their opinion of the football club’s logo matters.
Without fans, you can’t sell tickets and you can’t sell merchandise and that means you can’t pay your staff. Money makes the business world go around and football is big business. However, should the fans be pandered too over the advice of professional designers? Probably not. If people raised a petition and said to Asda “we’re only going to shop at Asda if you change your logo from green to blue” would they do it? Somehow, I don’t think so. Yes, football fans get a lot more passionate about their team than shoppers get about supermarkets, but the principles are still the same.
Conclusion: Were Everton FC Right to Rebrand Twice?
Personally, I do prefer the newest redesign over the initial redesign, however, I don’t think giving in to fans/naysayers was the right business move for the football club and I don’t think it meets the original design brief of being easily replicated no matter what the medium.
Of course, fans pay the money and they have the right to speak their mind, however, would the fans have given up on the club because of the logo design? No way. I love Newcastle United, if they changed their brand identity and I didn’t like it, it wouldn’t stop me supporting them.
In fact, I’d love it if Newcastle reverted to one of these golden oldies;
What do you think of the different designs that Everton put out there? Were they right to give in to fan demand? Have your say in the comments below.