I’ve written about sports and football club logos here on the Canny blog. I’m a big follower of several sports including football, ice hockey, American football, and wrestling. (Is that a sport? I’m not sure, but I love it anyway!)
Sports competitions are often a visual feast for design and great sports team branding. With so many teams involved, there are club logos, mascots, team kits/uniforms, animations, and much more. The list goes on.
Apart from being a visual feast, the best thing about the design element of the sporting world is the commentary that goes along with it. With sports fans being as passionate as they are, it leads to some great discussion.
A few years back, we wrote an article about Everton FC’s rebrand and a supporter linked to it in the Everton Fans Forum. That generated a lot of discussion around the rebrand on our article, and it was great engaging with sports fans about design.
Today, we’re taking a look at the big visual changes that happened across the English football leagues this summer. And of course, we couldn’t kick off this article without looking at:
The Premier League Rebrand
This was the most significant rebranding work of the summer. The top tier English football’s visual identity now reflects its top tier status.
Bold, inspired and bright, the Premier League changed its brand identity completely for the 2016-17 season.
Designed by design studio DesignStudio (now there’s a tongue twister!) in collaboration with Robin Brand Consultants, the Premier League rebrand was unveiled in early 2016.
Rumours ran rampant with The Telegraph reporting the “Premier League Lion is to be removed from logo in imminent rebrand.” As it transpired, that wasn’t the case. The lion now has a completely different look and feel, but it’s as prominent as ever.
“Lots of people around the world understood that lion to represent the Premier League … so it wasn’t about destroying everything that was there to build something new; it was about building on that equity and heritage” – CEO and co-founder of DesignStudio, Paul Stafford
The new identity for the league features the redrawn lion, a rounded sans-serif typeface that feels a lot more friendly, and a bright and vibrant colour palette which will reportedly be updated every 3 years.
The new look is a complete shift. Gone is the serif typeface, reminiscent of buttoned up shirts and suits. In comes a new, friendlier typeface in an effort to make the game feel more inclusive.
Yes, they’re overpaid millionaires running around a field for 90 minutes, but they’re our millionaires!
Personally, I love the whole rebrand. I’m just gutted that my team, Newcastle United, aren’t part of the Premier League in the first year with its new brand identity!
Instead, we’re left with the freshly rebranded:
EFL (English Football League)
What on earth is going on here?
Let’s take a look:
The entire Championship, League One and League Two structure is now wrapped up under the banner, EFL, which is short for English Football League.
The thing is, there’s quite a glaring problem with that. It’s called the English Football League but contains two Welsh Teams: Cardiff City and Newport County. And if current performance is anything to go by, next year it’ll contain three Welsh teams when Swansea are relegated from the top tier.
So, that’s a problem.
Now, let’s consider the logo mark. Just look at the Premier League rebrand above, and then look back to the EFL logo. What exactly are you looking at?
Its obviously meant to be a football. However, it’s ended up looking more like a basketball. Or a logo for a washing detergent.
The three swooshes are meant to represent each tier in the division, and the dots represent each club. This isn’t obvious from the outset.
All in all, I think they’ve missed the mark here. The name isn’t great, and the logo mark is a far cry from the Premier League’s rebrand which reflects the real life situation: The EFL just isn’t as good as the Premier League.
Manchester City are one the biggest clubs in the newly rebranded top-tier Premier League.
The club have reverted back to a design not dissimilar to their 1972-1997 logo iteration. Gone are the golden eagle, the stars, the motto. and the letters “FC.”
The ship stays and the red rose and circular design from their earlier logo are brought back. They’ve also added “1894”, the year the club was established, to their logo.
Originally leaked before Christmas last year, some fans have taken issue with the redesigned old design, as is to be expected. However, from an outside perspective, I think the new logo adds a touch of class, especially when it emblazons the sky blue kits.
One similarity that did crop up a few times was its similarity to the New York City Football Club logo design. And again, personally, I like that.
The teams are owned by the same group of people and you can see what they’re trying to do by aligning their brands. In fact, I’m fairly sure the blues are identical.
Aligning brands under one umbrella has always happened, and when both teams look as good as Manchester City and New York City, there’s really nothing to worry about.
West Ham United
Ah, the Hammers.
They may hold the title for the best colour combination in the league, but that new logo is an interesting choice, to say the least.
They’re moving grounds from The Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium. As a result, West Ham have dropped Boleyn Castle from the logo entirely.
They’ve also dropped the banner underneath the shield and bundled the text into the crest.
I’m a massive fan of simplifying design work. In fact, my favourite design quote is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French poet and artist:
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
On this occasion, I have to say I preferred the identity before the change.
I know the fans voted on some of the changes, such as dropping the castle and adding London to the logo, and the club did the right thing and listened. But I think the crest had a certain regality to it beforehand that’s been lost in the redesign.
Well, there’s really not a lot to say here.
Presumably the design brief said “keep it simple, but modernise it a bit.”
When Aston Villa were in the Premier League, they held the title of best colour combination alongside West Ham. I’ve always admired their logo too. Maybe its something about the claret and blue?
In the new badge design, the lion has been tweaked and the word prepared has been removed. This is probably for the best after suffering relegation last year, showing they were anything but prepared.
I can say that because Newcastle got relegated, too!
The Ozzie the Owl badge that has existed since 1973 has been replaced with the badge that it replaced. It’s like football club logo design inception around here! People are replacing old badges with older badges.
I’ve always been a big fan of the Ozzie logo and admire its minimalism. Even though it was designed back in the 1970s, the blue owl has never looked out of place in the modern game.
Despite changing briefly between 1995 and 1999, the owl has been ever present in the Sheffield Wednesday logo. And in 1999, when it was reintroduced with the crest around the outside, I felt it worked even better.
With the reintroduction of the old logo, though, comes a lot of additional fuss that I’m not keen on.
The owl is sitting on a branch has with leaves which points up towards an S and a W and down towards a White Rose of York.
It’s a very complicated design and shows its age, having originally been designed in the mid-50s.
Club owner Dejphon Chantiri has this to say about reverting the football club’s logo design:
“Having studied at length the rich traditions of the club, the crest that stood out to me in every way was the first official design of the 1950s and I am fascinated by the fact it was never actually used on the team’s shirts.”
I can’t have an impartial view on Sheffield Wednesday reverting their logo because I did really favour the Ozzie the Owl badge.
I do wonder if Chansiri chose to revert to the old crest to celebrate the Owls 150th anniversary? A little like our next 2 clubs on the list, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City.
Red to gold to red again.
Last year, Nottingham Forest changed the colour of their iconic crest from red to gold to celebrate their 150th anniversary.
Much like the Ozzie the Owl logo, I’ve been a big fan of the Nottingham Forest logo for years. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and the typeface compliments it well.
There’s not much to add here. They changed it from red to gold, and back to red. It was a simple transformation in honour of a massive anniversary for the club, and now it’s back to its original colour.
Let’s hope they never redesign it.
This is another anniversary logo changer — this time, to celebrate their 140th year.
Last year, they went from their regular crest that depicts the world and a football, to something more ornate and typography based. This year they’ve changed it back.
Their traditional logo has always been on the wrong side of average for me. A football, and a globe. Are they insinuating that Birmingham is at the centre of the footballing world?
Or, are they saying, “We’re a football team from planet earth?” If we had an Intergalactic Football League, their logo would have more meaning.
The story goes that in the early 70s, the club put together a competition in the local press cleverly entitled “Design a New Club Logo for Birmingham City FC.” And surprise, surprise — their early crowd sourcing efforts resulted in completely average design work.
Plus one for hiring a professional design agency.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Birmingham City logo. It has always looked too busy and cluttered. Even the anniversary crest ended up looking chaotic. However, I think I preferred it to their traditional logo.
Back to business as usual for Birmingham City.
Queens Park Rangers
Another team doing away with quite an elaborate crest design is Queens Park Rangers.
They’ve gone the Man City route and stripped away elements of their logo in favour of a more minimal, circular identity design.
Their old logo was very elaborate and the elements were all stylistically different. They had elaborate ornate shapes mixed with a flat centre piece. It was all over the place.
QPR are another team using the “back to the future” type of logo redesign, as their new emblem is not a far cry from their 1982-2008 identity.
Under Consideration think that while the typographic work and logo look great, it’s hard to imagine this type of identity working for a football club.
I have to say I prefer the design to the ornate crest they had before, but share the opinion that for a football team, it just doesn’t sit quite right.
Grimsby Town and Luton Town
The winner of least imaginative logo redesign in the Football League this year is a tie between both Grimsby Town and Luton Town.
Grimsby have gone all out and changed the typeface in their logo to a bolder sans-serif style type.
And Luton have reverted their 130th anniversary badge back to their regular crest by taking off the blue and orange banner.
Nothing too inspiring by either team, here.
And that’s the final whistle…
That concludes our roundup of the new logo designs present across the Premier League and English Football League this year.
As you can see from the reactions to some of these new logos, sports and fitness branding is particularly tricky. Satisfying the design brief is one thing, satisfying fans in another!
The biggest changes belong to the leagues themselves. The Premier League have adopted a new, forward thinking and visionary brand identity, whereas the English Football League have placed themselves alongside Ariel and Persil on the washing detergent shelves.
Let us know what you think about the logo redesigns. What do you think of your team’s current logo? Leave us a comment below.