How Aston Villa’s Rebrand Aims to Revive Glory

Category

Branding

Read Time

5 min

Published

21 May, 2024

Hang on, Aston Villa are rebranding again? Pretty much a year after their last rebrand?

Rebranding any football team is notoriously tricky, as fans of the club get used to the way things look.

They can be reluctant to change, as grandparents, parents, and children often support and follow the same team throughout their lives and this sense of loyalty is passed on through generations. So when that team suddenly makes big sweeping changes to the way it looks or sounds, fans aren’t always impressed.

But according to Aston Villa’s president of business operations, Chris Heck, the latest rebrand for the club “makes sense” and is vital for them to shift from being efficiency-driven to ambition-focussed.

When Heck joined the club last year, he had big plans. These plans however did not include a sudden rebrand which was what he found on day one of the new job.

As soon as he was in post, a rebrand of the club crest was announced, marking a drastic change to Aston Villa’s brand identity for the first time since 1992.

It’s something he claims he wasn’t aware of, as he had planned to spend the first 6 months immersing himself in the business before doing anything major.

He added:

Then all of a sudden, I show up on day one and it changed – you can imagine that was quite a shock.

However, the rebrand didn’t last for long as the club is returning to an updated version of its previous crest as part of a wider full rebrand. This time though, the club has consulted its fan base in-depth, something that was missing last time around, ensuring there’s less friction when it comes to the new branding.
aston villa crest collage on different coloured backgrounds

Aligning the rebrand with success on the pitch

The rebrand isn’t just about changing the visual identity of the brand so that it looks better or more appealing.

It runs much deeper than that as the club looks to align the ambition and growth of the business with the new branding. The external visual identity should be a reflection of the internal practices within Aston Villa, as Heck explains:

It wasn’t just about the crest, it was about the business practices and the expectations, and the attitude and the belief of what we could be

When returning to the crest shape, they’ve opted for simplicity in order to keep the design uncomplicated.

It’s hoped this revised version of the original crest will help restore Aston Villa back to its former glory as they’ve suffered severe financial losses over the last year. In the financial year ending 31 May 2023, the club lost £119.6m after tax compared with a profit of £300,000 the previous year.

Aside from their rebrand, Aston Villa has significantly invested in their internal operations, nearly doubling the size of their marketing and sales team. With their return to the Champions League next season for the first time in 42 years, it is hoped that these efforts will help Aston Villa turn their fortunes around.
collage showing aston villa club colours and kit

Going global

As well as restoring its original logo and reconnecting with fans, a key driver behind the rebrand was the mission to go global.

Aston Villa wants to emulate football teams such as Real Madrid or Manchester City who have fans all over the world. The club estimates that they currently have 300 million fans outside of the UK, but they are keen to grow this number.

To do this, they’re leveraging some of their existing talent such as men’s team goalkeeper Emi Martinez who is a World Cup winner. There’s also Alisha Lehmann, women’s team forward who has the most followers on Instagram of any female footballer at more than 17 million.

Aside from the external-facing aspects of the club, focussing on their internal team has been equally important which is why they’ve doubled their sales and marketing teams over the past 12 months. From graphic design roles to sales and operations, they’ve invested heavily into their resources in-house.

This level of investment was needed since they’ve managed the full rebrand in- house, giving them “control of everything” according to Heck.

My goal was, let’s control our own destiny and bring everything in-house. I want to bring in everything possible to control our customer experience, our brand experience and, quite frankly, our revenue opportunity.

Brand merchandise will be kept internal too, including a change to the club’s kit partner.
aston villa and adidas collage on dark red background

Re-evaluating brand partnerships

Castore had been the club’s kit partner since the 2022/23 season, but Heck ended the agreement a year ahead of schedule.

Our kit was falling apart on us and I came to the conclusion this was not going to work.

The 2023/24 kit faced a lot of issues, tearing easily and darkening whilst the players were on the pitch due to poor sweat absorption. The female players also expressed their discontent, adding that they were uncomfortable with its design so the kits just had to go.

Ending the deal with Castore was a major challenge, but the club has now partnered with Adidas for kit manufacturing.

Heck’s initial evaluation of Aston Villa’s kit partnership led to a broader audit of all club deals as he wanted a “clean slate”.

Despite CMO’s usually falling into the trap of overhauling everything immediately for the sake of putting their stamp on things, Heck believes the rebrand is necessary.

He is adamant that this is the club that will “break the mould”. Aston Villa finished ahead of Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United, indicating a shift in the Premier League’s traditional ‘big six’.

This potential is why Heck wanted to join:

Aston Villa was the one that stood out. It’s in a huge market, it’s a club of history and then they hired this magical coach. This is the club that’s going to break the mould and that’s when I was like – OK, I’m in.

Images credits:
Aston Villa

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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