Rebranding is a tricky thing to get right, especially if you have a huge fan base that holds a strong infinity with the identity. Get it wrong and it can be disastrous. Social media is now so prevalent that brands can face an instant huge backlash if the customers aren’t happy with the new look. Just take a look at what happened when Gap revealed a new logo.
The same scenario has recently happened at Everton Football Club, based in Merseyside, England. Everton are one of the oldest clubs in the world and have played in the top flight of English football for a record 110 years. As with most clubs, their fans are extremely passionate and so the club crest is a big part of their lives. I have no doubt in saying that it adorns thousands upon thousands of replica kits and merchandise which the loyal fans purchase. So what happens when the club decides to change an image that is ingrained in the hearts of many…the club logo (or crest if you want to be technical). The image below shows the old logo on the left, and the new version on the right.
The feedback from Everton fans hasn’t exactly gone the way the club wanted. Many have claimed that they could do a better job themselves (I would love to see them try), but most are outraged that the decision has been made to remove the laurel wreaths & club motto. The reason for these decisions are that they previous crest was too hard to reproduce and that it needed to be modernised. As a summary here are the changes:
- The two laurel wreathes are no more
- The club motto ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’ and banner have been removed
- The typeface for 1878 has been changed and is now less prominent
- The illustration of Prince Rupert’s Tower has been redrawn completely
- The shape of the containing crest is now fatter and more bulbous
- The radial gradient has been replaced by a solid and more vibrant blue
- ‘The typeface for ‘Everton’ has been tweaked slightly and now placed inside the crest
My opinion is that there are some improvements but that it has possibly been simplified too much. The motto will obviously mean a lot to supporters so to get rid of it completely was a daring move. I prefer the new blue and I agree that removing the gradient will improve reproduction. The main thing that bothers me is that the new illustration of Prince Rupert’s Tower, a famous landmark in Everton has become so simplified that it now looks like a curious clown (especially when coupled with the bright colours). You don’t want to be looking like a bunch of clowns on a football field.
The negative opinions of Everton supporters on the redesign have been so strong that an online petition was formed to change it back, and was subsequently signed by over 20,000 people. In a bizarre but welcomed u-turn, a statement was released on the official website by Everton FC Chief Executive, Robert Elstone. It reads:
Our chairman had demanded widespread consultation and we stopped short of that. We talked to our Fans’ Forum, our commercial partners and our experienced staff around the club. That was not enough.
We want to put this right. While the time-constraints of kit suppliers in particular present challenges, which inevitably means the version released on Saturday will be in operation for the 2013/14 season, we are determined to give our fans a greater say in how we represent the club on our jerseys, at Goodison Park and across media around the world.
In advance of the 2014-15 campaign, we are turning to you to help us shape and refine the badge we’ll adopt in the future. Evertonians from all sections of the fan-base will be pulled together in a fully transparent way.”
So with the promise that the logo could be changed for the 2014-15 season, might a happy medium look something like this?
It’s good to see that brands are listening to their audience but at the same time it is worrying that social media now gives a voice that is so strong it can help craft the identities of the brands themselves, kind of like customer crowdsourcing. It would help though if the design teams got it right in the first place and actually consulted their people before changing something that obviously means a lot to many people.