17th July 2019

The Ball Identity: The Importance of Branding

Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey Senior Art Director


Reading time 10 mins

Our Senior Art Director, Mike Bailey, has been looking into the changing identity of football clubs over time and how important branding is when it comes to recognition and transparency for supporters.

Arguably the most recognisable aspect of any football club is the club crest – it’s sacrosanct to the supporters and any modifications can lead to unrest between the fans and the club. A change of team jersey is a given but meddling with the club crest without fan consultation is bound to lead to the proverbial red card.

Over the last couple of seasons, a number of clubs have tried to negotiate this formidable task with mixed results. So, here are some examples of those which have been relegated and those which have gained promotion…

Logo evolution

To coincide with the start of the 2013/14 season, Everton unveiled a controversial new crest. Designed in-house without the consultation of any fan forums – the new design had retained the familiar shield design, but the refreshed St Rupert’s Tower and the exclusion of the Roman wreaths and iconic motto: ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’, proved to be the tipping point.

Branding it amateurish and embarrassing, over 23,000 fans signed a petition for its exclusion. Within hours, a Twitter account has sprung up attracting a thousand followers calling for the new crest to be scrapped. It certainly proved to be a PR ‘own-goal’.

Calls for the new design to be shelved were ignored because merchandise and other materials had already been made. So, the infamous royal blue jersey had to endure the unwanted club crest for one season only. Following on from this fail, a focus group was set up with the outcome being a more suitable solution.

Logo evolution

As Italy’s most decorated football club, Juventus have endured mixed fortunes of late. Having suffered the 2006 football scandal which saw them stripped of two league titles and relegated to Serie B – to returning to the top-flight action two years later and going on to win eight consecutive titles.

It was felt that the club needed a new identity which would represent their change in circumstance and their excellence – both on and off the field. The new design was unveiled at the Milan Design Show in the form of two handmade marble balls – one white, one black – with the new iconic crest crafted in gold in the centre.

Clean lines and striking simplicity – the new crest is described as a symbol of ambition to go beyond the field of play and export the Juventus style to a variety of sectors, from sport to food, from design to art, from music to fashion.

So, it was no coincidence that last summer’s marquee signing was signed to extol these virtues and help transform the football club to a premium sports brand: step forward Cristiano Ronaldo. However, there was understandably some opposition to the rebrand, with the purest favouring the traditional design.

Other Notable Examples

Logo evolution

(2001 crest, 2018 crest rejected by members, 2018 crest proposed)

Manchester City
Logo evolution

Aston Villa
Logo evolution

Bristol City
Logo evolution

So, it’s easy to see how branding is far more than just a design or slogan – it’s the way in which your products and/or services are set apart from your competition. Logos in particular are a memorable and meaningful way to say what your want your brand to represent, often without words. For football fans, club crests are an immediately recognisable symbol of something that they feel passionately about and an iconic emblem with a lot of history behind it.

In order for branding to be successful – people should be perceiving your brands offering and position in the way you’d like them to. If your branding isn’t on-point, then this can prove to be a challenging task.

At A&P, we have decades of experience in developing strong, distinctive brands. Our brand experts map out the market to find a clear and distinctive space for your brand, then develop a unique visual identity and tone of voice to ensure that you stand out and get noticed.

If you’d like to discuss branding with one of our specialists, let’s talk!


Want to talk to us? Contact us or call us on 01772 770770