What the Premier League’s 2016 Rebrand Can Teach the Sports World
England’s Premier League, the top division of its soccer pyramid, boasts one of the sports world’s most iconic brands. Beyond its logo, the Premier League employs a distinct range of design elements that are instantly recognizable to any soccer fan around the world tuning into a Premier League match. This level of brand recognition is even more impressive when you consider that the Premier League only recently rebranded in 2016.
This comprehensive brand revitalization came on the heels of the end of a 15 years long title sponsorship deal with Barclays, during which the league borrowed largely from its sponsor’s brand equity. This revitalization, led by London-based agencies DesignStudio and DixonBaxi, capitalized on this opportunity to relaunch the league’s brand and prepare it for the continuing explosion of digital media.
In an industry where rebrands are so often do-or-die, now with four years of hindsight, what can the Premier League’s own rebrand teach the rest of the industry?
As marketing techniques and strategies continue to evolve, brands will need to adapt their marks and elements to keep pace and stay effective. Scalability is pivotal to a brand’s effectiveness and is perhaps one of the new Premier League brand’s most valuable features. Thanks to DesignStudio’s work, the new logo is as recognizable and legible in larger-scale out-of-home advertising as it is as a iPhone app icon.
As put by Armin Vit of UnderConsideration, “the biggest benefit of the redesign is a new logo that can be shrunk, made huge, switch colors, and more without losing its readability. It will look great on screens, from small to big, and it can probably even accommodate a new title sponsor when the time, inevitably, comes.”
Thanks to the versatile elements, the new Premier League brand elements are easily recognizable in virtually any use. DixonBaxi accomplished this by adapting DesignStudio’s elements to create a 360º TV experience that makes Premier League matches instantly identifiable no matter from which platform or country you happen to be watching.
We see the versatility of the brand elements, like the font, within these extended use cases. While some fans and critics panned the selected typeface following the launch of the rebrand, in retrospect, we can appreciate the flexibility that the typeface has granted the brand. The clean look and easily legible font are both visually stimulating and simple enough for virtually all viewers to easily understand.
Lastly, the Premier League, DesignStudio, and DixonBaxi succeeded with this radical rebrand in no small part because they were able to tap into the heritage of the Premier League. The lion is a core pillar of the British identity and even more so of the country’s soccer heritage. The design team who led this rebrand was able to bridge the gap from the past to the future by leveraging the Premier League’s greatest source of brand equity. By revitalizing the lion, the designers were able to prepare the league for its future without sacrificing the heart and soul of the brand.
What We Can Learn
As Matt Knorr of Look & Logo puts it, “Sports teams are the perfect use case for branding to shine.” Sports consumers don’t just pick up a brand of soccer team on the weekend because it’s on sale or wear a brand of basketball team because they like the material. Sports consumers take on their teams as core pieces of their identities. By learning from the Premier League’s successful rebrand, we can see how future sports rebrands will need to account for the continued growth of the digital landscape but also maintain a clear connection to a team’s history and heritage.