The Premier League launched its logo yesterday to the usual cacophony of comment. Most loved it, some hated it, opinions were shared, comparisons were made and parodies were quickly Photoshopped. There is nothing quite like a logo re-design to bring out both the art school student and marketing expert in everyone.
But this isn’t just about a new logo; it’s about a new brand.
As soon as the Premier League decided last year to move forward without a title sponsor, a rebrand became necessary. But more than that, the opportunity to rebrand should have been one of the biggest reasons to move away from the title sponsorship model in the first place. In other words, the rebrand might have driven the new commercial model, not the other way around.
The Premier League brand needs a fresh start because the current one doesn’t stand for very much at all beyond entertaining (and possibly over-hyped) football and commercial success. That’s because, with a title sponsor’s brand so closely connected with their own, they lacked the authority and flexibility they needed to develop a stand-alone Premier League brand. That meant that the product – the world’s most popular and successful domestic football league – became the brand.
But now they do have the opportunity to create and build their own brand and that means filling it with purpose, meaning and values. Like any great brand, the Premier League needs to articulate what it stands for and what it believes in. American rights holders do a good job of this: the NFL is aligned behind its six brand values of Integrity, Excellence, Community, Teamwork, Innovation and Tradition, while the MLS represents its core values of Club, Country, Community as the three stars on its own new(ish) logo.
The Premier League needs to create something that fans and partners can get behind and buy into, while remembering that fans are passionate about the teams, rather than the league itself. They need to connect with fans in a way that enhances the role that football plays in their lives, and they need to enable the clubs to do the same. They need to build a tapestry of touch points that stimulate all the senses. For example, what is the sound of the Premier League and how does that play out everywhere from the live matchday experience to the TV broadcast coverage and the social media conversation?
Most importantly, this means behaving entirely consistently with the brand and what it stands for, through every single fan interaction and over a number of years. Because, ultimately, what the Premier League stands for won’t be decided by the Premier League, but by the fans.
The new logo is just the start.