26 January 2018

Leave sports logos to the professionals

Yielding to highly negative backlash from fans and observers, less than 48 hours after historic English football side Leeds United launched their new club badge they scrapped it.

The irony here is that Leeds United actually claims to have consulted 10,000 people in developing the new badge. I don't doubt it for a moment and there is a valuable lesson here -  something as important as the club badge should be left to professionals and not crowd-sourced!

Having a bit of a sports logo fetish, I have seen this play out many times - where clubs leave badge ideas to their fans and ultimately end-up with a total disaster or if lucky something fairly average.

One of the worst examples of logos-gone-wild unfortunately happened to the club that I support - Aston Villa. In the late 2000's they developed their new badge based on a fan survey and the logo turned out to be a total mess. For example they asked something like if supporters preferred "Aston Villa", "Aston Villa FC", "Aston Villa Football Club" or "AVFC" on the club badge. The majority preferred some version of the unique club name but the vote was split three ways among the non-acronym options and AVFC ended up with the highest vote percentage at a mere 30% or so. Thus AVFC made its way onto the badge, an absolute tragedy as one of the most special characteristic of the club is its non traditional name. There are many United's and FC's, but only one Villa! is a popular cry among the club's faithful.

The acronym AVFC was just one of many defects of the crowd-sourced logo. Ask any competent graphic designer and they could identify another dozen flaws with the crest. It's one reason I have refused to purchase a Villa kit for nearly a decade.
The new Villa badge and the recently updated version (right)

A few years later Aston Villa spent GBP 80,000 to alter the faulty badge. It's still pretty poor. Hopefully the club management will do a proper update soon. (UPDATE:  Villa changed their crest in 2023)

On the other hand, despite early criticism from traditionalists, sports organizations like Juventus and Big Ten Conference developed new identities that were masterpieces through collaborations with leading design and branding firms Interbrand and Pentagram respectfully. Amazing the results you can achieve when you hire competence.