The Premier League has announced its first major rebrand in a decade, as the competition prepares for life without a title sponsor following Barclays’ departure at the end of the current season.
English soccer’s top flight – which from next season will be known as, simply, the Premier League – has teamed up with creative branding agency DesignStudio and Robin Brand Consultants to implement a new visual identity and unified brand across the division’s various platforms from 2016/17 onwards.
Comprising five bold colours – purple, sky blue, magenta, yellow and lime green – and a specially created lower case font, the new identity is a major departure from the all-capitals, blue-and-white branding inspired by the corporate look and feel of outgoing title sponsor Barclays. The league has, however, elected to stick with its familiar ‘lion and crown’ logo, which has been in place since the division’s formation in 1992, following fan surveys that highlighted the emblem's resonance with soccer fans the world over.
According to DesignStudio’s executive creative director Stuart Watson, speaking at an event for UK media this week, the new identity brings “a different tone, spirit and attitude” to the Premier League brand, with the new emblem a kind of “visual shorthand of the original logo” and accompanying broadcast graphics intended to be “clean, simple and sophisticated”.
The new identity, which was shared with and approved by clubs at the Premier League’s shareholders meeting last Thursday, is also designed to be ‘digital-first’, according to Watson, who noted that the league’s current logo does not lend itself well to mobile devices or work as an app icon.
As well as the new brand identity, the Premier League will also adopt a new ‘We all make it’ strapline, which is meant to acknowledge the continued support of fans. The timing of its release, however, appears ironic in a week of supporter protests over the escalating cost of Premier League ticket prices.
“From next season we will move away from title sponsorship and the competition will be known simply as the Premier League, a decision which provided the opportunity to consider how we wanted to present ourselves as an organisation and competition,” Premier League managing director Richard Masters said in a statement.
“We are very pleased with the outcome: a visual identity which is relevant, modern and flexible that will help us celebrate everyone that makes the Premier League. We look forward to sharing more details of our new positioning in the coming months.”
DesignStudio, which has offices in London and San Francisco, was awarded the Premier League contract in September after a competitive process, according to a league statement.
Asked how much the rebranding would cost the league, Masters said the process was “not cheap” but stopped short of mentioning figures. He also confirmed that a global marketing push is in the pipeline, with clubs and rights holding broadcasters set to be consulted again next month before the rebranding is fully rolled out in June.
“Today’s release is just the start, there’s a lot more to come from the Premier League before the new season begins,” added DesignStudio founder and chief executive Paul Stafford.
“Our aim was to create an identity that acknowledges everyone who plays a part in one of the most exciting leagues in the world. And with a fresh, new take on the iconic lion, we’ve created an identity that’s purpose-built for the demands of the modern world while staying true to the Premier League’s history and heritage.”
The rebrand marks the first time the Premier League has opted for a single identity for both the league and the company that runs it. It also comes with the league pursuing a new seven-partner commercial model in the absence of a title sponsor, with Barclays having indicated in March 2015 that it would not seek to renew when its current deal expires at the end of this season.
The Premier League, which last changed its visual identity and logo in 2006, has been promoted and marketed as the Barclays Premier League since 2007/08. Prior to that, between 2001 and 2004, it was known as the Barclaycard Premiership and, from 1993 to 2001, the Carling Premiership.
So far, EA Sports and Nike have been announced as partners under the new sponsorship model, and Masters said “three or four” new names, including at least two from new categories, will be revealed in the coming weeks.