Earlier this week the Premier League released its new look for the 2016/17 season. Football and branding are two of my favourite things (don’t tell my wife and son), so it was always going to be interesting to see how a huge global sporting brand, operating in one of the biggest industries in the world, was going to change. The premier league was set up in 1992 as a breakaway from the football league. Despite having minor facelifts and changes of sponsorship, the design style hasn’t had a complete overhaul since its inaugural season. This, therefore, was much overdue.
The new look
The new visual identity has divided opinion in the Milton Bayer office but personally, I’m a fan. The fresh, vibrant and contrasting colour ways are a much needed improvement on the tired looking blues and reds of the current brand and will help the Premier League stand out in an extremely crowded marketplace. These colour ways, along with the flexible, responsiveness of the brand, are representative of the digital world in which we all now live and football as a global brand now operates. For me, the new direction is more akin to a major sporting brand – Nike, Adidas, Puma, or the recently much-improved New Balance. This must have been a conscious decision and can only be a good thing, bearing in mind the Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world with a TV audience nearing 5 billion.
The focus on the lion’s head gives the new logo a much more modern and clean feel. Interestingly, the agency behind the rebrand used eye-tracking software with focus groups, revealing that most people are drawn to the lion’s face before reading the wordmark, hence the removal of the body. Despite only using the head, the important qualities of incorporating a lion have been maintained. Strength, nobility, prowess. The three quarter turn of the head brings a sense of confidence to the logo, whilst its shape hints to that of a football. The old logo was regal and traditional. Not bad qualities to have 10, 15 or 20 years ago – but not in the modern era of football. Not when the Premier League has fallen behind Spain and Germany in attracting the best players in the world. The whole new look helps reinvigorate the brand and appeal to a younger audience – something much needed following the disconnect with clubs and fans due to the constant rise in ticket prices.
The patterns are what really bring the new brand to life, especially when animated. The contrasting two-colour palettes, along with shapes reminiscent of a scratch from a lion’s claw, work perfectly together, injecting the brand with a real sense of energy. The duotone treatment of the images is very en vogue and again, give the whole visual identity a much more youthful look.
The typography does irk me somewhat. It just seems slightly less considered than all the other elements and arguably even child-like. When stacked, the ascenders of the P and L feel too tall compared to the x-height and create a sizeable gap. Having said that, I can see why it’s been styled the way it has, due to the simplicity it brings to the overall style. Plus, once reduced to the PL ittiration of the logo, it does work well.