Aston Villa is one of the oldest most decorated clubs in England. Based in the Aston area of Birmingham they have played their home games at Villa Park since 1987. They were the founding member of the Football League and one of the original teams in the Premier League. This year has been the culmination of a several year decline that has seen them relegated from the top flight in what has been a season of lows.
Many have accused their owner Randy Lerner of not digging deep enough into his pockets to arrest the slide in league position. So the initial reports suggesting this rebranding exercise would cost £2million didn’t go down well. The club have since said the actual cost of design and implement is going to be under £80,000. The team responsible for the new badge and supporting branding is London based agency SomeOne.
Redesigning a club’s badge is a notoriously hard job. Unlike most businesses, clubs have a large amount of fans who are emotionally tied to the brand and very often are not too welcoming of change. This often results in a negative backlash whenever a change is made. It is interesting to note that historically most clubs have regularly made significant changes to their badge, however it’s a more recent phenomenon to see such resistance from fans.
At first glance it looks like very little has changed other than the club motto ‘prepared’ being removed. This is actually a significant move in two ways, firstly removing the motto from the badge is going to cause a reaction from fans. Secondly losing the truncated boy-scout saying allows the main feature, the rampant lion, to be substantially enlarged. The new lion appears subtly different, but has actually been completely redrawn. Once you’ve notice the changes, you realise how tame the previous version was. Missing its claws it look more liable to give you a damn good hugging rather than deliver any serious damage (possibly an apt analogy for this season). While the new improved lion looks much more aggressive the arms pointing directly out of the body appear quite unnatural, like archers quarrels planted deep into its chest. The tail also looks quite thin, the old one’s felt more appropriate for a cat its size, despite appearing to come out the back of its thigh.
Another subtle improvement has been on the typography, which is set in a thicker weight that fills the width of the crest much more neatly. The gap between the AV and FC has been tighten too, making it clearly read AVFC whereas before it was in an awkward middle ground where it didn’t clearly read as separated or together.
From a branding perspective the project really gets interesting when a 3D element is added, with all kinds reliefs and wood-etchings are going on. One of the most successful examples is computer generated bas-reliefs applied on printed materials. Those tickets look amazing! It is a shame they’ll largely be covered up with pricing bands and stadium plans in real world application. The stitching on the new badge is another high-point, adding detail and depth to create a maine that Mufasa would be proud of.
There is even a brand new custom typeface and icon set, these don’t feel very in keeping with the array of more elegant mock-ups shown. The font and icons seem more suitable for a betting company’s adverts or signage around a gym and realistically that is probably the intent. The notches taken out of the letters and icons don’t feel completely natural, take the i and ticket icon as examples. However it does potentially create another branch to the rebrand with classy corporate communication and bolder customer marketing.
Overall the badge will steal the headlines, but the alterations have been minimal and more of a refinement rather than a change. This means negative reaction can only be so large. Also it allows the club not to be rushed into a replacing all the signage, stationery, bibs, balls or anything else using the old logo. The greater change has come behind the spotlight where it appears there will be some interesting applications further down the pipeline.