It may not be a regular topic of conversation on the terraces but I’ve always had a keen interest in design within football. As a kid at school I used to spend hours designing football kits in the back of my exercise books with my trusty four colour biro. I even went to the trouble of ripping out one of the pages and posting it to Arsenal’s stadium in the hope that they might consider using my design. I am still awaiting their response.
Nowadays football kits are changed nearly every season and although fans prefer certain design traditions to be upheld, they have become accustomed to the commercialisation of the modern game and the constant need for new merchandise to be sold in the club shop. When it comes to club crests however, it is much more of a sensitive subject.
Crests hold a lot of tradition and the majority have been around for a number of years, sometimes even decades. Every so often a club decides the time is right for a revamp which is usually accompanied by fan uproar as they try to modernise something that so many hold close to their heart. Take my club Arsenal for example. In 2002 they decided to move away from a crest that had remained largely the same for 53 years in favour of a modern, flat redesign which most believe lost a lot of the character and tradition of it’s predecessor. One of the main reasons was due to the fact that they could not copyrite the old crest but you can guarantee that they would have been further encouraged by the potential to rebrand all of their merchandise and generate a lot of new revenue!
The latest club to redesign their crest is Everton and boy did it cause a fan backlash! In an effort to simplify and modernise, Everton asked their in house design team to create a new crest which was released to the public in May of this year. Everton fans were on the most part deeply unhappy, mainly due to the decision to remove the club motto Nil Satis Nisi Optimum (Nothing But The Best Is Good Enough) and the decision to redraw the tower. In relation to my previous point on the Arsenal crest, one fan even said that “the tower is Everton’s equivalent of Arsenal’s canon”. Before long the club were backtracking and made a promise to reevaluate the design whilst consulting the fans.
In the end Everton made the decision to work closely with the integrated agency Kenyon Fraser rather than keeping it in house. They were asked to come up with three options for the fans to choose from and in the end they chose the crest below (on the right hand side).
As you can see the original tower has returned as well as the club motto. The addition of the laurel wreaths was also important to fans and ended up being included.
I am personally a big fan of the new design and actually think it is an improvement on both the new one created by the in house team and also the original – not something that can be said often in relation to football crest redesign. The typeface used for the motto is not to my taste but at least it’s back on the crest where it belongs.
So Everton have managed to turn a PR disaster into a satisfying result for them and their fans and this to me really shows the importance of consultation. You have to make sure you are asking the right people the right questions and not just doing what you think to be acceptable with no back and forth. Whatever your thoughts on the crest itself this whole story shows how powerful logos are and how difficult it can be when attempting to make a change, I certainly don’t envy the role of the designers involved here although I’d love to be involved in this kind of job in the future. You never know, perhaps Arsenal will get back to me about that kit design!