Category Archives: Logo Reviews

AFL Logo Ranking

This is the moment a lot of people have been waiting for!

The AFL logo review wrap up – The teams ranked from 1-18 by their logo

1. Carlton

The Carlton monogram is far and above the best logo in the AFL. There’s no debating it. It’s iconic, it’s historic, it’s simple, and it’s memorable.

Read the full review here.

2. Hawthorn

A great mix of tradition and modern sport logo design, with a nod to the club’s greatest era.

Read the full review here.

3. Richmond

Another good mix of mascot and shield, the Richmond logo is proud of its origin.

Read the full review here.

4. St Kilda

One of the older logos that exudes tradition and history, even if the practicalities aren’t that strong.

Read the full review here.

5. Essendon

While some call the Bombers logo dated, I still think it’s a really strong sports logo that is easily placed on merch, uniforms or wherever. It still feels like a young and energetic logo, which is why I’ve ranked it so highly.

Read the full review here.

6. Fremantle

The new shield style of the Dockers logo looks fresh, with the D/Anchor monogram being a future great in the sports logo landscape.

Read the full review here.

7. Western Bulldogs

The brandmark is simple and effective, only let down by the text underneath, which does its best to avoid having personality.

Read the full review here.

8. Port Adelaide

A subtle message of forward thinking coupled with some strong imagery makes this logo stand out from the pack. It’s one of the more unique logos in the league and should be commended for it.

Read the full review here.

9. North Melbourne

Removing themselves from a period of location uncertainty, the Kangaroos have produced a workable logo with a whole lot more personality than the previous version which is let down on some of the minor details.

Read the full review here.

10. Sydney

I can’t get behind the font choice of the logo and the weird swan rendering at the bottom right hand side. It does get points for connecting well with the history and culture of the club.

Read the full review here.

11. Brisbane

One of the more dramatic redesigns in the league saw them ditch the traditional silhouette inherited from the Fitzroy merger in favour of an Aslan-style lion face. Points given for the research, points removed for the typeface and the separate styles of each half of the lion-face.

Read the full review here.

12. West Coast

The text doesn’t work, and the focus of the logo is on the wings of the eagle which means the most important part (the face) loses its impact.

Read the full review here.

13. Collingwood

The Magpies logo is clearly not that important to the team compared to the uniform. With an outdated magpie rendering poorly at small sizes and the awkward forced flipping of sides of the Australian flag, this is a logo which feels historic but could still be improved.

Read the full review here.

14. Geelong

Geelong get points for aligning their logo with the Footy Full On vision, however the text choices for the main logo are poor, along with the top of the cat head. While I normally advocate for secondary marks, the fake tradition and awkward cat rendering in the crest style logo puts this rebrand surely in the bottom half of the AFL. They’re better than the previous logo, but still have a long way to go before earning my respect.

Read the full review here.

15. GWS

If you wanted to design a logo for a sports equipment shop, this is probably the one you’d go for. The problem is that it’s for a team. It’s bland. I hope one day they incorporate a mad monk a la the Padres to give them a bit of a personality kick!

Read the full review here.

16. Melbourne

Too many elements, trying too hard to convey a sense of history. Needs a reduction, stat!

Read the full review here.

17. Adelaide

Apart from the weird speed/feather marks on the letters, the Baltimore Ravens association, the odd connection of mascot to the text, and the strange choice of typeface, there’s probably a lot of things kids will like about the Adelaide Crows logo. That says it all really.

Read the full review here.

18. Gold Coast Suns

It’s hard to know where to start and end with the Suns logo. It’s all style, no substance, and I hope we see the back of it soon.

Read the full review here.

Western Bulldogs Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Western Bulldogs

The history of Australian Rules in Victoria is a fascinating read. From the early VFA and VFL days through the two world wars, to the AFL today, each club new and old has weathered its share of challenges. We’ve seen clubs come and go, clubs move and clubs merge.

In the case of Fitzroy, we saw that history was no guarantee of a club’s future, with the club merging with the Brisbane Bears to form the Brisbane Lions. We saw South Melbourne move to Sydney to revive their flagging fortunes. For the Western Bulldogs, they’ve done something far less dramatic, but just as telling. In 1996, the club dropped Footscray from the name to officially become the Western Bulldogs.

In many ways you can understand the need for change – the Bulldogs have only until recently kept themselves in the modern competition through heavy AFL subsidisation, and their last Grand Final appearance was in 1961. I can imagine that some of the traits used to describe the Bulldogs by both fans and non-supporters alike would have been related to a lack of success on and off the field. It’s with that in mind that David Smorgon probably pushed for a change of direction for the club.

Others have argued fairly strongly and in far more depth than I about whether or not the rename was a good move, but if you take into account the fortunes of other clubs who have been in dire situations, the decision to rename the club doesn’t seem to be necessary to change its fortunes.

St Kilda could have easily renamed themselves Southern Saints (being the club with the highest wooden spoon wins is no proud achievement), North Melbourne the Northern Kangaroos, or they might have dropped the location out of their names altogether. What should have been the focus of the Bulldogs board is a willingness to change the perception about the club without removing it from its rich and storied history. If as a person you’ve suffered setbacks or had your reputation destroyed, it’s still not likely you’ll change your name to do away with the past. You’d focus on rebuilding the reputation. The Western Bulldogs need to realise that they are the Footscray Bulldogs, and that the name should be an immovable part of the club’s identity.

Now to chat about the club’s logo. Since 1999 the Bulldogs have used the football shaped mark with the hinted blue, white and red hoops underneath the white silhouetted Bulldog profile. Previously the club used a shield-like shape with the Bulldog silhouette and stylised Bulldogs text.

The current logo is passable. Everything is in the right place, the silhouette has been refined and there aren’t any poorly rendered areas of the bulldogs face. Unfortunately though it does feel like a corporate logo. The brand mark and word mark are completely separate – and the word mark would surely never be used on its own (I hope). It doesn’t feel like a complete emblem, not like the previous shield logo which had a bit more character. The previous logo did have that odd area with the quarter circle behind the bulldog’s head, but otherwise gave a better understanding of the club’s tradition than the current corporate bland-fest.

I’ve seen a supporter initiated website that is calling for the Footscray name to be reinstated, and they’re also calling for the Bulldog used from 1976 to 1989 to make a comeback. The website in question says the newer bulldog looks like a yawning cat or even like the aerial view of a golf course. I can’t say I agree with either of those two assessments. While the silhouette isn’t terribly exciting, there is not a single person with good vision who would say they see a cat in the logo. As for the golf course comment I have absolutely no idea. I’m trying to see it but I can’t.

In the end the problem with the logo is a result of a problem with the brand. Trying to dabble in Darwin or Canberra or wherever is proof of a club not knowing its identity well enough. This is a club with working class roots and a history that should be incredibly well tied into the area.

The Bulldogs should be commended for their work in reinvigorating the brand in recent years and their efforts on the social media front are being applauded worldwide, but I wonder: could a return to the Footscray name bring them home to a place of authenticity? I doubt it will ever happen but a man can surely hope.


That brings us to the conclusion of the AFL logo reviews. I’ve had a lot of fun reading about the history of each club and hopefully have improved on my writing skills a little. I’ve also really appreciated all the the comments both here, through the Disqus system on on Facebook. The next few blog posts will give some great tips and also reveal some of the things sport clubs around Australia are doing to improve their branding.

If you’re on Instagram we post occasionally about the work we’re doing. Head over here to see our Instagram account. We recently completed the logo redesign for the winner of the Love Your Club Competition: the Emmaus St Leo’s Old Collegians Football Club. I’ll be posting a little bit more about this once we complete the full range of design work promised in the prize.


Thanks to fnwb.com.au for collating the logos and listing the timeframes

West Coast Eagles Logo Evolution

Logo Review: West Coast Eagles

The West Coast Eagles entered the VFL in 1987 without any history, and were the second team (tied with the Brisbane Bears) outside of Victoria to become a part of the competition.

Once the league started expanding in 1982, only 2 new teams have won a total of 3 premierships, and one of those is West Coast. Their decade was the 1990s, where they never finished lower than 7th and won 2 premierships.

Since then, club has performed like most across a longer period of time – with successes followed by rebuilding followed by success. But I think most would be surprised at the speed of both their crashing down (1st in 2006 to 15th in 2008) and their rebuilding (16th in 2010 to 4th in 2011).

I recently read an article pointing to the effect of rebranding on a club, and while there were some positive connections between the two, the case of West Coast is fairly unhelpful in making that correlation truly stick.

During the heydays 1990s the Eagles had 2 different logos, one in the first half (the start of the AFL era) and in the second half. They shared a lot of similarities, and the second seemed like a more mature reworking of the first. Their latest logo was first put to use in the year 2000, and it was in this year that the Eagles reached their worst ever ladder position (13th), and it got worse the year after (14th).

The rebranding launch was timed at a changing of the guard with Ken Judge taking on the coaching role after the Malthouse-lead 90s. It saw the club going through their first serious rebuild in 12 years.

It’s not surprising reading that there are WCE fans out there who want the old uniform and logo back as they were so closely tied together to the good ol’ days. It’s also not surprising to me, a non-WCE supporter, because this logo is a bit of a mess.

The head of the eagle is the strongest thing here, after that the spaced out Eagles text is passable, but far below that on the taste scale we have the wing which takes up an unhealthy 60% of the logo space without looking any good, and the horrendous stretched capital T and W.

The idea of having larger capitals at either end is such a fragile one. I’ve seen it work many times less than the technique has been tried. It’s more likely to work when the contrast in size isn’t too dramatic (see the University of Wisconsin or Gold Coast Titans logos below), or when the inevitable emphasis on the last letter is somehow lessened (see the NUCB Wild Fox logo or Tennessee Valley Vipers below).

From L-R: University of Wisconsin, Gold Coast Titans, NUCB Wild Fox, Tennessee Valley Vipers
From L-R: University of Wisconsin, Gold Coast Titans, NUCB Wild Fox, Tennessee Valley Vipers

 

In 2013 it’s easy to say the Eagles logo is dated. The West Coast text, apart from having a significant number of serifs missing, is really showing its age. The eagle head would work in a new version, but out of everything on display it is the only thing worth keeping. With a little less history the club has the luxury of flexibility to adjust the logo, but if they do rebrand, I’d recommend something that excites the older crowd as well as the younger crowd as this one excites neither.

Sydney Swans Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Sydney Swans

Previously known as the South Melbourne Football Club, the Sydney Swans made history by being the first club in the VFL to be based outside of Victoria. Their interstate move opened the door for other states to have top-level teams, which lead to the name change of the competition from the VFL to the AFL.

Though you wouldn’t think of it now, this was the first case of the “dramatic-relocation-to-save-club” move.

While it was only 6 years before the club adopted the red and white, it took until the early 30s before South Melbourne became known as ‘the Swans’ due to the number of Western Australian imports at the club.

But the most dramatic chapter in the club’s history was in the early 1980s as the club fought off liquidation and amalgamation to survive. It was a heated, lengthy and messy battle between the ‘preservationists’ trying to keep the Swans in South Melbourne and those who saw the writing on the wall for the club’s future in Melbourne.

It’s hardly the start that a club needs with a a relocation, but to then battle against the loyal rugby league following in Sydney would have made for a pretty tough challenge. In true Sydney style, they became initially known for their flamboyance (helped by the likes of Warwick Capper) and though the club flirted with bankruptcy in the early 90s, it has now become clear that the Sydney experiment has worked.

The latest logo was introduced a relatively long time ago in 1996 after the club ditched the VFL template style design that had survived the AFL transition. From a quick glance the logo is adequate, however up close you start to notice the inconsistent rendering of the swan – is it filled in with red or is it outlined? the area to the right of the swan neck and the bottom right corner of the opera house just feels a little unresolved.

Another gripe I have with the logo is the choice of font. Futura Bold Condensed is a fairly uninspired option and because the logo is a little bit older we don’t get a sense of the reasoning behind the choice. My guess is that the Swans wanted to look serious, possibly noble (the profile silhouette takes away aggression and adds a sense of maturity and nobility in my opinion) and traditional through the use of the Red V. It’s the sort of logo that allows for the famed Bloods culture of recent years – it’s not showy or exciting but it is respectful, and that is an incredibly important characteristic of any sports club logo.

St Kilda Saints Logo Evolution

Logo Review: St Kilda Saints

‘Strength through Loyalty’ – it’s not often a small sentence can say so much. For a club that has only ever won one premiership, it’s a surprise they’ve survived. The strength of club loyalty really doesn’t have any equal to the Saints, who since winning the competition in 1966 have had only 2 Brownlow medallists, have managed to be minor premiers only twice. They’ve also only managed to make 16 finals series out of a possible 47 and hold the proud record of the most wooden spoons in the competition. Like the Fremantle Dockers or the Western Bulldogs, the Saints are generally seen as underdogs. More recently the club has recovered from financial pressures to become a regular feature in finals series before falling towards the bottom of the ladder in the past two seasons.

With the way many teams have operated in the past with regard to rebranding, you would almost assume that St Kilda would have changed the logo to distance themselves from the past. It’s not much of a past to be proud of, but like most St Kilda supporters I’m glad that rather than forgetting the past, there’s an element of learning from it.

The Saints first official logo was their first AFL logo with the stick figure, however it was always the crest that most accurately depicted the St Kilda brand. It’s with this in mind that the club reverted to the crest in 1995 as the official logo. It has been used on all guernseys from the 1930s and is the logo that practically all supporters would say is the most important emblem of the club.

Technically the logo doesn’t work well at small sizes which many designers would call a failure. However a wider perspective or definition of branding would tell you that such minor details don’t matter. The club’s colours, location and mascot matter. The club’s story and history matter. Whether the logo works at small sizes is a much less important issue and should be treated as such.

A crest with tradition will demand more loyalty than a fancy logo with gradients, shadows and a jargon-filled branding campaign. St Kilda have been loyal to their history, it’s through shared history that we all develop loyalty. Strength through Loyalty. Fortius Quo Fidelius.


Disclaimer: I am a St Kilda Supporter