All posts by Ben Newton

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

Richmond Tigers Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Richmond Tigers

Launched in 2011 on the way upwards, the Richmond Tigers revitalised a logo that lasted (at least in modern terms) for a fairly long time – 16 years. The club was born in 1885 and entered the competition in 1908, originally making a reputation as a particularly gentlemanly and sportsmanlike club. The Tigers name was part and parcel of the Richmond Football Club virtually from day one, though they were also referred to as the Wasps. It was in these early days that the yellow sash had its beginning, and is the most important part of the Richmond Football Club’s branding ever since.

I’ve discussed earlier about how the most important branding touchpoints for football teams have nothing to do with the logo design, and with Richmond this is still the case. As with Collingwood who have kept using their slightly outdated logo for over 20 years, Richmond can allow themselves the luxury of history and tradition to let the logo be a secondary or tertiary branding issue. Where other clubs have rebranded more often in that time, the timelessness of the Richmond sash makes any new logo a bit redundant. For the purposes of the exercise however, I’ll still give it a review.

The previous logo for all intents and purposes was getting really outdated and old, and too many local Tiger-named clubs had pinched it for their own uses which diluted the Richmond brand. It looks amateur now, even though it hadn’t in 1995. Everything about it now feels old: the overly detailed tiger and the choice of font, but most of all for me the gap between the H and M in Richmond just looks way too big. Those are technical details, however I also feel that it missed the mark in a big-picture communication sort of way. It just looks like a logo from the 1990s and could have been for any tigers club called Richmond. It doesn’t sell the club’s history. It doesn’t sell the message.

This new logo does something that bucks a trend which others have explored. Rather than removing the location from the logo and keeping only the mascot name (or making the location very small), Richmond is now front and centre of the logo. The Tiger is in the shield, but the only text is Richmond – Est 1885. It’s a powerful statement for a club that enjoys one of Australia’s highest membership numbers while consistently performing poorly. By embracing their history and the history of their location, they’re giving supporters a real story to hold on to. While the Richmond of today is worlds apart from the Richmond of the late 1880s, their team song (written in the 1960s) still rings true: “Like the Tigers of old, we’re strong and we’re bold.” This is a logo which represents both parts of that sentence.

It’s great to see a team recognise it’s own personality and develop that into a logo, even if the main touchpoint is the sash. Richmond have recognised the power of consistency throughout their branding and it has led them to a great result with their latest logo. It’s not flashy and gimmicky and full of vague icons like the Melbourne shield, but it is strong, it is bold, and it honours the past, and you can’t get much better than that!

Port Adelaide Power Football Club Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Port Adelaide Power

One can’t feel anything but a little bit strange about the Port Adelaide brand story – here is a team famously known by all fans as the Magpies, a proud black and white team with a history of success in the SANFL. This is a club that became successful enough to get an AFL license, but it came at the expense of their name and colours – 2 of the most important touchpoints of any sporting brand.

It’s with this in mind that I’m reviewing the Port Adelaide Logo. How do you approach a situation where you’re a new guy in the big competition but you have a huge history to respect? How do you approach it when your name and colours clash with the biggest club in the new competition? There’s so much at stake but how could you possibly pass up the opportunity to become a part of the AFL?

The Port Power logo is the official symbol of the AFL team, however it will never be the name or logo that connects with any supporter with a bit of history with the club. On the other hand, it’s an investment into the future. The kids growing up with the brand will embrace it as their parents get them to games and they’ll fall in love with the unique teal, the superstar players and the lightning bolt.

As far as AFL logos go, this one sits just above the middle of the pack. The weaknesses with the logo are easy to point out – it’s a bit basic, the arm and lightning illustration has some awkward lines with varied stroke weights. That said, I like how they have respected the black and white of their 140 year old Magpie past in the bottom half, but they’ve used it to sort of break with tradition. The Magpie past is in the Power’s roots, but the Teal is the Power’s future (if you read it from the bottom up). Another positive is the use of a revolutionary style fist – popular with grassroots style revolutions which have traditionally started in the working class, a demographic that the Magpies of old were born from. So there’s plenty of symbolism in there which will always get a tick from me (unless it’s over the top like the Melbourne Demons logo). A glaring omission is ‘Port Adelaide Football Club’ which in my mind is a foolish move (I’m pro-location based) but in a way is understandable, especially in this context.

All in all, Port really have made the best out of an awkward situation here, and my hope is that after developing their brand and story a little more they can express the traditions of their genesis in a way that excites and inspires both the rusted on fanatics and the 7 year olds kicking their Sherrin in the park.