Category Archives: Logo Reviews

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 As with Collingwood who have kept using their slightly outdated logo for over 20 years, Richmond can allow themselves the luxury of history and tradition to let the logo be a secondary or tertiary branding issue.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The previous logo for all intents and purposes was getting really outdated and old, and too many local Tiger-named clubs had pinched it for their own uses which diluted the Richmond brand.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.

North Melbourne Kangaroos Football Club Logo Evolution

Logo Review: North Melbourne Kangaroos

For a team that many thought would see a breakout year, 2013 was a disappointment on all fronts for the Kangaroos. After a number of late-game fadeouts, the high-scoring team could only manage 10th spot while scoring the 3rd highest amount of points in the league.

The main thing that Kangaroos fans would be pleased with is their stability on and off the field. While the club isn’t faring so well financially, they have seen membership numbers grow by 17% (though paradoxically their average attendance has fallen by 9%). There’s been less talk of mergers and major moves and more talk about becoming financially viable.

The newest logo was introduced in mid 2006, and signalled a message by including the North Melbourne name that the Roos were here to stay, and that this was the beginning of a new era for the club. Since 1977 and across 4 logos, the Roos have always used the silhouetted profile of a kangaroo. In this telling move the newest logo changes the perspective significantly and helps the club move away from the soulless logo and meandering direction of the past to one that adds a sense of excitement for what’s to come. That said, the new logo isn’t perfect.

While the Roos deserve a commendation for such a bold move, there are a couple of issues that hold it back from the realm of the ‘Great Sports Logo’, and most of them can be found in the area underneath the Kangaroo’s chest and where it all meets the KANGAROOS text. It’s an area where poor rendering of the Roo’s arms holding a football gets slightly confused with its legs and then also gets blended with the text. To add insult to injury, there’s a pointless, hard edged shadow on the shield. I get it, they’re trying to make the kangaroo bound out of the shield, but it’s done so minimally as to be superfluous.

The other gripe I have is in the text. It’s incredibly boring. They’ve grabbed the soulless, corporate feeling part of the previous logo and included it here, which is a completely lost opportunity to make the logo feel more traditional or to make it appeal to the older base. This IS a club from 1869, for goodness sake!

All I can hope after seeing this is that they’ve developed some more secondary marks to celebrate either their history (apart from using the elements in fashion mercy) or common nickname ‘North’. It’s unlikely there are any other marks given the inflexible approach most/all clubs take towards their branding, which is a shame. The logo signifies a new era, but I hope they haven’t shot themselves in the foot by disrespecting the past; it would be a loss to Australian sport if the Kangaroos weren’t around.

Melbourne Demons Football Club Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Melbourne Demons

In 1858 a group of men got together to play football. That club became the Melbourne Demons, who are now the oldest club in Australian Rules history. That oldest club is now going through another incredibly tough period in their history.

After what appeared to be some signs of life after a long period of financial struggle and rebuilding, the club launched the latest logo at the end of 2010. What happened since that launch is best described as a nightmare. They’ve now lived through 2 coach-sackings, a major sponsorship scandal and a tanking scandal which saw a $500,000 fine for throwing games to achieve draft picks.

All that raises the question – do you launch a rebrand on the way up, at the top, or from the bottom? It would be hard for fans to associate this logo with anything but pain, but with a team now languishing at the bottom of the ladder (again) it may be some time before the glimmer of hope returns.

Melbourne’s logos throughout the past 30 years have been a study in poor sport logo design. No VFL shield logo was any good so we can let that one slide, however there are a number of elements that continually go wrong for the club and its logos. The latest is probably the best out of all of the iterations, but that isn’t saying much.

The second logo has poor contrast between the icon and text, and the sloped text was never going to be a good move. The third logo got rid of anything meaningful in favour of an incredibly basic and abstract mark with a poor logotype underneath. The latest logo has been finished to a professional result, but the main problem with it is that it tries way too hard to achieve way too many things.

The latest mark includes a watermark of the original rules of the game, an MFC monogram, a southern cross, a football, a trident, and a banner with the established year on it, all within a shield. And that’s not the end – there’s a flame in the M of the logotype underneath the shield.

Most logo designers will tell you to keep the concepts to a minimum.
To one if possible.

The main concept here is ‘we’re the oldest club’. To simplify here is simple – reduce the logo to a trident-crossed-monogram with the established year underneath (and Melbourne Football Club to follow). The watermarked rules are unnecessary and require explanation, the football is useless, the southern cross pointless. If someone has an explanation for the flame in the M I’d like to hear it.

The main strength of the logo is the logotype, which is both unique and expressive of tradition. I really like it.

In a conceptual sense I have no problem with the shield and banner, but the addition of so many elements really confuse the message and don’t help to push home the beautiful tradition and story of the Melbourne Football Club.

For the question of rebranding timing, the MFC have clearly gone through a period of unusual upheaval in the middle of a rebuild. To compare them to other clubs, Geelong launched their most recent logo the year after a long-awaited premiership win, Fremantle on the way up, Brisbane at the bottom, Adelaide on the way down and Hawthorn on the way up.
I wonder that if Melbourne hadn’t experienced all its drama of recent times whether the perception of the Melbourne brand would be different to what it is today. They’re no longer a financial basket-case which is a great thing for the AFL, and even though I’m not a Demons supporter, I would like to see a return of some of the smaller Melbourne clubs to the top rankings of the ladder!

Here’s hoping they can ride out the next few years and even improve to the point of challenging for the premiership, even if the logo doesn’t!

Hawthorn Hawks Football Club Logo Evolution

Logo Review: Hawthorn Hawks

As the youngest of the Victorian-based teams in the AFL, the Hawks began in the VFA before joining the VFL in 1925. Although Hawthorn is now the most successful of all the non-foundation clubs, their first 3 decades were spent at the bottom of the ladder, and their first finals appearance came in 1957!

In 1961 they won their first premiership, and after another hard decade the club really hit its stride. The glory days came for the Hawks in the late VFL era when they collected 7 premierships premierships across 2 decades (3 in the 70s, 4 in the 80s).

It was during this time that their first endorsed logo was used in 1977, and was replaced 5 years later by the hawk head logo. The 1982 logo lasted for 15 years and was linked by supporters to the five premierships won during that time.

The 1997 logo drew a lot of similarities with the 1977 version, and while it lead a marketing push resulting in financial success during that stage, there was no on-field success. That brings us to the latest version of the logo.

“The new shield portrays a sense of determination, pride, and focus. The Hawthorn Football Club is a club on the move. In the design we have hoped to capture the steely resolve it takes to win a premiership. That is the clear ambition of the Hawks.”

Ken Cato
Cato Purnell Partners (now Cato Partners)

Launched at the end of 2007 and designed by Cato Purnell Partners (now Cato Partners), the rationale behind the design was this:

“The new shield portrays a sense of determination, pride, and focus. The Hawthorn Football Club is a club on the move. In the design we have hoped to capture the steely resolve it takes to win a premiership. That is the clear ambition of the Hawks,”

Ken Cato – Cato Purnell Partners (now Cato Partners).

A quick scanning of Big Footy forums show a 50-50 divide over whether the direction was a positive one, however I imagine that after the success of 2008 the feedback would have become a lot more positive.

Lets be clear – the 1997 logo was getting dated  (mainly due to the container element on it), so to really show that you’re a team, club or organisation who is ambitious, you have to do something about it. The new shield does represent all of the character traits that Cato mentioned about the Hawthorn Football Club.

One extra thing that the logo achieves is connecting to the glory days of the 70s and 80s which was a really smart move. I’m a fan of this logo – it’s smart, bold and different, and though others have hinted that it is an american style of logo, I would say it doesn’t fit within that family. If I could fault anything, I’d point at the type choice (is that Dax Bold or Black, but squashed vertically?) for being a bad match, and at the odd brown shield outline which I don’t think conveys anything in particular.

BONUS:

I really enjoyed reading this little anecdote from Wikipedia because I love clubs thinking creatively about the club/fan relationship:

Guernsey retirement

On 6 March 2011, at its annual Family Day, club representatives announced that as of the 2011 season the No. 1 guernsey would be officially retired as a player number and instead presented as a tribute to the fans. Max Bailey, who was the last player to wear #1, made the announcement by saying, “..the fans are number 1.”

He then presented the cheersquad with a giant Hawthorn guernsey displaying “1” on its back. The oversized guernsey will be on display at selected home games.