The Collingwood Magpies boast the largest membership numbers of any club in any sport in Australia, are the 3rd most successful club in premierships in the VFL/AFL, but have played in more grand finals than any other club, averaging a grand final position every 3 or so years.
Collingwood has also earned the accolade of ‘Most Polarising Club’ in the AFL, especially in Melbourne where Magpies supporters are the most derided of any club. The reasons behind the polarisation are many, but it is common for an Australian Rules supporter to say they follow their “team, and anyone playing the Magpies”.
Following my previous post regarding the most important parts of a team’s visual brand, in Collingwood you can see quite clearly the proof of what really matters to a team and its supporters. The Collingwood emblem is too complicated to use in most situations which means that the name, the mascot and the colours all rise in importance (I can see a similarity between the Magpies logo and the Australian Coat of Arms in this, both being official symbols of their respective entities).
My research into the history of the emblem has turned up empty handed as to the year of the emblem’s introduction, my guess is when the competition changed from the VFL to the AFL.
As I said earlier, the emblem is much too complicated to replicate at small sizes. To see this in effect, head to the AFL website and try to make sense of the tiny logo at the top, where the difference in effectiveness at small sizes is no more contrasting than between the Carlton monogram and Collingwood emblem.
Apart from the replication issues, the emblem is clever in tying in patriotism and a sense of tradition or history that appeals so well to Aussie Rules supporters. These patriotic ties are evident in the choice of the mascot (the Australian magpie) and the use of the Australian flag.
Not only is the addition of the Australian flag in the emblem rare, it is also interesting to note that it is one of the rarer examples of the mascot’s natural colours being used as the only colours in the brand (the others in the AFL being Richmond and to a lesser extent Adelaide and the Hawks).
All of these elements combine to make a fairly literal and traditional logo. While it’s not very functional as far as logos go, it does communicate a rich and uniquely Australian story and lets the rest of the branding elements do the heavy lifting.