When my family moved to the state of Victoria from the Rugby League heartland of Newcastle, the first family we became friends with were mad Essendon supporters. Through that family I was introduced to the game of Australian Rules, and even though I didn’t stick with my support of the Bombers (my family became St Kilda supporters, and I was dragged into it!) I still look back at that time fondly.
The latest Bombers logo which was introduced back in the late 90s (sometime between 1996 and 1999, the information on the web is sketchy) would have made for quite a controversy back in the day because it is a huge leap from the previous shield logo which had been in use for some time. If the same leap had been made today, you’d be able to expect a change.org petition and facebook groups all clamouring to destroy the new logo. Never before has people power been so influential, and never before has complaining in public been so easy. Even now, with the current logo aging incredibly well for the 15 years its been around, there is still a facebook group asking for the bomber plane to be flying
up in order to match the team song. As they say, you can’t please everybody (and isn’t a swooping plane much more fear-inducing?).
One reason for the rebrand may have been to move away from the VFL feel of the logo, but as in past posts I’ve noted that a couple of teams have aimed for a family friendly or kid focused logo, and that may have come into play with the EFC logo. The main thought I have about that is while it’s a legitimate reason for rebranding, children like myself back in the mid-90s didn’t care about the logo. Kids care about the players and most of all they love replicating their heroes deeds in the backyard. They honestly do not care about the colours or the logo. They love the experience of going to the game, and the family-and-friend time that comes with it.
As they grow up and become adults, grown AFL supporters come to love the Australian-centric nature of the game, which is why many turn their back on U.S. style logos. Is it because they don’t want their club to feel like a corporation? Do they want to keep the history of the community strong? Or is it just an old-fashioned reason that is resistant to all forms of change?
The problem with any protest here is that there really isn’t anything legitimate to complain about. With clean lines, bold colours and a modern feel (15 years old and still looks as fresh as ever!), the menacing bomber mascot and custom type above it is the sort of modernisation that should have won over both kids and adults alike. In my mind it is the best of the modern AFL logos. The plane shape gives it a slight shield-like appearance while the two-tone grey outline gives it a 3-dimensional yet completely tasteful effect.
If I can be a little bit picky, the one thing I would change is the black and white nose, which is a needless palette change from the rest of the mascot.
Now to come back to the topic of brand changes in the Aussie Rules market; the Brisbane Lions complex research phase and market testing feedback lead to a public backlash (though predominantly from non-members). So should clubs focus on making only minor changes to avoid supporter backlash, or should they feel free to make bolder moves to match their corporate vision? It’ll never be an exact science, but I can bet that those on each side of the fence will always find it difficult to relate to the other’s point of view. That will always be the challenge of the board, and more importantly for the designer.