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!