The Football and Society Podcast

Kissing the badge: The challenges of rebranding a football club

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Episode notes

After the backlash in response to plans for a European Super League, and numerous protests targeting the wealthy owners of clubs such as Everton recently, it seems that big business and football fandom are increasingly at odds with one another. However, a recent study has revealed that some football clubs are hiring branding experts, in order to straddle this divide and appease supporters who might otherwise react negatively to rebranding exercises.

Dr Alison Barnes studied the ways in which several European clubs have attempted to redesign what she calls their ‘visual identity system’. In an article published in Soccer & Society last year, Alison notes that these attempts have had varying success. Fans of Everton, for example, objected strongly to a new crest design and forced the club to engage in a collaborative design process that involved the fans. On the other hand, Juventus have gone through with a dramatic change to their crest, one initiative among many including the creation of a special ‘J-Hotel’ designed to propel the club to the international stage and attract supporters from all over the globe, including people who have never engaged with football before.

Whilst clubs like Juventus are moving beyond the traditional fanbase and adopting a model more typical of multinational companies like Nike and Adidas, the relationship between club crests and football fans is more complicated than the typical relationship between brand and consumer.

Today we explore:

  • How has social media influenced rebrands?
  • What can help a rebrand succeed, and what are the pitfalls to avoid?
  • Are the actions and views of supporters who resist branding a form of counter-narrative?

…all this and more in our latest episode.


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