When it comes to kits and all that surrounds them you may have noticed a pattern in my reporting on them: I prefer clubs/kit manufacturers to do two things, keep it simple and respect/reflect the history of the club/kit. As an example, I recently praised Sevilla and Warrior Sports for their new set of kits, particularly their away kit which took one element- the stripes from the club crest- and used it to excellent effect on both the shirt and the shorts.
Unless a club is purposefully “rebranding” (Wimbledon becoming “MK Dons”) when a club/kit manufacturer steps too far away from these two things (simplicity and respect for club history) nothing good can happen. Which brings me to the title of this morning’s post, which also could have been titled, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As you can see, Everton have used numerous crests since they decided that the royal blue shirts were not enough and first began “self-identifying” in 1922:
As you can see, they haven’t all been great. What you can also see, I hope, is that the last two are probably the best of the lot. The last one (which also came in a monochromatic blue on white version) is the one I associate with the club and although it has only been in use since 2000, I dare say it has become “iconic,” as recognizable as just about any badge in England or elsewhere. Stylistically, it’s handsome and historical, or to keep the theme going, it is simple and respects/reflects the club’s heritage. All of that being said, that doesn’t mean I’m against Everton- or any other club- redesigning their crest, I’m just against them doing it badly, which is exactly what has happened here.
According to Everton’s commercial director Dave Biggar, the new logo is mean to be “easily recognizable, easily replicated, and easily communicated.” Biggar points out that club supporters were involved in various stages of the design process, and I’m sure that’s true. Having spent a fair bit of time in the real world, however, I’m also fairly certain that Everton’s plans for the new logo were never going to be altered by any feedback given by supporters.
Another club spokesperson said the new logo was meant to be a “concise, modern, and dynamic” representation of Everton. This same nameless spokesperson also said that the new design combined “four historic elements of the previous badge – the tower, the shield, our name and the year of our formation,” failing to point out that it left out the club’s motto and the laurel wreaths. Around 15,000 Everton supporters have already signed a petition opposing the changes, choosing words like “awful” and “clownish” to describe the redesign rather than “concise, modern, and dynamic.”
I think, ultimately, three things went wrong. First, rather than being “simple,” the crest has become “simplistic” (more on the reasons for this below). Second, it does not honor the club’s heritage. Saying that four “elements” have been retained when the club’s name, foundation date, and shield” are counted as three of them is poor. Phrased more accurately, they would have said, “We’ve kept the one element- St. Rupert’s Tower” that is easiest to reproduce and we’ve dumbed it down as well.” Third, by the club’s own admission, making the logo more easily “replicated” and “communicated” was a goal. What that appears to mean is that we want to make it cheaper and easier to reproduce so that we can slap it on merchandise by removing the radial effect that makes the middle of the crest brighter, by eliminating any elements that might get “muddy” in small scale (the wreaths, the scroll and motto, and the shading on the tower), and by having as few design elements (the “total” is now one- the tower) as possible in the finished product. In short, they want to spent as little money as possible (reduce production costs) to make as much money as possible (put the new logo on anything that doesn’t move), and that doesn’t bother me. Here’s what bothers me-
They are wrong and they got it wrong.
A month ago Forbes published its list of the top 10 richest clubs in the world. They are as follows:
(Before continuing I’d just like to point out that all of these clubs regularly turn their riches into “silverware,” except Arsenal)
Of these ten clubs I think one can make a good case that they break down into two groups. Group One consisting of those clubs for whom a complicated crest with numerous elements or colors has not been a hindrance to wealth and success (Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool*), suggesting that Everton did not have to change anything. Group Two consisting of clubs that have gone the minimalist route to great effect (Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Juventus, Liverpool*). The key to successful “simplification” (and all of the ancillary media and merchandising benefits that go along with it) is, as I said above, choosing one element identified with the club and making it the focal point of the new logo. For example, with the slight exceptions of AC Milan and Juventus, the clubs in the second group have a logo which features the club name/initials and one element.
*Liverpool regularly use logos that fall into both categories.
Everton have clearly chosen to go the “Group Two” route (one element, plus club name and date), so why didn’t it work?! It’s simple, really: the design is terrible. Let me give you an example. I tell two designers what parts that make up an automobile and tell them they can make those parts into any automobile they want to. Everton’s design team came up with this:
Juventus and AC Milan’s design team came up with this:
All the same parts, all the same functions, but they’re not really the “same,” are they?