As I have said on several occasions in the past one of the best things about running this website is that I just never know what is going to appear in my inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the past I’ve been sent free swag, offers to meet up for a pint when I’m next in Scotland, requests for advice on how to get a job as a soccer camp counselor in the U.S., among many other things. Recently, however, I was sent something that left me speechless in the best possible way and I would like to share it with you in all of its glory.
If you are a regular visitor to the Tanner Ba’ (or if you followed my work at Avoiding the Drop) you will know that I am that I am more-or-less obsessed with football kits, that I have collected them since the late 1980s, and that I have some very specific and strongly held beliefs about what football kits should look like- and why. If I had to boil my beliefs down to the most basic level it would be that I like classic kits with one, well done, design element consistently carried throughout the kit. Often that puts me at odds with friends, commenters, and the clubs (Ross County F.C. & the New England Revolution) and countries (Scotland & the U.S.A.) that I support.
As you can imagine, when an email from Dave Watson arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago titled, “Scotland Rebrand Project,” I was more than a little skeptical. My skepticism was immediately dealt a severe blow when I saw Dave’s redesigned Scottish National Team crest- it was brilliant- and by the time I got to the kits themselves my first mature and critical response was something along the lines of, “Holy #@!, this guy is a @%#$*&? genius!” Once I had calmed down a bit my next thought was that I needed to share Dave’s designs with as many people as I could- I had to get Dave’s project onto the Tanner Ba’. I emailed Dave immediately and he was happy to oblige, and, after some very productive “back and forth” here we are! I’ll let Dave tell you a little bit about himself and his motivation for his Scotland Rebrand Project.
My name is Dave Watson, I am a designer living and working in Toronto, Canada. I am currently the Creative Director of Design for TAXI; an advertising agency that has offices throughout North America. My love for design is matched only by my love of football. While I love the English Premier league, my true loyalties lie with Rangers and Scotland. As a Rangers and Scotland supporter I haven’t had much to cheer about in the last few years. However, the resurgence of Scotland on the international scene has given me belief that maybe…just maybe qualification for the European Championships and the World Cup is finally possible.
A few months ago I was having lunch with a designer friend of mine and he asked me a simple question. What would your dream assignment be? I quickly responded by saying that I have always dreamed of rebranding the Scottish Football Association. I have supported the Scottish national team for as long I as I can remember. While I was born in Canada, my family has strong ties to Scotland. My friend suggested that I should do it in my spare time. Not for design awards or for fame, but to simply imagine “what if?”
Over the next few months I threw myself into this project. I did a huge amount of research. I looked back at all of Scotland’s logos/badges and uniforms since the formation of the SFA in 1873. Some of it was good, some of it average, and some of it was… horrific. Who could forget the watermelon and purple away kit they wore from 93-95?
As a member of the Tartan Army and as a professional graphic designer I have to admit that I was conflicted throughout the creative process. On one side, I wanted to take some of the best elements of the past and create a new look that was traditional and true to the history of the Scottish national team. However, as a designer I wanted to push things visually- I wanted to see how far I could go in making Scotland a more modern and sleek looking team. In the end I decided to take the best from both sides.
The Logo and Badge
The logo I remember the most was the one the SFA used between 1988 and 2000. I decided to use that lion rampant as the basis for the new logo. It was simple and classic. I redrew it to ensure it was clean and simplified, but for the most part kept the essence of the icon. For the shape of the badge, I was inspired by the one the Scotland used between 1900 and 1953. Classic and simple, I felt that by combining the vintage shield shape and a more modern lion I could create great something interesting and fresh.
The colors I used for the new brand will probably be controversial with traditionalists. Instead of using the classic navy blue with yellow, red, and white trim I decided to use a deep purple and metallic gold. The purple was inspired by a number of things: the Euro 96 home kit used purple tartan trim, I have seen some versions of the saltire flag that were on the purple side, but mostly I was inspired by the Scottish heritage tartan.
The gold color was inspired by a number things as well. Gold was used on the caps players received from the SFA to mark their appearances with the national team and the gold numbers, trim, and badging that were used on Scotland’s Diadora kit in 2007-2008 also inspired me. While I will agree the gold is very different, it still feels appropriate.
The home kit has one foot in the past and one in the future. A classic form fitting shirt with white color that’s contrasts with the purple and gold nicely. The newly designed oversized badge is placed proudly on the left side of the shirt. The typeface used for the numbers is the same one Scotland used during the Mexico World Cup in 1986. White shorts are used to contrast the purple top and instead of using the classic red socks I went with matching purple ones. The away strip uses the same colors but in reverse. White being the main color and the purple and gold are used as accents.
WeeFuse here, now that Dave has given you his inspiration for this project as well as his thoughts will executing it we can look at what he came up with- and it is stunning!
I have to say that this project was a true labour of love. It reminded me why I became a designer and it reinvigorated my love for the Scottish national team!
WeeFuse again, amazing work! Regular readers know how picky I am about even the smallest details of kits, but I can tell you that there is literally nothing about Dave’s kits that I am anything less that 100% enthusiastic about. They are clean, crisp, and even though they look completely different than anything Scotland have ever worn, there is no mistaking them for anything else. Now, while I am giving Dave’s work the ravest of reviews, I did have a few questions for him and he was happy to answer them.
Did you have any misgivings about the away kit looking a little too much like a Real Madrid kit (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing!)?
I had misgivings about everything during this project!! With Scotland there is so much passion around the country…the team…and the brand. A few people have commented on a number elements saying it looks too much like this or that, but I feel confident that everything is 100% Scotland.
I’ve never been a fan of national team kits having the player’s name on the back and I notice that you haven’t left much space between the number and the thistle detail on the back of the jersey- was that on purpose?
100%. This was another homage to old school football. Players aren’t bigger than the number or the strip. You play for Scotland not the other way around.
Did you give any thought to using the sublimated saltire seen on the pennant (and a few other items) on the shirts themselves?
I toiled over everything. How much was too much? How much was too little. I love the saltire but felt the lion rampart should be the focus. The flag and the thistle were nice details.
One of the few design element I’ve liked on recent Scotland kits has been the inclusion of “ALBA” somewhere on the kit to reflect the country’s Gaelic heritage- did you give any thought to continuing this practice or doing something similar?
Oh absolutely! I am still thinking of adding a few ads that use the hashtag #foreverscotland & #albagubrath. I think it is a nice touch and it is part of the team’s heritage.
Did Scotland’s current kit deal with Adidas act as either a help or a hindrance in the design process? Would you have gone in a different direction if Scotland’s sponsorship deal was with another manufacturer?
Not at all. Personally I think what Adidas has done in the last five years has been pretty good. I thought about bringing Umbro back but their designs over the last decade haven’t been great have they?
I’d love to see the Diadora era “cherry” and “sky blue” colors make a comeback, do you have any plans to design a goalkeeper’s kit or a third kit and might one or both of those bring those colorways back in?
I think that I will probably add to this project if I have any more free time. Another warm up or presentation suit, a goalkeeper uniform, even a brand video/tv commercial. Nothing is off the table.
WeeFuse one last time, if you have any questions you would like to ask Dave about the design process or his finished (maybe!) product he has kindly agreed to answer them in the comments section, so fire away.
Finally, I’m providing a link to Dave’s project in its entirety and believe me when I tell you that you want to click through to it. There is even more visually about his design process, other items he designed to accompany the new kits (everything from footballs to scarves, to match day programs- and more!) as well as alternate looks at the crest and a few other items. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks again, Dave, for your inspired and inspiring work!