Forget the Olympics. Or the cricket. Or for that matter anything you might do with your leisure time that doesn’t directly relate to sport (time outside, family etc) – the football season is back. Whether you love it or loathe it, it is hard to ignore it. Clearly not hard enough for some at the Premier League however, as the 2016-17 season has seen the launch of a new visual identity as part of a wholesale rebrand.


The new identity was initially released back in February, but with the new season finally underway, the past week is the first time we (or at least, those of us who are happy to ignore sunshine/family for a glimpse of Wayne Rooney), have been able to see the rebrand in action. And it is a key component of the work, because, despite the fact it sounds a bit of a cliche, the work really is (unlike old Wayne nowadays) dynamic. A huge amount of background work has clearly gone into this – something that perhaps wasn’t best understood when the visuals were initially launched, but is definitely worth taking another look at now it’s swizzing across digital side of pitch hoardings.


There is lots to appreciate here.


The biggest change (yes, even more important than those colours), is the lack of a title sponsor. Without the need to share space with another brand, there has been a new focus on what the brand means to itself, the fans and the players. You can, through this understanding see the new identity as a sort of self-realisation. DixonBaxi, the branding agency who created the on-air identity, talked about the brand being ‘de-corporatised’. Which sounds ridiculous given just how corporate football is these days, but utterly sensible when you understand that this is what the rebranding is all about and has gone a long way to achieving.


The rebranding wanted to focus on the relatable, on the vast range of people (fans, grassroots and professional players) that go toward making the Premier League a success, the logic being that this will be more valuable in the long run than a co-opting headline sponsor. Cue a less corporate image, but also tone of voice too. One that instinctively feels less of a top-down imposition and (necessarily) more contemporary as a result.


The new identity is far more flexible and better able to cope with the demands of a multi-platform audience. A completely future proofed brand is impossible, but a clearly well delineated and recognisable set of elements and guidelines that fluidly work across a range of digital and physical formats certainly helps.


PL rebrand

There is a good relationship between the static identity, by DesignStudio, and the moving identity created by DixonBaxi. The moving elements seem to have taken principles from Google’s material design, and moves definitely away from the cheesy spinning 3d graphics we’ve come to expect from our sports shows. The range of motions is directly inspired by related actions on the pitch (again, reminiscent of the thinking behind material design). Ultimately not the most important thing – but a sign of the effort that has gone into a 360 degree brand identity. It is effective differentiation and it does feel like a brand.


DixonBaxi | Premier League Motion Theory from DixonBaxi on Vimeo.


Although the visual identity is being used already, the broadcast and motion elements will be rolled out over the next few years. It will be fascinating to see how the highly branded Premier League broadcast elements will be integrated into the various own-brand productions (like Sky and the BBC).


It was about time that the brand jumped into the 21st century. It is a massive, global competition and organisation, one that needed a unified broadcast, mobile, web and physical presence. Compared to equivalent sporting franchises in the US, the Premier League lagged behind. Not any more.


By Oliver Brown


Images courtesy of Footy Headlines