Branding

The new Juventus logo has created a bit of a furor across twitter and I thought I'd finally write another blog post about my thoughts.

First off, why does it matter? Club crests elicit more positive and negative emotional response than almost any other type of logo. When I see my team's crest, I'm instantly in a slightly better mood and when I see our rival's, slightly more pissed off. The best and most storied crest are bound up with the history of the club and the town that they represent. That's why fans get them tattooed and players kiss the badge on their shirt. The crest is the club and it's fans.

There are tons of examples of these historical connections in crests. Liverpool wanted to honor the 96 so they put them on their crest. Barcelona display their "more than a club" motto by having their crest dominated by elements that symbolize Catalonia. Roma badge shows Romulus and Remus and the mythical founding of that city. Incorporating history of the club and the city into the badge is a way to forge a connection. It's why all the new brand launches have infographics explaining every element of the logo and what it represents (Crew's new logo launch is a great example of that).

While this trend can be taken to a silly level, the reverse of that was why I disliked the FC Cincinnati badge so much. It lacked any element that spoke to the city and that's because it was designed by a brand-minded, corporate designer, not people who are passionate about soccer. They were concerned with scalability and recognition in black and white, not immediate emotional response.

Juventus's old badge spoke to their history very well. While I don't think it's a stellar logo, its elements have meaning that come from over a hundred years of design growth.

  • Stripes - Juventus has played in black and white stripes of Notts County since 1903
  • Bull  - The symbol of the city of Torino (Toro is Italian for bull)
  • Crown - The kings of Italy hail from Turin
  • Oval - Different countries tend to have similar crest shapes (Germany favors circles and Spain and England favored shields) and Italy's is the oval (Milan, Bologna, Catania, Cagliari, etc)

The new brand removes all those in favor of a minimalist approach. The elements that they retained are a shield (created with the negative space), the stripes (again subtle), and the name. The new symbol for the club is a J, which dominates the new mark.

The reason that this is upsetting is not only because they changed something that the fans have developed a deep connection to, we all have to accept that crests will inevitably change, but because they chose branding over history and connection. This is a logo that represents a corporation not a crest that represents a club. Gone is the bull and crown that represented the city and also removed is the oval that represented its Italian-ness. It is designed to be subtle enough to put on everything without looking too much like a sports logo.

On top of the alienation fans might feel from the logo is the fact that it was launched at an exclusive event in Milan, you know the city that is home to the Juventus's two biggest rivals. The launch hashtag was in English.

The idea of club v company is a very real issue in modern football. I understand the challenge of keeping pace with your rivals and the need to maximize revenue streams but a delicate balance is needed. They are called clubs because people used to belong to them, had a stake in them. That's a very important thing to consider when branding and Juventus missed the mark with this one.