Branding & Impatience & Fear
This was going to be an article on the newly unveiled Juventus FC identity. I was going to write about how I wasn’t 100% sure if this extremely bold re-brand was a good move for them, but praise them for having the courage to do it. Turns out, they’re not as courageous as I thought.
Twice in the past week, there’s been a display of a major problem in modern branding and graphic design. Both Juventus FC and the Los Angeles Chargers unveiled new logos, only to cave-in to negative online comments and pull the logos from their social accounts. (It is still unclear what kind of role these logos will play for their brands in the future).
Why do I think this is this a problem? What did these teams do wrong? These teams seemingly did not expect the obvious, and crumbled to small voices about their brand out of impatience and fear.
For Juve FC, a team established in 1897 and with 60+ Championships to it’s credit, they couldn’t possibly have believed they would throw away everything that is their historical identity, replace it with an new one, and expect fans to have an instant positive reaction. A positive initial reaction would never happen, no matter how amazing or right the new identity is. Even to me, someone who doesn’t follow soccer, the new design was shocking!
The Chargers are a similar story. One day after their logo unveil (The mark only intended, at least initially, to commemorate the move to LA) the team switched the colors to fan favorites Powder Blue and Yellow. The next day, that logo was pulled from team accounts and replaced with the old wordmark.
“At any given moment, the world offers vastly more support to work it already understands. Namely, art that’s already been around for a generation or a century. Expressions of truly new ideas often fail to qualify as even bad art– They’re simply viewed as no art at all” — Art & Fear
The most troubling part of this is Juve and Interbrand spent who knows how many months meeting, discussing, researching, strategizing, designing, and building this incredible, forward thinking brand. A new business strategy and accompanying identity that shattered the mold of traditional Soccer teams and has the potential to place them on a world wide recognition level with brands like Nike or Coca-Cola. All that money and effort thrown out, by reverting back to the old logo after 1 day. What happened on release was obvious and they couldn’t weather the inevitable storm.
I suppose it might not all be thrown out though. At this point, I imagine the team will move forward with their new brand strategy/model, just with the crest as the point of the branding spear.
The new Juve FC identity is an exceptional piece of graphic design and an incredibly innovative approach to sports branding. It has the potential to take the team where it wants to go, and if that primary mark were 50 years old, it would be tattooed on thousands on fans today.
What it doesn’t have, or any new logo on it’s day of birth, is acceptance and understanding. That takes time, and time takes patience. There are absolutely no shortcuts in building a brand, let alone replacing such a beloved one. Change is scary and uncertain, even when it’s for good. Even the first time Bob Dylan played an electric guitar on stage, he was booed off it.
“Catering to fears of being misunderstood leaves you dependent upon what your audience can imagine, leading to work that is condescending, arrogant, or both. Worse yet, you discard your own highest vision in the process.” — Art & Fear
Both organizations, no doubt, were hurt by what people said about their new logos for 2 days on the internet. (Sounds pretty ridiculous phrasing it that way, no?). And it made them doubt everything they put into them leading up to that point. I’m not sure how much time and thought was given to the Chargers logo, but obviously, there was a ton put into Juve’s.
New ideas, whether they be bold as Juve FC or simple as the Chargers, require courage. A lot of people say they want to be the next Oregon Football or Apple, but truth is not everyone has the sisu to do it– let alone stick with it for any reasonable amount of time. They’re not the first either, from University of California to the GAP, organizations cower in fear over internet trolls and snarky backfire. Some people will applaud and say they’ve all done the right thing in going back to an old logo. I think it’s cowardice.
What is Good Design? What is successful design? How long does it take to get there? We have no concrete way to measure this.
But, what is being measured is the negativity online from an audience that is reactionary. Yes, in the world of graphic design and brand building, the opinions of anyone are weighed against those of the experienced and proven. Guess who is winning? Juve FC trusted the tweets and comments of people reacting naturally to what they saw more than the experts at one of the worlds very best Branding agencies.
That is why these teams reverting back to old logos out of impatience and fear is a problem. And this is NOT a problem for designers or marketers directly; it is a problem for the clients themselves.
If you’re going to brand or re-brand in a truly innovative way, you must have patience and you must have courage. It’s not easy being different from the outset, let alone changing who you are then being mocked for being a poser. In my opinion, with Juve FC’s new direction, they were not being a poser at all, but being truer and more authentic to themselves as a brand. Interbrand gave them an identity that displayed those qualities of an elite soccer club ready to take on the world and be a major sporting brand. I hope, the team will find the courage to follow through with their new identity.