How the Premier League’s new positioning will allow it to leverage its own brand story for the first time

The Premier League has unveiled a radical brand ovehaul as it moves away from a title sponsorship model to focus on communicating the stories around its players, communities and clubs both on and off the pitch.

The new digital first identity unites both the competition and the organisation for the first time, and has been created to work across broadcast, mobile and web globally. The update by design consultancies DesignStudio and Robin Brand Consultants is a “fundamental” shift away from the league’s corporate image to a more accessible and playful positioning.

Squashing rumours that it would be removed, the lion icon has been updated to work better across digital activations, while the overall positioning plays on the idea of ‘We All Make it’, the notion that everyone involved with the league – from clubs to schools – is equally as important to the brand.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday (8 February) the league's managing director Richard Masters, said the decision to move away from a title sponsor, after Barclays opted not to renew its 15-year association, gave the organisation the opportunity to review what it’s brand positioning should be going forward.

“The brief was to look at a single unified brand, for both the competition and the organisation, and a single unified message celebrating what’s best on the pitch and off the pitch.

“The current identity is very corporate with lots of capital letters, and really the biggest thing in terms of the communications is about numbers; how much money we spent and the amount of pitches we built, rather than the players and the work that goes on outside the pitch and I think it’s a fundamental shift.”

The league debated dropping the lion as its icon but after testing with its fan panel it found that 90 per cent felt passionate about it and had a strong association with the lion and the brand. DesignStudio carried out eye recognition tests on the old logo, which revealed the first thing people see is the face and crown on the lion’s head, and honed in on those features for the design.

Tone of voice and the use of bright colours such as magenta and green also form an important part in the future of the brand, said DesignStudio creative director Stuart Watson, who explained why the league thought the decision to rebrand now was pertinent.

“[Having] a clean brand for the first time in a long time means it’s time for the Premier League to take centre stage and tell its story,” he said. “It’s about flipping that stat based story in to a human story.

“It’s different in terms of tone, spirit and attitude. We wanted to create an identity that can stretch and talk to the kids on the street and the politicians on Downing Street, appealing to a real varied audience in terms of messaging and tone of voice going forward.”

The league will also now take advantage of a sponsorship structure based around seven sponsors from a variety of sectors and will use these to communicate its story globally beyond only offering them pitch side boards.

“From a sponsorship point of view what it [the revamp] gives the brand is a story," added Masters.

"It’s a different message now to when we were selling perimeter boards. Now we are selling an association with a story. Actually that’s a more interesting conversation with our partners and what we are looking for our partners to do is activate the new brand, the platform and identity around the world as much as possible and put players and clubs out there.”

The new visual identity will be introduced in June, while a full adoption of broadcast graphics in the UK and US, where broadcasters such as the BBC and NBC create their own graphics, is expected over the next three years as the league works to integrate its “strongest set of graphics”.