I know someone who leads a highly regarded creative advertising agency. I was lamenting the loss of advertising as I remember it. The simple ideas, the jingles that still live in my head. I asked him whether advertising today was just a case of ticking boxes. And surprisingly, and rather too quickly, he answered yes.
Last week the Football League rebranded itself, with the help of FutureBrand. The backlash on Twitter and various websites was pretty intense. Lots of not very happy fans. Of course, everybody is just commenting on the logo. Who'd want to be a logo these days?
It was likened to soap powder, dishwasher tablets and a petrol pump among other things. Then there was the addition of 'English' to the name. Which was fine, apart from the fact that Cardiff City and Newport County (from somewhere called Wales) also play in the league. Whoops. Overall, the new logo and name was seen as a travesty to the heritage of the Football League, founded in 1888.
The thing that struck me though was I couldn't remember what the old logo looked like. I had to go online to find what all the fuss was about, what heritage was being lost. I found it and heritage was not the value that sprung to mind. Sky football graphics with an accompanying whoosh was more on the mark.
In 1992 another league started in the UK. Minale Tattersfield created the iconic lion with one foot on the ball for this new Premier League. A strong symbol, full of emotion, that is easy to relate to. This logo was updated in 2008. Still a lion with his foot on the ball though. In years to come it may get another update, but I'd wager it'll still involve a lion. There's a simple, powerful idea there that has far more heritage than anything the Football League has ever had. And it's a shame that the new EFL logo hasn't found a powerful symbol to represent a great institution.
To be fair to FutureBrand, there were a lot of vested interests in this so it can't have been easy. But unfortunately the result is a logo that looks like it has been designed by committee.
74 balls (tick) in three swathes of 24 (tick), representing each of the league's member clubs ( big tick) and the respective divisions they play in (back of the net tick). Then take a standard sans serif and round off one corner to make it a bit more distinctive (we've all done it once in our careers). This rounding links back to the balls (another tick).
Logos need to be simpler, stronger and more symbolic. Less literal. The EU flag has 12 stars and has resisted adding more every time a new member state joins. I no longer have all the candles on my cake that represent my age. That's known as a fire hazard. So why show 72 balls? That's a lot of balls to me. The result doesn't even look like a football, as numerous fans have pointed out.
Hopefully the rest of the brand around the new EFL logo will be more successful. The animation is interesting. But unfortunately, when the animation stops we're left with a logo that is just ticking boxes.
Ian Haughton is founder and creative director at Handsome Brands