Aston Villa’s new badge was revealed this week and was immediately met with the inevitable hail of criticism from the mainstream press with initial unsubstantiated reports claiming that the club had spent £2 million on the redesign which supposedly simply involved removing the word ‘prepared’ from the previous design. Here’s the Sun’s headline:
And The Birmingham Mail’s:
And The Mirror’s:
A statement from the club, however, says the project will actually cost less than £80,000.
In the new design, the lion rampant has been redrawn by engraver Christopher Wormell and SomeOne has created a bespoke typeface and a new set of assets including bas relief images, engraved marks and detailed stitching depicting the new lion. (Stitching will be introduced on shirts next season and the bas relief will be used on packaging and print materials).
Much of the criticism surrounding the project has been aimed at the club spending money on a redesign when it is at the bottom of the Premier League and currently facing relegation (which would result in a significant loss of income). But as SomeOne co-founder and executive strategic creative director Gary Holt points out, the project was commissioned before the start of the season at a time when Villa’s fortunes looked considerably less bleak.
The new badge (right) versus the previous one
Villa’s crests over the years, courtesy of SomeOne
“The context is that it’s landing now, or being discovered now, when the team is bottom of the league and more than likely to be relegated, which is unfortunate,” he adds.
SomeOne was commissioned when the club was facing a change of management last year and Holt says there was a desire to “re-energise” Villa’s image and redefine what the club stands for. There was also a feeling that the brand’s current image didn’t reflect its heritage – founded in 1888, Villa is one of the founding members of the Football League and one of only five English teams to have won the European Cup.
SomeOne was asked to review the club’s communications and identified that its previous badge was not performing “as well as the club would like” in digital applications. Holt says the project didn’t start out as a badge refresh but rather, an assessment of “the entire way the club communicates” and how it could communicate better across all media.
Villa had also run focus groups with fans who expressed some criticism of the club’s current badge and branding. “There were a number of fans saying, ‘the way we present ourselves isn’t really world class’,” says Holt. Supporters apparently also questioned the lack of claws in the lion rampant: earlier versions of the club’s badge, which has gone through at least eight revisions in its 142-year history, had featured claws, but this was later replaced with a lion with softened paws. “People were saying it didn’t best represent the club,” adds Holt. (A heraldic symbol, the lion is supposed to represent valour, strength and bravery).
In focus groups, Holt says some fans had also expressed a preference for an earlier, circular badge (something that has been raised in forums following the announcement of the redesign) but Holt says the shield was the shape most commonly deemed to be associated with the club. Based on this feedback, SomeOne decided to keep the shield shape but commissioned to draw a new lion, this time with claws.
The new lion, drawn by Christopher Wormell
The new lion sits larger within the shield and has been refined to work better at small sizes and on screens. “When you’re redrawing crests or heraldry for the digital age, you have to expand on the counter shapes – if you look at the previous badge, the shape between the lion’s legs would get very small and its legs would kind of merge together