Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Brand Launch - Some Initial Thoughts
The Scottish Professional Football League released their new branding on the 24th July. The new body was set up following the merger of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League in June 2013.
Neil Doncaster, who was appointed as the chief executive of the new SPFL earlier this month, said:
"A mountain of work has been done over the summer to get to this point and I believe there is much more that can be done."
"The new branding sets a new identity for the future of Scottish professional league football."
"The new league set-up reflects very much the recommendations Henry McLeish made in his report for the future of Scottish football."
The merger of the two different factions required a new brand that covered both the top division in Scotland and the leagues below. he design and branding teams at Moore-Wilson have cast a critical eye over the new branding and our thoughts are listed below.
We haven’t seen the brief or any meeting notes and we don't know how much freedom the branding agency had in the creation of the final logo, typeface and colours. The client always rules, and all comments below could have been on the table but may have been pushed aside.
The use of the lion as the main logo image for the brand is quite strange. Use of a lion in terms of its association with Scotland stems from the “Lion Rampant of Scotland” and it is part of the Scottish Royal Banner of Arms. The use of the image is restricted by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland. Only a few Great Officers of State are officially allowed to use the image. Both Rangers FC and the Scottish National Party have been admonished for using the “Lion Rampant of Scotland” in the past.
Changing the colour to Blue and Gold, instead of a Red Lion on Gold/Yellow background, may get around the legal restrictions that but it's still a very Royal image to use as opposed to something more National and less rooted in Scottish Royal history.
Another issue is that the Lion is probably overused in sport, especially in this part of the world. The English Premier League and FA both make strong use of the Lion in their branding and the Scottish Professional Football League logo does feel a little like a sub-brand of their English neighbours. We assume this is not something that they were aiming for. The renaming of the Scottish leagues after their English equivalents only reinforces this impression.
There is also strong use of the Lion in team GB logos and merchandise and at a time when Scottish nationalism is on the rise the admission of the Saltire flag feels like a missed opportunity. If the logo had been Saltire based even using a football (like the current Scottish Premier League Design) it could have been developed to represent all four of the leagues. The four sections of the flag could have formed the core of the logo with each section representing a different one of the leagues.
Although there is a football in the design, in profile under the foot of the lion, it is not particularly striking. It was cropped from the image used on the BBC news story about the brand launch. One of the SEO team didn’t notice the football until it was pointed out. The majority of leagues in Europe have a football at the centre of their logos and the relegation of the ball to the bottom of the logo does little to impart the idea that this is the logo of a football league association.
The font is not the most cutting-edge and feels a bit 1980’s. ITC Symbol was designed by Aldo Novarese for the International Typeface Corporation in 1984. Maybe they were aiming to invoke a time when Scottish football was at its height.
The Single colour version of the logo feels more professional because the tint looks like a silver or platinum as opposed to gold. The image of gold has become a little tarnished of late. All the advertising of the like of cash for gold etc… has made gold look cheap! The gold colour choice is overstated and does the opposite of what was intended to convey (if the aim of the gold was to convey excellence). We can see the darker blue working as it does with the Scottish Rugby Team but the gold should probably have been swapped for the blue in the Saltire.
It is not all bad news! The new logo is not the worse football league logo we have seen (hello The League of Ireland) and the development of the logo for each of the four different leagues works well and does provide a strong brand link between each them.
We do, however, believe, that the opportunity to create a strong Scottish brand identity for the new structure that incorporates elements of the history of Scottish football and Scotland as a nation has been missed. There isn’t enough in the logo to distant the new Scottish Professional Football League from the huge shadow of its neighbour in England.