Arguably the most prominent soccer league in the world, England's Premier League is going an unconventional route with their logo and branding.
In an age of lavish sports sponsorships and branding, the top league in the U.K. decided to drop their sponsorship agreement with Barclays, a financial services and multinational bank based in England's capital, opting instead for a simpler name, ("Premier League") and recognition more in line with the top leagues in America (the NFL, the NBA, etc.).
With the new name comes a new visual identity: a new logo, a new wordmark to go along with it and even new iterative versions of the logo to be used everywhere from the home screen of your smartphone to promotional posters in London's underground.
The league even rolled out a heavily stylized video to reintroduce themselves to the sporting world:
From next season, the Premier League is going to look a little bit different…https://t.co/4n4mNohG2Z— Premier League (@premierleague) February 9, 2016
The soccer-loving Internet-going public at-large replied about as you'd expect -- with a venerable mix of jokes, memes and righteous indignation:
New Premier League logo released. pic.twitter.com/xwNftueeUm— Paul Townley (@prtownley) February 9, 2016
Loving the new Premier League logo. pic.twitter.com/0qdKTnXUyl— Eamo (@EamoV1) February 9, 2016
Change is hard, especially with an iconic logo and wordmark set like the Premier League has used variations of for several decades. Regardless of how much a new logo might prospectively grow on you, the idea that a visual sports icon you grew up with or grew accustomed to over many years is going away for good creates a sort of sensory shock, even to the most malleable of viewers.
Visceral change-rage reactions aside, is the new visual identity actually any good though?
"I like [the new logo]," athletic branding designer, director and animator Fraser Davidson told SB Nation. Davidson, in one of the more ambitious sports logo redesign efforts in recent memories, re-did over 300 of the SB Nation team blogs' logos in 2012, among his other career works.
"It feels like a continuation and a bit of an evolution of the old [Premier League] brand," he added. "I think it feels simple without becoming too iconographic and I like the modern use of color."
Perhaps as divisive as the logo itself is the much simplified, less "regal" wordmark associated with it. As pictured above, the league's even created different iterations of the logo, such as the shortened "PL" branding, for different use cases. So how does the new font and typography measure up to someone with an astutely trained eye for such things?
"Again, I think it feels like a progression and I think in the majority of formats, it works well," Davidson said.
"It's infinitely more versatile than the original mark and you can see in a lot of the collateral design that the type feels like a true design element. It works at different scales and positions relative to the lion mark and I like the contraction 'PL' version."
While some were quick to warm to the lion logo and even the new Premier League font, others were put off by a widely shared asset of the new proposed on-the-uniform badges. Posts like this made the rounds on social media after they first surfaced:
Really not sure about the badges on next seasons kits? Feels like it’s lost its grandeur pic.twitter.com/uvq9X3Q1vS— Darren Williams (@byDarren) February 9, 2016
Though Davidson himself responded pretty positively to the league's modern new identity as a whole, the badge caught him off guard too.
"It wouldn't surprise me to find that this is an application change made late in the day," he said. "It seems like the design team have put a lot of thought into how the lion and the type can work in a number of ways on a number of colored backgrounds (including white reversals) and all of a sudden ... There's that."
Davidson couldn't particularly recall having seen a similar design application in the space and didn't shy away from postulating that this was potentially a sort of eleventh-hour request from the league to the design firms behind it.
"Nowhere else have I seen the curved type treatment and nowhere else have I seen a containing shape required. If I had to hazard a guess, I might imagine that someone at the Premier League insisted on the idea of a 'badge' still," he added.
"Given that the old heraldic shape would clash horribly with the brand, this feels like a workaround. It's completely unnecessary and cheapens the look of all the elements."
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How long will it take for the new Premier League branding to take with the casual fan? History from other contentious designs dictate that the "trial-by-fire" approach is the best way to weather the initial dissatisfaction. Once the Premier League's partners like EA Sports, NBC Sports and others rally to it, and after a season or two seeing those logos and typefaces exclusively, nostalgia for the logos of yesteryear seem almost certain to wane. Whether the new marks are anything to write home about, as is the case in all applications of art, remains up to you.