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The Everton FC Rebrand: What Went Wrong

Design Forums: Today we published this article on our company blog about the Everton FC crest rebranding saga - the fans rejecting their new crest and demanding a new one. We would be really interested on getting some of your opinions: Which logo/crest do you prefer? What did the club do wrong? What can be learnt?

Earlier this year Liverpool-based Everton Football Club released a new crest as part of a rebrand aiming to simplify a design that was ‘often misrepresented’ [via Everton's official site]. Designed by their in-house design team, the crest was met with considerable distaste from Everton supporters, triggering a backlash that resulted in an online petition for the removal of the offending crest gathering over 23,000 signatures.
Such an angry reaction to a logo was reminiscent of the British public’s response to the logo used to represent the London Olympics last year, but in contrast to the strength and confidence the British Olympic Committee showed in standing by its design, Everton conceded their own goal and, in a complete U-turn, promised a new crest for the 2014/15 season. In addition to this they announced that the new improved crest would be designed with the input of the Everton fans.
As a supporter I can sympathise with the club wanting to reward the hard working fans by considering their feelings and opinions, but as a designer I struggle to understand the immediacy of the U-turn. Rebrands are a delicate issue for any company or institution, and in this case it is about finding balance between keeping hold of the desired tradition and identity of the club, while moving it forward and making it relevant today. The club cited the “complexity of the [old] crest made it difficult to reproduce for certain print, broadcast and digital media,” suggesting that a more streamlined emblem was required.
The revised logo was released last week and so far it seems all is well on the Blue side of Liverpool. The new design sees the return of the club motto, the founding year and two laurel wreaths to the top of the crest that so many fans miss on this years kit. Of the new crest, the club report that “the design is modern and clean but with a strong element of tradition, reflecting the most-preferred previous club crests, while being easier to use across the range of modern media.”

If anything can be learnt from this it should be in the research process that goes into rebranding something which is such a passionate thing for a huge number of people. Sports teams are unique in the loyalty and passion that people show towards the brand.
For example: I like Coke but if it is not available, Pepsi will suffice. I doubt that many Everton fans would trot on down to Anfield to support Liverpool if the Toffees happened not to be playing. Therefore any rebrand must be handled with extreme care and a huge amount public supporter consultation; a lesson learnt at great cost and embarrassment for Everton FC.
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