CR Blog

Any badge you like, so long as it's one of these

Graphic Design, Type / Typography

Posted by Craig Oldham, 21 November 2013, 14:37    Permalink    Comments (10)

The four badge options (plus current version) for Barnsley FC fans to vote on

Having written about Everton's decision to rebrand on the CR blog, writes Craig Oldham, I tempted fate in seeking private solace in my beloved Barnsley FC seemingly being set on the town's coat of arms as their crest (opinions on that one aside). But I was way off – the club is next in line for a public vote 'brand refresh'...

The work was announced by our recently appointed ex-Manchester United, Cantona-kick-defending, chairman Maurice Watkins, and sure enough, and suspiciously quickly, came the unveiling at of the above four options on a ‘refreshed' crest (plus built-in abstain) seeking their vote from the Oakwell faithful.

My first reaction was "Interesting move (for a club that seems perpetually settled)". My second was a sigh and a rub of my furrowed-enough brow. I couldn't possibly repeat my third, but, to paraphrase – "So that's what it feels like."

As I touched on in my previous post, gone are the halcyon days of community pride and local relevance in football. What we have now is [Your Brand Here] Stadium, official savoury snack providers, and 2:05pm kick-offs.

But whilst I understand and appreciate that modern football business operates quite differently – and most certainly in different circumstances – we are still indeed talking about a Football Club. Which again led me to think about branding processes employed in such emotionally-charged projects.

Everton's 2014/15 season crest is shown top right; the other two options fans voted on are shown bottom left and right. Rejected badge (2013/14 season) shown top left

As the Everton crest plight highlighted, fans felt alienated and rightly demanded a say. Their crusade led to a turn-around from the Club, from the take-it-or-leave-it stance to the voting method, similar to the one in which I now find myself with Barnsley. The thing is, I have to admit I don't think either club is in a better position.

These voting processes appear, to me, to be one of mock inclusion of the fans by apparently offering a choice when the reality is more akin to the Henry Ford "any colour so long as it's black" illusion.

Rather than involving and interrogating what supporters feel is important and best represents and symbolises their club, we're presented with permutations of some predetermined elements, all of them identical and pilfered from the amalgamation of previous crests, just chucked in different shields.

It's flower arranging. It's like Ainsley Harriot tipping out the contents of the Ready Steady Cook carrier bag... "Oooo let's see what we can do?!" It's like being undecided on your favourite colour, so lobbing your top five in only to emerge with brown.

Previous Barnsley FC badges

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling for a fresh start every time, but certainly a fresh approach.

Whilst I personally applaud Barnsley for instigating a process of change which aims towards positive reinvestment in a club that so desperately needs it, I cannot help but feel there must be a more open and inclusive process to employ when broaching a change of crest. An issue I'm sure no one would contest is one of the most emotive parts of every Football Club's identity, and that surely goes for every Football Club.

When he announced the plan, Watkins went on to mention that he sees the Barnsley FC as "an integral part of the social fabric of the community" but wants to "truly connect" and become "the hub of all things Barnsley".

Perhaps one way to do this would be to engage comprehensively with supporters and the community: before, during and afterwards. Then concentrate on the causes, needs, ideas and ambitions that actually mean something to the people who matter.

Who knows, this may even find alternative ways into maximising on commercial and financial opportunities for their brand which doesn't involve even touching the crest.

In my eyes, it's only after true immersion and involvement of supporters that any new representation of a Football Club actually have a chance of bringing in real value. Because box-ticking, in every sense, is just not good enough.

Craig Oldham is the founder of The Office Of Craig Oldham and has worked with numerous football clubs. His previous projects include the Democratic Lecture and the Hand.Written.Letter.Project and football poster-themed exhibition Glory Glory. He is a Barnsley fan and has indeed cast his vote (voting closes on November 25).


One could do a superb brand for a football club by thinking of the various materiel that makes up the brand, and how various motifs and symbols could be applied. Pretty much any sportswear brand does a much better job than any of these football teams.

Most of these are based on medieval heraldry / livery. We're a long way away from jousting these days, the escutcheon is a bizarre skeumorph for what fooball represents – war / competition, Would be nice to see something at least modernist which concentrates on the idea of competitive sport in the contemporary sense.
da bishop
2013-11-21 16:30:49

knowing Craig's potty mouth, if he re-designed it the 'F.C.' wouldn't stand for Football Club ...
tim sinclair
2013-11-21 18:55:06

Badge C is my favourite - the only drawback is it looks very much like Arsenal's.
Mark Ford
2013-11-22 07:04:48

It annoys me how Football clubs appear to hold their official branding and graphic design in such low regard that they put so much weight behind public consultation. Is a piece of graphic design that is the sum of the diverse and wide ranging opinions of over 20,000 season ticket holders really going to be any good? The new Everton crest, designed to apparently fulfil the desires of their supporters in an abomination. As an Evertonian, I am ashamed of the poor quality of the new crest and the pathetic way in which the whole crest redesign has been handled.

Would clubs be so ready to consult the fans on the design of their kit? No, because they know Nike or Adidas will do a better job. Do they consult fans on what players to sign in the January transfer window? No, they have accountants and football professionals to make these kinds of decisions.
Jamie D
2013-11-22 09:12:18

Completely agree with 'da bishop'.
2013-11-22 09:38:19

Da bishop - Only if that's where research into projects like this leads. The heritage and history of a club (archaic as it might be) are probably important to the people involved in the club.

Jamie D - I agree it's a ridiculous way of running a rebrand, but you still need to consult the fans. They are a key (if not *the* key) stakeholder in any football club and should have a say on the rebrand of their club. What Craig is saying is that you shouldn't just roll out four iterations of the same concept and put it to a mass vote. Like any rebrand, you need to consult properly with all the necessary parties (fans included) to find out the best route forwards.
2013-11-22 11:31:51

@Jamie D

Clubs do this with kits all the time, with similarly poor results
2013-11-22 15:38:25

A fresh approach for Barnsley might be for the club to spend far more time concentrating on playing football. This is a great example of why commercialism is distracting, why do they even have to change their badge when the team is currently playing so badly. Everton have a decent team though so it works both ways I guess!

At the end of the day though, the club wouldn't exist without the supporters and the club is part of a community so supporters should have a say, heritage is as important looking forward as it is looking back in time.
2013-11-25 16:06:57

Everton have taken a huge step backward with there crest design for next season. 13/14 crest is there best yet.
Stephen Coe
2013-11-26 11:03:33

When so many fans go to the extent of having the club crest tattood on their bodies - it obviously means a lot more to them than perhaps any branding agency can understand...
Paul C
2013-11-26 11:14:25

Tell us what you think

What happens with my feedback?

We no longer require you to register and have a password in order to comment, simply fill in the form below. All comments are moderated so you may experience a short delay before your comment appears. CR encourages comments to be short and to the point. As a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.

Get the RSS Feed