A football club’s heritage is intrinsic to its identity, and Southampton FC’s new branding is no exception to this. The club, founded in 1885 and based at St Mary’s Stadium, has lent its history as a focal point in its refreshed identity. Collaborating with branding agency Dragon Rouge, the club, which is colloquially known as the Saints, has evolved its visual guidelines to carry it forward into a digital-first era.
An initial audit of the brand, which hadn’t been updated for a number of years, identified that it had become “fractured and disconnected from their current strategic priorities”, explains Fabiola Wilcox, director of brand experience and communications at Southampton FC.
The brand previously used a diverse range of styles and an inconsistent presentation, which resulted in an incohesive identity system across the board. To create more harmony, Dragon Rouge honoured one key visual asset: the Saints’ iconic stripes.
Acting as a symbolic marker, the stripes breathe life into the branding in a bold and expressive way. Focusing on the ‘power of five’ concept, the design team applied the stripes using three different approaches, each of which aligns with a different value of the club.
The ‘Core’ stripes pay homage to the Saints’ classic kit, the ‘Positive’ stripes aim to showcase optimism, and the ‘Dynamic’ stripes express the club’s confidence in its mission to “turn potential into excellence”.
Dragon Rouge worked the stripes into the rebrand so that the Saints’ fans could identify the club’s communications without always having to use its crest. Though some make their appearance in black or white, they are most often red, which is Southampton FC’s primary colour.
They now feature on the Saints’ new merchandise, and across the club’s social media and digital apps. The aim here, Wilcox says, was to create “a simple yet future-proof system that incorporates our tone of voice and brings new flexibility and energy to our famous five stripes”.
The rest of the design has a clean yet retro effect. Following the initial audit highlighting that the Saints’ multiple typefaces were being used in every possible way, including outlined, 3D, tracked out/in, and italicised, the club’s base font has been retained as the headline font while the digital font has been replaced and is used more consistently across the identity. The rebrand is now fully rolled out across Southampton FC’s day-to-day communications.