A masterclass in stakeholder management
Crystal Palace have unveiled their new badge. The Championship side will introduce the new design with effect from the 2013/2014 season (by which point it might no longer be a Championship side. COME ON YOU REDS AND BLUES! But I digress).
Long-time visitors at this cafe will recall that Palace co-chairman Steve Parish first started talking about a new badge in 2010. Parish – whose background is in marketing – felt that the time had come to drop from the badge the image of the famous building on Sydenham Hill from which the club (and local area) took its name. The Crystal Palace burned down, after all, in 1936.
Early options presented to the fans (and some developed by fans) were quite radical and ambitious:
Badge B (top, centre) split the fanbase considerably. Some (your writer included) loved the clever but subtle nod to the old Crystal Palace building (the curves at the bottom), and the red and blue stripes a homage to the finest, classiest football shirt ever designed. But at a time when many find modern football cynical, plastic and abhorrent, did this option really represent Palace’s brand values of being an authentic club that does things the right way?
The crowdsourcing undertaken on sites such as the CPFC BBS, led directly to at least one of the options above, and a number of professional logo designers among the Palace faithful flexed their muscles and became known to the club board. One of them, Dan Mulcahy, worked closely with agency CHI and the in-house team to complete the new badge and accompanying corporate identity, launched last night in Croydon.
The resulting badge is considerably more conservative than badge B or even some of the other options above. To an extent, such a comment misses the point a little. Parish refers to it as ‘evolution rather than revolution’ which is a tried and tested way of updating corporate identity – ask organisations like Shell and Ford.
Keeping the tattooists of Thornton Heath busy for the next few years
None of the elements (other than the new typeface and the inclusion of Palace’s year of formation, itself a very conservative addition) is new: the eagle, the ball (now a retro design). The ribbon looks a little fussy (and is a bit 1990s Oldham Athletic) but won’t appear all the time. I am not sure that the jagged eagle works that well with the round ribbon and you could argue that the lettering is rather unserious. On the other hand, the water towers are magnificent and the ball sits beautifully within the Palace’s central transept.
Who chooses a football club because of their badge? Perhaps few people. (Admittedly, it was one of the things that attracted my 10-year-old self to Palace, along with the finest, classiest shirt and the second division title. But I am perhaps atypical.) But it is a symbol of the club, something that makes people proud. Many people have their club crest as a tattoo. It’s a statement of intent to both those inside and the opposition. And, weedy lettering aside, it really does that.
Little wonder that on the BBS this evening, over 90% of Palace fans who express a preference say they like the new design: an amazing achievement for Parish and the Palace marketing team. A testament to three years of discussion, development, argument and, above all, listening to your supporter base. Well done Palace. Now let’s thrash Brighton on Friday and Monday.