As Leeds is my home town and because I'm something of a Leeds United fan I had to make some kind of comment on the club's new badge, announced today. There has been a strong backlash against the design from LUFC fans as well as football community on the whole. There's even a petition to stop the club implementing the crest which has reached almost 50,000 signatures within the 5 hours since its inception, and is rising rapidly.
According to Leeds, the new badge is the result of 6 months of research, and the consultation of 10,000 people. The crest features the headless torso of a fan (or player) performing the club's 'salute'. The intention here is to pay respect to the club's wide-spread devotees. It's a nice idea, however the execution doesn't match the sentiment.
Personally I believe that one of the biggest problems with the design is that it doesn't really look like an English football club's badge. I know that the design is supposed to be modern and perhaps ahead of it's time but it just doesn't work. Sheffield Wednesday did a good job of creating a 150 year anniversary badge in 2016 that looks modern and builds on their heritage, without detracting from their brand.
The current, outgoing Leeds crest (below) has become world famous since it's first use in 1998. Another key element of the badge (which is no longer present) is the Yorkshire Rose, which has been in usage since 1984. The Yorkshire Rose is part of the heritage of club, the city of Leeds and the county of Yorkshire.
One of the most repeated criticisms of the logo has been that the badge almost looks like that of some kind of far-right faction, with the out-of-context and inanimate portrayal of the LUFC 'salute'.
Going back to to the process that resulted in the final design, many online seem to be scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong. Who were the 10,000 people consulted, and why didn't they stop this happening?
Having worked in design and advertising agencies (as well as seeing first-hand the club's design and marketing efforts while at a previous employer) I can take a punt. My guess is that the 10,000 people consulted were asked a set of prompt questions as a part of the club's "6 months" of research. The people on Leeds United likely saw that a lot of people responded saying that the salute is a fundamental part of being a fan - representing an unbridled sense of comradery in the face of adversity. Some senior person will have picked up on this as one of the most common themes and decided to run with it.
I think that if the club were to have consulted the 10,000 people in the design stages (rather than just during research) the finished product would have been much different and something the fans would be proud of. This is perhaps an example of why sometimes a simple, visually effective logo is a better idea than trying to fit too much information into a small canvas. Especially if you already have a great logo.
This isn't the first time a rebrand hasn't gone according to plan, and time will tell if it will go the same way as clothing retailer Gap's logo redesign, which was quickly abandoned within less than a week.