For fans and consumers, rebrands perhaps don’t often make sense: why are logos changed at all, when only small nuances differ from the previous version? The changes – as minute and unimportant as they may seem to the untrained eye – are important to marketers and experts as an essential part of the overall brand strategy, requiring leadership, design and creativity.
The DFL recently completed such a brand refresh for the Bundesliga, which now sports a fresh look and feel. The rebrand was even awarded with a nomination in PromaxBDA’s Top Ten Rebrands 2017, ranking sixth overall. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016, PromaxBDA is a member association representing more than 10,000 companies and individuals from major media organizations, marketing agencies, strategic and creative vendors and technology providers around the globe. Their annual awards honour the best marketers and designers worldwide.
In cooperation with stakeholders from across the DFL Group, the Argentina-based design agency nxtid developed unique national and international broadcast openers for the 2017 season, along with a broad set of graphics for highlight shows and other programs in and around the matches themselves.
The new brand elements are built on a grid system of layered rectangular cards that slide left and right in different horizontal configurations. This horizontal movement and changes in size resemble the intuitive motion of swiping and pinching on a tablet or smartphone. Throughout its branding, the Bundesliga strictly utilizes horizontal movement, reinforcing the German precision, regardless of whether team logos, images, match footage or other information is displayed on the rectangular cards. While the cards zoom in and out and change dimension, the ratio of their parameters remain constant.
With its new logo, the Bundesliga caters to a need that is becoming more and more evident in modern marketing but in the world of sports in particular: mobile internet usage is increasingly dominating, thereby posing completely new challenges to brands in terms of usability, user experience and convenience. For DFL, the only possible answer to these challenges was by putting functionality first and opting for sleek, elegant visuals and a nuance of colour and tone, rather than dramatic and glitzy 3D graphics. On mobile, logos are often used in scoreboards, stats, or clocks where high readability and clear colours are of utmost importance – for users but partners as well.
DFL’s was praised by PromaxBDS for its decision to neglect fanciness in favour of sleek designs and it becomes increasingly evident that this is developing into a huge trend in the world of sports, because other sports leagues, such as the Premier League and the Eredivisie, have recently completed a brand refresh as well, and chose a quite similar path.
DFL and German design agency Mutabor began the process of revamping the logo more than a year and a half ago, removing the 3D gloss and sharpening the rounded edges. Additionally, the football player on the logo received a minor makeover. Now, the player is looking straight ahead rather than down at his knee, and the ball is part of the logo instead of halfway outside of the red borders.
“Moving the ball into the red field is essential to the logo, improving the overall symmetry of the 2D-cards. It’s a very subtle change, but for us it was really important that this little ball comes on to the red field and becomes an integral part of the logo,” said Thomas Markert, creative director at DFL Digital Sports. “Compared to other leagues, the Bundesliga took a different approach, focusing on football and the football player, while the club logos and their different colours have been embraced and displayed.”