This game is unlimited
Building on their 20-year strategic plan to make football the largest and most popular sport in Australia, The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) approached Hulsbosch to reposition and rebrand the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and the Foxtel Y-League. Key challenges included the need to positively differentiate football from the other Australian sporting codes, grow awareness amongst the general population and allow the existing club brands to shine.
The modernised football icon is inspired by football's three points of difference - atmosphere, diversity and unity. These differentiators create a platform to drive growth across all the codes. The unique identity delivers a clarified visual language and architecture that seamlessly integrates the competitions and will enable the game to create a stronger footprint in Australia. And, for the first time in Australian sport, the identity assumes the colours of clubs within all club communications, bringing the league and clubs under the one unified banner.
Marketing Magazine 2012
Ranked top 5 best Australian logo of all time
Brand Finance Institute 2011
Voted Australia’s most valuable brand
Mobius Award 2009
Outstanding Creativity – Corporate Identity
Ranked as of the top 5 rebrands of 2008/09
Robert Squillacioti, Former Head of Marketing, Digital and Fan Engagement
Football Federation Australia
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
Call it soccer, call it football, either way, what we are talking about is the ‘beautiful game’. With an estimated 240 million people worldwide playing football regularly and many more spectators who might also engage in a friendly kick-off at the local park, the beautiful game has evolved from the sport of kicking a rudimentary animal-hide ball, into the World Cup sport it is today. It is all about the goals, entertainment and the social function it affords its patrons. For some, football forms a cultural connection – one born of political and sporting loyalty and geographic allegiance. For others, football is sport’s blend of puzzle and science – a contest pitting time against space, against movement1.
Records trace the history of football back to ancient China more than 2,000 years ago. Greece, Rome, and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport and it was a regular feature in Western Europe from the middle ages onwards. Sometimes competition grew fierce and masses got so wild that there were frequent incidents of violence during the game. There are reports soldiers admired the game so much that they ended up missing their archery practices2. It became of such concern to King Edward III, that he banned football in 1365. And King James I of Scotland was recorded in Parliament in 1424 as saying “Na man play at the Fute-ball” (No man shall play football)3.
But football thrived and it was in England in 1863, that the game transitioned into the football we know today4. Its popularity spread rapidly during the 19th and 20th century when European sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe, taking it as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Football has been a club game in Australia for over 130 years. Initially certain migrant communities based around specific industries like coal mining, created strong football cultures in regions such as the Illawarra, the Hunter and Ipswich. Football legend Johnny Warren encapsulated this history in his autobiography ‘Sheila’s, Wogs and Poofters’ when he wrote: ‘football was seen as a foreign game, not one for “real” Australian men’5. Considering this, it is great to see football rise above ethnic divisions so that a national league could flourish and an Australian team qualify for the World Cup finals. Football is now the number one club-based sport in Australia with seven million fans and over two million participants across three leagues6.
Previous brandmark, 2004 – 2016
Australia’s international football icon and Socceroos striker
In 2015 the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) announced their 20-year vision in the ‘Whole Football Plan’ with the express goal for football to become Australia’s largest and most popular sport. An ambitious proposal setting out several key initiatives, for the first two years, became the basis of a well informed strategic plan. The first initiative was to refresh the A-League brand and connect more fans to the competition as viewers, members, ticket buyers and consumers of digital content. The A-league (or the “Hyundai A-League” as it is officially known) was established in 2005. It is the most supported league and grew so fast that it needed to recalibrate its growth strategy with a calculated decision to focus on family audiences. FFA CEO David Gallop was looking for a repositioning that would strategically elevate football’s leadership position so the plan was to look way beyond the actual league. He and FFA Chairman Steven Lowy needed a brand and visual identity that cohesively tied its professional leagues together and could be implemented across a range of platforms: packaging, broadcast, digital and gameplay. That connectivity is really important to the future of football in Australia7. In other words they were looking at rebranding and repositioning the whole football code in Australia.
This required a redefinition of the brand strategy and the look and feel across all three leagues: the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and Foxtel National Youth League (or Y-League). Considered pivotal to the long-term growth of all three leagues in Australian football8, FFA’s brands needed clarity and strength in the market to align with the ultimate objective of audience growth and broadening the fan base across their entire suite of products9.
Robert Squillacioti, Former Head of Marketing, Digital and Fan Engagement
Football Federation Australia
Needless to say the Hulsbosch team was excited when they were appointed to redesign the brand platform. Hans was particularly thrilled because as a young boy growing up in The Netherlands he was introduced to football by his uncle Rinus Michels and spent many years following him around the European football pitches. Rinus Michels was a Dutch football coach who laid the foundations of what became known as ‘total football’. Its underlying philosophy was one of complete versatility10. Michels was a giant in the sport and is lauded as the most influential coach in Dutch football; in 1999 he was named ‘coach of the century’ by FIFA11.
For the Hulsbosch team it was ‘game on’. Extensive research clearly identified three areas that differentiates football in Australia, compared with other sports; its atmospheric, diverse and it unites.
It’s very atmospheric for the audience attending matches; it is highly entertaining, fun for the entire family, audiences are tribal when they are harking for their teams. Looking across the stands it’s a colourful spectacle with an atmosphere that can be truly electric. On the field the players are skilful and graceful, even the renowned Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, an avid football fan, labelled football ‘the ballet of the masses’12.
Football in Australia has really grown up and has moved from European migrant communities right across society. The game is diverse and inclusive of all ages and all backgrounds. Its non-gendered, in fact the women’s league is attracting about 400,000 active participants and since 2015 soccer has overtaken netball with girls aged 6-1313.
Football unites, it is the only truly global game. It connects people on the field as well as in the stands and as a universal sport it connects Australians with the rest of the world.
The FFA Strategic Plan set out the key initiatives for the rebrand and from there the brand values were extracted: To lead purposefully and connect with a broader public whilst improving the experience for all participants and actively build future generations of successful national teams. These inspiring principles underpinned the brand essence that football is an unlimited game for all14.
The strategic design process required all the athleticism, technical skills, IQ and talent that is normally reserved for the football pitch. The fact that the league identity needed to be a ‘container brand’ that underpins and supports every single club meant that all football clubs had to come on the brand-repositioning journey. It was an interesting proposition and subsequent stakeholder management was unlike anything else Hulsbosch had ever encountered. The Hulsbosch team set out to completely revamp the look of the Hyundai A-League with new logos and a fresh approach to its branding that incorporated club colours for the very first time.
The FFA was very determined that the rebranding was not about the design or look and feel, it was about what they represent15. It was Hans’ grounding and deep understanding of ‘complete versatility’, learned at the feet of Uncle Rinus Michels, that formed the basis of the Hulsbosch team’s approach when they rebranded the FFA. Inspired by the flowing movement of the game and the gracious ballet of the football players Hulsbosch designed a modernised football icon that positioned itself at the centre of all three leagues anchoring football’s three points of difference: atmosphere, diversity and unity. The mark represents a football and within it the letter ‘A’ that signifies; the ‘a’ in A-league, the ‘a’ in Australia, the ‘a’ in all-inclusive and the ‘a’ in football. Orange continued to be the colour used for the primary version of the A-League, W-League and Y-League logo honouring the original brand created for the launch of the league in 2005.
‘The new league identity is extremely versatile and is unique for sports branding in Australia. For the first time, each individual club can utilise the logo across a range of platforms from packaging, broadcast and digital to game day promotions and their playing strip, in their own exclusive colours. The identity is fluid and is designed in such a way that, when implemented correctly, neither the code, nor each club loses its brand integrity’16. Subsequently, logo reiterations have been adopted by more than 100 football clubs across Australia.
‘The unique identity is also a tribute to the passionate football fan. It delivers a clarified visual language that is energetic and positive for a stronger football footprint in Australia. It reflects the games’ energy and diversity; and heroes its colourful and passionate atmosphere at the stadiums’17.
and Fan Engagement, Football Federation Australia, 2017 The brand design claims leadership position, celebrates the uniqueness of what football offers and demonstrates unity which is at the heart of Australian football. It appeals to a younger and much broader target audience without alienating hardcore fans. It is as Tim Cahill, Socceroo suggests: ‘A lot of vision is shown in the new design’18. Early brand adoption has already attracted strong interest for new and renewed membership to football clubs for the 2017/18 seasons. In addition it has supported and leveraged negotiations for a new deal with an Australian free-to-air channel to broadcast the A-League competition and an extensive PR campaign contributing to increased brand awareness.
The Hulsbosch team scored a resounding goal when they won the 2017 Silver Sydney Design Award (Identity and Branding)19. As FFA chief executive David Gallop said: ‘The work we have done with Hulsbosch gives us a strong brand platform, demonstrating the unity at the heart of Australian football’ 20.
1. Townsend, J. (2016). Rinus Michels and the Total Football rebellion. These Football Times. Retrieved from http://thesefootballtimes.co/2016/01/28/rinus-michels-and-the-total-football-rebellion/ 2. History of Soccer. (n/d). The History of Soccer. Retrieved from http://www.historyofsoccer.info/ 3. FIFA. (n/d). History of Football - The Origins. Retrieved from http://www.fifa.com/about-fifa/who-we-are/the-game/index.html 4. AthNet. (2017). The History of Soccer. Retrieved from http://www.athleticscholarships.net/history-of-soccer-football.htm 5. Johnny Warren quoted in Syson, I. (2011). The genesis of soccer in Australia The Conversation: Academic rigour, journalistic flair. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/the-genesis-of-soccer-in-australia-2466 6. Gallop, D. (2017). [Football Federation Australia rebrand]. 7. Gallop, D. (2017). [Football Federation Australia rebrand]. 8. FFA. (2017). 2016 Annual Review Football Federation Australia. Football Federation Australia. 9 Squillacioti, R. (2017). [Rebranding the FFA]. 10. Townsend, J. (2016). Rinus Michels and the Total Football rebellion. These Football Times. Retrieved from http://thesefootballtimes.co/2016/01/28/rinus-michels-and-the-total-football-rebellion/ 11. Glanville, B. (2005). Rinus Michels: Renowned Dutch soccer coach whose ‘total football’ concept took his team to victory. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/mar/04/guardianobituaries.football 12. Ilichova, M. (2008). Shostakovich’s ballets The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 13. Roy Morgan Research. (2015). More girls now playing soccer than netball [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6563-more-girls-now-playing-soccer-than-netball-201511240022 14. Hulsbosch. (2017). FFA Strategic Brand Guidelines. Hulsbosch PTY LTD 15. Squillacioti, R. (2017) Repositioning Football: Diversity and Connection for The Global Game /Interviewer: T. Addington. Mumbrella360 Marketing and Media Conference. 16. `, H. (2017). [Rebranding the FFA]. 17. Hulsbosch. (2017). FFA Strategic Brand Guidelines. Retrieved from Hulsbosch PTY LTD 18. Cahill, T. (2017). [FFA Rebrand] 19. Drivenxdesign. (2017). Repositioning and Rebranding Football in Australia: Football Federation. 2017 Sydney Design Awards. Retrieved from https://drivenxdesign.com/SYD17/project.asp?ID=15592 20. FFA CEO David Gallop quoted in Nicholson, P. (2017). New season new look. Aussies rebrand A-League and bring W-League centerstage. Inside World Football. Retrieved from http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/01/26/new-season-new-look-aussies-rebrand-league-bring-w-league-centerstage/
“Football has recently been confirmed as the number one club-based participation sport in Australia and we’ve just signed a new six year broadcast deal so it’s a great time to reveal a new brand for our leagues. The work we have done with Hulsbosch gives us a strong brand platform demonstrating the unity at the heart of Australian football.”
David Gallop, CEO
Football Federation Australia
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