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05 October 2015

Blue is the colour, brand is the game: Brand consistency in the digital age


Football is an emotional game. While some may see it as just a sport, others (and that’s many) see it as an experience. The experience of belonging to a global family of fans that share the passion and love for the game, like you do. So of course, when English football club, Chelsea F.C., rebranded in 2005, it wasn’t something to be taken lightly.

From a branding perspective, the reigning champion’s marketing team not only faced the daunting task of conducting a smooth rebranding, but also needed to ensure a way of maintaining brand consistency. Changing the brand of a beloved football team is something that can make or break your fan base.

Brand at risk

With a fan base that exceeds the Fulham borders, large organisations like Chelsea F.C. face the challenge to maintain an up-to-date brand guidelines for everyone associated with the brand. Often circulated as PDFs, zip files and email attachments; brand guidelines, logos, images and content are stored across many businesses and organisations, working with or on the brand. Files like these are widely distributed, or given access, to anyone requiring guidance on how to work with the brand.

However, there are two major issues that arise using this method.

Firstly, if held in a document, brand guidelines are out of date almost as soon as they are produced. Somewhere something will change within the brand, perhaps a regional logo change or guidance on layout for specific channels or regions. With a brand valued at $795 million, ranking 5th globally, the last thing any marketing team wants is incorrect guidelines in circulation, leaving the brand exposed to the risk of being compromised.

Take Cardiff City, for example. With a plan to change their uniforms from blue to red, back in 2012, its brand change proposal was leaked before the logo was even finalised. As this was met with a huge amount of criticism by a number of supporters, Cardiff didn’t even have the chance to consider the new logo before making the final decision to keep their original colours.

Rules of the game

Secondly, unlike football, the rules of the game in branding are less rigid. Branding guidelines need to be online, dynamic and agile, in order to be successful. Online accessibility ensures that relevant information is available to the right people and provides direct access to any associated digital brand collateral, as the brand changes and evolves.

While football fans might be faced with a brand change of their favourite team, it doesn’t have to be painful. Maintaining brand consistency can be achieved early on through the use of top technology and personalisation that allows for customer insights, or in this case, fan insights. As someone who learned the hard way, take it from Cardiff Chief Executive, Alan Whiteley, when he says, “There is no getting away from the fact that history and traditions are the lifeblood of any club and as such should be jealously guarded and persevered.”

By Paul Rowley, Head of Sales at Bynder UK

More info can be found in the following whitepaper: How global brands power growth with branding automation


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