Leagues / Sponsorship


The Premier League

Author Cameron Russo, University of San Francisco

Posted: April 25, 2016

Tagged: Brand identity

A managerial focus on brand equity is critical when undertaking successful brand design in sport. In any sporting event, “there are multiple examples of design’s influence on the perceptions, recollection, and satisfaction of product and service experiences” (Malkewitz & Bee, 2014, p. 89). Successful brands evolve over time to meet perceptions formed in the mind of consumers. In the case of the English Premier League, a brand may require re-positioning in an attempt to position the brand in a different manner. The English Premier League unveiled a new logo that will be used for next season, as it moves away from title sponsorship and the competition will be known simply as the Premier League.

When it comes to brand design “a multitude of principles influence the ability of a fan to perceive and remember brand artifacts, leading to brand preference” (Malkewitz & Bee, 2014, p. 93). The Premier League’s new logo is a “bold and vibrant identity that includes a modern take on the lion icon — a symbol that is part of the competition’s heritage” (Reynolds, 2016, para. 1). The revamped logo delivers in iconic representation, maintaining a symbol that is widely understood amongst the league’s fans. The logo’s new look contains the perceptual elements of figure/ground relationship and color, highlighting and attracting desired attention to the crowned lion figure. The bright background colors make the figure stand out and the simpler, more colorful design “is supposed to make the brand more functional and attractive on smartphone apps and social media platforms” (Reynolds, 2016, para. 1). The implementation of several perceptual design principles in the logo creates visual fluency across all the leagues teams and digital and broadcast markets.

Developing a brand identity is important in a sport setting and next year “we will be known simply as the Premier League, a decision which provided the opportunity to consider how we wanted to present ourselves as an organization and competition” (Reynolds, 2016, para. 2). A shorter, more tangible name can convey the league’s top tier competition and also “support the use of a concrete symbol, such as a lion, a wizard, or a bear” (Dalakas & Rose, 2014, p. 112). Typically, teams tend to be relatively conservative with logo changes not to compromise tradition. There had been some concern that the crowned lion would be dropped from the brand but the company responsible for the new identity says, “it was keen to maintain the animal that adorned League branding since’92” (Reynolds, 2016, para. 2).

The Premier League’s long-term branding strategy “accompanies an upcoming drive to reposition the leagues identity by putting players’ and fans’ own stories at the forefront” (Reynolds, 2016, para. 2). The new look logo has been well received by teams but “has come under fire from a number of fans on Twitter”(Reynolds, 2016, para. 2). One of the primary drivers of brand equity is brand image that can be thought of as the “strength, uniqueness, and favorability of the associations with the brand” (Gladden, 2014, p. 5). The Premier League’s name and logo change is distinctive, unambiguous and consistently positioned to become a recognized symbol and identity of the new league.



Dalakas, V., & Rose, G. (2014). Developing brand identity in sport: Lions, and tigers, and bears oh my. In M. P. Prichard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 89-108). New York, NY: Routledge.

Gladden, J. (2014). Brand equity: Management and measurement in sport. In M. P. Prichard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 3-20). New York, NY: Routledge.

Malkewitz, K., & Bee, C. (2014). Undertaking successful brand design in sport. In M. P. Prichard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 89-108). New York, NY: Routledge.

Reynolds, J. (2016). Premier league unveils new logo, waves goodbye to barclays. SportsBusiness Journal, 4(168) Retrieved from www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

About Cameron Russo, University of San Francisco

Cameron currently interns for the Mercury News in San Jose, California and also serves as the Sport Management Program’s Feature Writer at USF. Graduating from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management, he is looking to further his skill set and experience in the media relations space. One of Cameron’s favorite accomplishments is contributing to the Super Bowl 50 special edition sports section at the Mercury News. You can connect with Cameron on Twitter (@cameronrusso3) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/cameronrusso/). This article is an edited version of a paper Cameron prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Ben Sutherland, "Fernando Torres taking on the Leicester defence", www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland. Accessed via Creative Commons license.