Creating a powerful brand

26th May 2017

Creating a powerful brand

After the success of the recent Logo Wars competition, which saw New Forest Volleyball emerge from a hard-fought contest to gain the accolade of the best logo in the country, we wanted to dig a little deeper into the stories behind some of the leading logos.

So, we spoke to six of the clubs who entered their competition, posing a handful of questions to James Kemp (JK) of New Forest, Graeme Sawyer (GS) of Weymouth, Rob Davaston (RD) of Newmarket, Matt Hallworth (MH) of Balham Bears, Kara Griffiths (KG) of Tamworth Spartans and Jason Brinck (JB) of Yeovil. This is what they had to say. 

What’s the story behind your club logo – i.e. how long have you had it, who created it, how did it come about, what was the thinking behind it?

JK: The logo for NFV has evolved over nine years in an attempt to improve the brand identity of our club. For its most recent iteration, we enlisted the help of a talented local artist (Spacagna Art) who drew it freehand. We liked the idea of using a volleyball being pierced by the antlers of the stag, with a slight menacing look.

Once drawn, it was digitally converted, enhanced and made more 3-D by PixelJuice, my own graphic design business. We’ve since gone on to create a number of different versions of the logo so we can use it on clothing, stationery, marketing and advertising products. We're very proud of our logo and club brand!

GS: The Weymouth logo has been in existence in various forms for the last ten years and was originally designed by a friend of my son. It was then updated and modified in 2016. This was needed because the design of the beach volleyball had changed and the skyline of Weymouth was also different – so we added in Weymouth Tower.

When we decided we needed a logo, we thought that there were key things which needed to be integral to the logo. Firstly, it had to be readily identifiable as a volleyball club and, in our case, a beach volleyball club.  Secondly, we felt there needed to be something to make a definite link with Weymouth, hence the Weymouth bay skyline. We also had seen a lot of logos with someone hitting a ball over the net and felt we needed to avoid this cliché.

KG: We re-branded our club about five years ago, just after the London Olympics, when excitement was high about minority sports and lots of people new to volleyball were getting in touch. We wanted an identity which everyone could get behind, and feel as though they really were part of something - and the Spartans myths resonated with us. Of course, as well as being bold and fearless, there's a huge amount of fun to be had with the brand as well.

The logo was central to this - we wanted something which stood out from the crowd but was easy to replicate. Something which looked good on our kit and merchandise - and latterly on the huge banners which adorn the walls of our venues. We wanted to move away from the ball and net which we had previously, although keeping a circular shape was important to us to reflect the ball, without actually using one.

JB: We've had our logo since 2003. It was created by one of our club members whose day job was generating marketing info, posters etc. We were trying to grow the club which included creating a website and making some club t-shirts and team strips. All of these things were helped with a common club logo. There wasn't really any thinking behind it, other than we wanted something that looked good; which was tricky when we didn't have any artists in the club and no budget to pay for anything.

MH: There’s not much to it really - it's a bear and we are Balham Bears! Our previous logos were all fairly basic, so I took it upon myself to start a bit of club branding in hope of building the club - and as a consequence, we did: from one men’s team, to a men’s and women’s team, to two men’s teams and a women’s team in the space of two years. 

Volleyball England: While James at New Forest and Matt at Balham are both professional graphic designers (and Tamworth used a professional to create their design as well), there is another way, according to Rob….

RD: The story is we had an average design made by one of us years ago in Microsoft Word, so we then got one done…. by my Aunty Tracey. I spoke to her about the club and our heritage and she created several. The club’s committee then decided on their favourite version!

How important is your logo to your club?

GS: Ever since we have had the logo, it has been a talking point, with views very split on the seagull! However, it seems to me that a logo which generates discussion and interest is doing its job.

JB: I think the club logo is important to the club as it helps the players and members unite behind the club and gives them a way to show that support by buying and wearing branded goods.

JK: Our logo is our brand and so it's very important to us. We'd like to think that our logo is instantly synonymous with New Forest Volleyball - particularly within the volleyball community. The stag features on all our club apparel, website and marketing materials. What we were keen to do was to ensure not only do we have a fantastic logo but have a professional looking brand. I believe that a poorly produced logo screams 'amateur' and potential new members or sponsors may overlook your club.

Club colours, fonts, logo variations, headings, social media profile/cover photos...everything matches our original branding ideas. Many other clubs have credited us on our branding and have sought our advice on how to grow theirs likewise, which has been really reassuring that what we've produced is good quality.

KG: It’s hugely important; it's so distinctive and runs through everything we produce. The bold red, yellow and black are our kit colours and both warm-up shirts and team shirts have the huge Spartans emblem on the fronts - there's no getting away from it! We also had a mini Spartan created, who serves as the face of our junior academy, as we wanted to make sure that the logo was for the entire club, from youngest to oldest, from most experienced to complete novice. The fact that it's so distinctive is a real selling point. No one has shirts like ours because no one has a logo like ours!

MH: The logo is huge; it's a massive part of our social media presence and overall identity. 

RD: We love our logo! It is on all the gear; bags training tops, playing kit and on Twitter!

What advice would you give to any club thinking of creating a new logo?

RD: Get it done professionally. Perhaps get them to do three or four and then choose from that selection.

JK: When it comes to branding, the right logo helps carve out a carefully crafted identity. Your final design(s) should ideally be created by a graphic designer who uses professional industry standard software to ensure it retains its quality when used digitally and for print. Try to be original in your design; personal to the club. The correct use of tone, colour and fonts will all have a dramatic effect on how your logo (and club) is perceived.

MH: Use a professional graphic designer (there are a few of us around!). I’ve been fortunate enough to recently redesign the London Volleyball Association logo, as well as our new identity for the 2017-18 season, which is remaining under wraps for now...

KG: Be brave! Remember that not all football clubs have footballs in their logos, so don't stay tied to volleyball-specific imagery. Your club's identity is what makes you unique so use it to give you a visual identity you can leverage as well. Make it easy to replicate. The great success of ours has come about because it works equally well in all formats - on the screen, on the page, on a shirt - and any size - from our Twitter page to our giant banners.

JB: Go for it; nothing but good has come from creating ours.

Any comments on the Logo Wars competition and the logos it showcased?

JK: The competition was superb publicity for VE and also the clubs taking part. The number of impressions and engagements on our Twitter went from an average of 500 (NVL Weekend) to 2700 (Logo Wars Semi and Final)! We also gained new followers - some from oversees including professional players & coaches! What was great was how the competition not only brought our own club together, but inter-club relationships too. The banter between clubs, accompanied by some hilarious memes. made the competition very enjoyable throughout.

KG: Logo Wars was a great way of enabling clubs to shout about things that are really special to them. We all love volleyball - and it was great to be able to really articulate and shout about what we love about our specific clubs as well, beyond the sport itself. What was really great was the diversity of logos: some used their names, others their location. Some did have balls or nets, and others stayed well away from those images. It was fabulous to see so much creative thinking on show, and so much pride in people's clubs. It was also a really great opportunity to go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys of the NVL and for smaller clubs to have their moment in the spotlight too.

JB: I think the competition was influenced by the number of followers the various clubs had, especially in the initial rounds, but no surprise there. Later on, I think clubs that were knocked out may have looked more at the actual design, I know we did. The number of clubs that entered the competition was a bit of a surprise as I thought more would have entered. Perhaps, there are plenty of clubs who aren’t very proud of their logo? Maybe like us they struggle to find arty people in their clubs and can't afford a semi-professional design?

GS: We thought Logo Wars was a great idea from the start, having seen the success of Richard Osman's biscuit and crisp World Cups (the original idea on which the competition was based). It has definitely raised the profile of the club and as a result we have gained many new Twitter followers. It was a good morale boosting club activity and it was great to see other Weymouth organisations – such as the football club, cricket club, local radio and newspaper – getting involved and showing their support. To be fair, we loved the New Forest logo and we were very pleased to be runners-up to it.

MH: A great idea, and fantastic way to increase interaction with VE and Twitter. From a design perspective, some the logos were in need of a little refresh (including ours, I might add!). I think that to grow the sport in England, we need to start working on our teams’ social media presences and a lot of that is linked to having a professional logo.

RD: We loved it, rallying our social media contacts to vote. Yes, at times it was more of a popularity contest but it still got people talking and tweeting, so - all in all - a good thing!

Creating a powerful brand