Premier League looks to shed ‘corporate’ image as it unveils new brand identity 

The Premier League has revamped its brand and visual identity in a bid to shed its corporate image and focus on the people behind the sport instead, as well as create a more attractive proposition to sell to sponsors.

The news comes seven months after the Premier League said it would drop its title sponsorship model for the 2016/2017 season. At the time, a Premier League spokesperson said it would “add a number of additional partnerships, while the clubs will continue to operate their own individual commercial models”.

The new identity, which was created in partnership with global agency DesignStudio and Robin Brand Consultants, includes a ‘modern take’ on the company’s lion icon and aims to work in digital and broadcast formats.

The Premier League’s new brand positioning, which will roll out in June, will also see the brand placed front and centre in its communications.

Richard Masters, managing director of the Premier League, explained at an event to unveil the new brand: “The competition next year will be simply called ‘Premier League’. This gave us an opportunity to review our visual identity and also to look at our brand positioning. The brief really was to look at a single unifying brand, and the organisation, and also a single unifying message, so selling what’s best on the pitch and off the pitch.”

Moving away from its corporate image

According to Masters, the Premier League’s previous image was too “corporate” and needed to focus more on its human side.

“Our current visual identity is very corporate, very blue and white like lots of other sports brands are. In terms of the [current] communication message it’s all about numbers – the amount of money we spent, the amount of pitches we built, rather than the people that play on them, the lives changed, the work that goes on off the pitch. So really it’s a fundamental shift,” he said.

“We are very pleased with the outcome: a visual identity which is relevant, modern and flexible that will help us celebrate everyone that makes the Premier League.”


Selling a more attractive proposition to brands

While the Premier League will no longer have a title sponsor, it will be appointing seven different brands as official sponsors. So far, Nike and EA Sports have signed up, with more to be announced within the next month. To implement this new commercial model within the Premier League, Masters told Marketing Week it has taken inspiration from American sports brands like the NBA and NFL.

“We have looked at lots of other sports and governing bodies to see how they do it. There is lots to learn from American sports [brands] in particular, which aren’t title sponsored and have brand and consumer expressions like the NBA,” he said.

According to Masters, the unified messaging will also present a more attractive proposition for brands.

“Now we’re selling an association with a story, and actually, it’s a more interesting conversation to have with partners,” he explained.

“What we’re looking for our partners to do is activate the new brand, the new platform, the new identity around the world as much as possible and to put the players and clubs out there.”

While Masters is unable to share the specific marketing plans to promote the new identity, its communications strategy should take shape in March after meeting with the clubs.

He concluded: “When that’s ready we can share more, but at the moment expect to see more marketing and more communications from the Premier League from June onwards in a different style that we’ve hinted at today.”


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