An old logo gets relegated

New logos for the A-League, W-League and Y-League by Hulsbosch

A-League logo before and after
A-League logo before and after

The A-League is a professional men’s football league run by Football Federation Australia (FFA). At the top of the Australian league system, it is the country’s primary competition for the sport. The A-League was established in 2004 as a successor to the National Soccer League (NSL) and competition commenced in August 2005. The league is currently contested by ten teams; nine based in Australia and one based in New Zealand. It is known as the Hyundai A-League through a sponsorship arrangement with the Hyundai Motor Company.

Created by Hulsbosch following a 12-month consultation process with the football community and club leaders, the rebrand will be launched in all collateral, events, digital, sub brands and special programs in the lead-up to the opening season matches in October 2017. Here’s what Hulsbosch have to say about the project:

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 the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and Foxtel Y-League. 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.

The league’s inaugural logo by Coast Design Sydney featured eight “A” shapes symbolising the eight foundation clubs of the league. They were arranged in a ball shape with colours evoking the Australian sun and summertime competition. It’s an example of a gradient in a logo that adds meaning and enhances the underlying shape – the thing looks hot, the competition is hot, and, damn it, Australia is hot.

The typeface used for “A-League” (called, wait for it, Xyperformulaic) was just as quirky and custom-looking as the icon but didn’t compete with it. It had curves and cuts in unusual places – in fact, the kind of idiosyncrasies you’d see in a vehicle’s model badge. It’s oddly appropriate, given Hyundai’s sponsorship, and I can totally imagine the word in chrome, stuck on the back of a car. It was unique and certainly intriguing.

A-League logo detail
A-League logo detail
Stripped-down A-League logo
Basic A-League logo

The new logo retains the orange of the previous branding and also features a ball shape, but this time it’s comprised of three “ribbons” that represent each of those brand pillars – atmosphere, diversity and unity. It’s not something you can glean just by looking at it, but at least there’s meaning to it. The ribbons benefit from fancy 3D rendering and schmick lighting effects, and, I have to admit, it’s fun to ogle the details up close.

The sense of energy in the old logo remains mostly intact in the new, as the swooshiness of the ribbons conveys motion and dynamism. Something that does feel lost, though, is the sphericity of the overall shape. However, there’s still dimensionality to it and, really, it doesn’t have to look like a ball.

W-League logo before and after
W-League logo before and after
Y-League logo before and after
Y-League logo before and after

This is about three brands, right? Well, the Westfield W-League (the women’s league) and Foxtel Y-League (youth development and reserve league) have also been rebranded to align with the Hyundai A-League. It’s all part of FFA’s 20-year strategic plan to “make football the largest and most popular sport in Australia”.

There is nothing much to say about these logos – they now clearly belong to one family. The colours seem to have been matched to the sponsors’ own brand colours, although the Y-League is also orange as it traditionally feeds players to the A-League. Still, I would have liked to have seen that one in something different.

Basic W-League and Y-League logos
Basic W-League and Y-League logos

The typeface for the league titles is Gibson Bold, with a customised “G” and an “E” that’s been sheared to sit snugly against the “A”. Both edits, I suppose, intend to add edginess to the logo and perhaps make it a more ownable mark when divorced from the accompanying ribbon-ball. The edit to the “E”, though, feels somewhat contrived. I’m sure the designers were careful to avoid turning the “E” into an “F”, but it verges on becoming so and is an unnecessary effect.

Match ball
Match ball
App icon
App icon
Logo animation
Logo animation

Where things get really interesting for the rebrand is where the league logos assume colours of the individual clubs when they appear together. It’s a great move that makes for (slightly) more coherent team kits which can feature all sorts of visually discordant sponsor logos. It strengthens the identities of the individual clubs and demonstrates the A-League’s/FFA’s renewed support for them.

A-League logo in club colours
A-League logo in club colours
Team kits sporting new logos
Team kits sporting new logos
A-League logo in a stadium
A-League logo in a stadium

I praise FFA’s decision to consult with the public on this logo, and it’s not the first time they’ve reached out to the community to develop a brand. In 2012, after a three-month collaborative process with BMF and the Western Sydney football community, they unveiled the name, badge and colours of the newest team to join the competition, Western Sydney Wanderers FC. The process invited over 1,000 fans to several fan forums, and thousands more completed online surveys to help define the spirit and identity of their football club. It was a tremendous coup for not just football but Australian sport, and I hope other brands take note.

Overall, the new logo is a positive step forward. Including the other two leagues in the rebrand was an appropriate move and should hopefully elevate those in the public eye. The old logo could have stuck around for a while longer, but given that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the competition due to a new TV deal with a major free-to-air network, a facelift was a good move.

Go, Wanderers.

Early logo exploration; the "red" design was regarded as the most popular among focus groups
Early logo exploration; the “red” design was regarded as the most popular among focus groups

Related Links:

Hulsbosch, Soccer Bible