What do FC Barcelona and Cardiff City have in common? The perils of a rebrand
24 February 2015 by Ashton Carter
After months of rumour and speculation, it has recently been announced that the iconic footballing institution of FC Barcelona, is as of next season, to change the iconic home shirt from its traditional stripes pattern, to hoops.
To the untrained eye and many non-Catalans, such a change from vertical stripes to horizontal, may not be seen as massive shift in brand. However, to all associated with the club, including its legions of supporters around the world, this change is a huge unpicking of the clubs identity, reputation and persona.
The Barcelona shirt is a beacon for the club, demonstrating its passion to always progress (as implied by the vertical stripes demonstrating progress by their upward movement). The shirt was famously the first in Europe not to bear a sponsor and then, to have the ‘Unicef’ logo emblazoned upon it without any form of royalty being paid to the club.
Therefore, it is seen by many inside Catalonia, that changing the shirt design to horizontal stripes indicates complacency with their current position. Such complacency is not the ‘Barcelona-way’ and has caused uproar amongst its fans who always want to see the club strive for the upper echelons of the modern game.
However, for those within Barcelona, the diversification of the club’s shirt is a change born purely out of the desire to revitalise the clubs image and strip. There is a growing feeling that, given the limited variations on a vertical stripe shirt with two colours, that fans are less likely to wish to purchase updated kits each season, thus disadvantaging the club in terms of merchandising revenue.
Furthermore, releasing a radically different kit will also spike demand for the shirt outside of Spain, with a huge amount of Barcelona fans being located overseas. Again this will all contribute to revenue and income generated from fans purchasing this new kit. Being that it is markedly different from the previous instalments, it is hoped that this will prompt fans into purchasing it, as all aspiring footballers and fans strive to have ‘the latest and greatest kit’.
From a neutral perspective, the change seems to make commercial sense too.
Already people are talking about the change, with the ancient adage being that ‘any publicity is good publicity’. In addition, the pressures upon fans, especially young fans, to have the latest kit makes releasing one that is markedly different, again a financially sound decision.
Historical Barcelona kits have all been increasingly similar, resulting in the scenario whereby if you own a Barcelona kit, as they are all so similar, you will rarely need to purchase the latest version. The hoops on the other hand will piqué interest in the new kit and will help generate merchandising revenue by way of increased sales.
Of course, there is the risk that the new kit design is so radical, so as to be distasteful, resulting in a lower demand for the new strip than anticipated. We therefore await the launch of the new kit with baited breath, to see just how people respond to it and in a nutshell, whether people actually like it.
This instance is not the only example of re-branding within the football sector.
Cardiff City have, several seasons ago, come under new ownership from the Far East, as a result of which, their strip was changed from its traditional blue, to red and its badge from sporting its traditional bluebird to a dragon – seen as a lucky symbol and red as a lucky colour, in the country from which the new owner hails.
However, increasing fan displeasure to the rebrand has recently seen Cardiff City return to its traditional blue home shirt, with the revised red kit remaining as its away strip. In addition, the club badge will be revised to provide more prominence to the traditional bluebird, whilst keeping the newly-installed dragon.
This is demonstration that re-branding does not always work and sometimes, it is best to solidify and build upon an already established brand and reputation.
As a result, it remains to be seen how the Barcelona kit-change will be received.
It certainly makes commercial and financial sense for the change in shirt design, however, such positives may not outweigh fan objection or distaste for what is seen as a radical shift in the clubs traditions and persona – After all the move may make perfect economical sense, but at what cost to the traditions and values held in such high regard at the club: Are they selling their footballing soul to make economic progress?
What is certain is that the rebrand is causing headlines and putting Barcelona in the spotlight again. It is one of the world’s biggest and richest clubs and has recently been in the headlines as a result of a transfer ban imposed last season.
After those issues, the change in shirt branding may be the Catalan club President’s way of leaving such troubled past behind.
We here at Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors have a specialist Corporate Commercial Department, able to assist you with any rebrand or restructure you may be contemplating, including the provision of bespoke Intellectual Property advice regarding your brand or business. Should you require any legal advice or assistance with a rebrand of any kind, or in relation to any intellectual property of your business, please contact our commercial team on 01245 584515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.