Project: Fremantle Dockers Football Club rebrand

AUTHOR:  
Published:  June 6, 2011
Nicki Wragg
Project: Fremantle Dockers Football Club rebrand

Studio: Block – blockbranding.com

If I have to confess to anything in my life, it is my indecision when it comes to barracking for one football team. I am a football swinger, dividing my loyalties between four teams. While I claim to understand football, the truth is my knowledge of the rules, player form and club history is sadly lacking. Despite this, the football ethos is etched into my psyche and, like many Australians, I find the energy and determination of the players, coupled with club colours, songs and heritage an electrifying experience.

The sense of history and long-standing values make for one of the biggest challenges for the younger teams in the AFL. How does a new interstate team position itself among other clubs that are over 100 years old? For some clubs, tradition has been imported from Victoria, in the case of the Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions. Other clubs, such as Port Adelaide, retained their heritage as they moved from the state league to the AFL. While there was a rich tradition of football in the west, in 1995 the Fremantle Dockers Football Club (FDFC) was new to the AFL and was considered the baby. Now in its second decade, the Dockers Football Club is coming of age and, as such, is consolidating its brand and redefining its heritage.

 

Original logo 1994-1996

Logo 1996-2010

Fremantle Dockers logo 2011

In 1995, the FDFC emerged with a colourful presence on the field. Its identity includes a collection of ideas: the working class ethos, the wharfies, maritime visual language, homage to West Australian football clubs and the Italian heritage of the migrants who settled in Fremantle. The original logo included a man holding an anchor, partially framed in a red and green shield. The three-colour insignia was complex and was further compromised due to a legal injunction by Levi Strauss & Co in 1996, forcing the FDFC to remove any reference to the ‘Dockers’.

The players’ guernseys included the white anchor, the red and green shield (that referenced port and starboard) on a purple jumper. Reproduction was challenging, merchandising lagged and it was the only team not to have won a premiership. For the FDFC, there was a need for a major overhaul, not just in the look and feel of the club, but also in mind and spirit. With new management, it embarked on redefining its brand with the intention of reclaiming the essence of Fremantle and shaping a new destiny.

On 1 October 2010, the Dockers unveiled its new identity, designed by Perth- based agency, Block. The project is fascinating, as it demonstrates the old adage ‘less is more’, but also reveals the power of the brand to shape tradition, capture the imagination, inspire and motivate. Mark Braddock, creative director at Block, says one of the challenges was to create a brand that was “old and new”: to capture the 100-year heritage of Fremantle’s first club and strip back the existing brand to a simple and  contemporary form.

The result of the 18-month project is a well-considered monogram that interweaves the letter ‘D’ with a stylised anchor in purple and white. Like most teams in the AFL, the monogram is not used on the guernseys. Block has adapted and repeated the V-shaped base of the anchor, reversed out of purple. The use of the V draws on the Fremantle football history, but with a minimal approach that emphasises the players’ physiques, like those of superheroes.

Another coup for the club was the reinstatement of ‘Fremantle Dockers’ as the rightful name after lengthy negotiations with Levi Strauss & Co. Almost in a celebratory tone, the ‘Dockers’ is emblazoned in bold industrial maritime lettering, communicating a departure from the past 15 years and heralding the arrival of the ‘Dockers’. The ideas of the original brand are ever-present in the new logo; however, the simplicity and sophistication of the logo connects us to the ‘Freo’ ethos, making the meaning more accessible.

Needless to say, rebranding a football club is a huge project with a broad range of stakeholders, who are generally very vocal. The initial research was undertaken by The Brand Agency, and included stakeholder engagement and market research. On receiving the project, Block conducted a visual audit, scrutinising football archives and history, competition and best practice in sports marketing. Although time-intensive, Braddock says the research was crucial in understanding the heritage, as well as perceptions of the stakeholders, players, members, supporters and fanatics. Through this investigation, Block simultaneously identified issues concerning the old logo and possible opportunities for the rebrand.

Within the study, it was found that purple was the preferred colour, as opposed to the red or green. It has come, over the past 15 years, to be seen as symbolic of Fremantle. Launched at the end of the 2010 season, the rebrand’s success cannot be fully evaluated yet, says Braddock; however, at this point membership is approximately 40,000 and merchandise sales have more than doubled compared with the same period in other years. Coupled with the Dockers’ performance in 2010 (finishing sixth on the ladder), members’ spirits are buoyed and they are looking forward to donning the new scarves and caps.

The simple monogram is a bold statement that celebrates the heritage of Fremantle

Fremantle Dockers branded cap

By interrogating the past and uniting the old with the new, Block has created new meaning in history and synthesised the club – one without a longstanding AFL tradition – more closely with an Australian football aesthetic that encompasses heritage, tradition, pride and determination. At the risk of sounding shallow, this rebrand has captured my imagination and is enough to swing my support to the west in 2011.

fremantlefc.com.au

From desktop magazine.

Images copyright Block and Fremantle Dockers.

4 Responses

  1. Pingback: Fremantle Dockers Football Club rebrand | Red Deer Creative | Ballarat | Graphic Design | Logo Design | Web Design

  2. Andrew Power

    I refute some of the comments made with regard to the re-branding of the Fremantle Football Club into the Fremantle Dockers Football Club.
    There is a culture about sport, football, AFL clubs and Fremantle in particular that you didn’t consider. More importantly, neither did the board at the FDFC.
    Your comment that “the stakeholders who are generally vocal” attribute consultation to the process undertaken by the Brand Agency. Their “survey” was vague and misleading and certainly didn’t engender the idea that wholesale changes were in the offering. If it had done so it may have had a different result.
    Further, considering the breakout year that 2010 was, would be more likely attributable to the increase in membership. The merchandise figures remain to be seen, unless you have data for FNB merchandise v the traditional merchandise. I know there was a rush on old merchandise before Christmas. Freo team stores were having a fire sale.

    There is one statistic that your report is accurate on, you appear shallow for deciding that a marketing spin exercise that drove a wedge amongst fans and supporters for dubious success, is a good reason for “jumping on board”.

    PS

  3. Andrew Power

    Check the Levis Strauss Dockers Logo and then comment on LS influence in the re-brand and if indeed it could be considered a win by the long-term fans and supporters who loved the logo colours song and culture that was the FFC.

  4. E DE FREITAS

    I’ve been a true loyal supporter of FREO since they joined the AFL.
    The problem i have with the club is inconsistency & by the history of the teams past performances over the years i for the life of me can’t see the club winning a PREMIERSHIP anytime soon. I’m 36yrs old & am starting to think that maybe i wont live to see the DOCKERS WIN THERE FIRST FLAG in my life time.
    I seriously hope i’m very wrong cos one flag in a life time is not a HUGE THING TO ASK of the club..
    Something has to change BIG TIME at the club from the very top all the way to the very bottom.
    Most people i speak to about the DOCKERS cant understand why anyone in there right mind would waste there time & life supporting them.
    So I ASK YOU (Fremantle Football Club) PULL YOUR FINGERS OUT & give US loyal true supporters that have been there since day one something to be a)Be proud to be a Fremantle supporter b) some ammunition to argue the point when others critisize the club c)Performances that’ll make us actually want to be a MEMBER of the club d)MOST OF ALL the club needs to recruit smartly, plan for the future of the club
    & STOP getting rid / letting good players go & then getting them back when there old HAS BEENS..

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