Roller Derby - Branding - The Logo

Having recently seen a post on branding and roller derby I thought I'd put together a series of posts to cover branding as they have not seemed satisfactory. I decided to break them down in to a series of posts as it is a complex subject, far greater than the team's logo. I do more than photography although this may be a red wine induced ramble.

But first, let's tackle the logo. I'm not going to tell you how you should design. Rather how I would approach it.

Logos range from good to bad for a myriad of reasons but none constitute a brand.

Personally, from experience I prefer a one colour logo. It gives you greater scope and consistency on products. Look at all major brands and most logos are one or two colours. There are good reasons for this, however most are historical. When reproducing a logo it used to be easier to reproduce it in one colour to match an exact Pantone reference. As technology moved on and printing in full colour (CMYK) became cheaper than mono with a spot, it became less important that a logo had a simple colour palette. With the rise of the web it became more important that it could be reproduced large as well as small and still remain legible. However, the fewer colours, the easier this task is. 

I have examples of how this process can go wrong. Trust me, I've learnt from experience and numerous mistakes. Email me and I will confess all.

Look at dominant brands in the high street. Those developed before the web are significantly simpler than those developed for purely web based companies. Technology has driven design.

There are leagues whose logos I like, there are those I like due to their design principles, there are those I like for both reasons. I disliked the Olympic 2012 logo, but understood why it was designed that way and how it worked. I can understand and admire things for their execution, and those for their aesthetics. These two things are different. One from a professional, one from a personal viewpoint and when viewing any designs for approval it is important to separate these two feelings.

The question is, can a well designed logo sum up a Roller Derby league? Does such a corporate response sum up the sport? I would argue yes and no. A logo created on good design principles can define a league, but it can also make the league look too corporate unless it is executed well.  Logos can be tweaked, designs changed to suit a greater range of applications but this all subordinate to 'The Brand'. Most teams don't have access to branding professionals and so I would stick to who you are, your    innate beliefs will probably allow to hit your market better. A re-brand is only necessary when you wish to change your market. 

The brand sums up the component parts of an organisation, and who it perceives or wants to be its customers. If you wish to attract middle to upper class spectators the 'Brand' as well as the logo would be significantly different to those that may be chosen by league members. This would, I assume, create a conflict of interest as most leagues I know are set up by skaters, for skaters. 

Who you are and who you want to attract to your bouts define the brand. Logos and design are secondary and come from this need. 

Roller Derby will develop organically, with bursts of development then a lull. This is to be expected. The question is, how much should this be forced, and by forcing the issue will it lose it's grass roots appeal? Sometimes it'll need forcing, sometimes not, but it is important to keep an eye on the issues so that it is not driven down an avenue where the power is taken away from the league. Sponsorship can be a thorny issue depending on the demand of the sponsor. 

In the next post/ramble I'll look at brand positioning and methods to achieve this at minimal cost. To be honest most leagues probably do this already but do not define the activities as 'Branding'. When you do, you may feel more confident that you are doing things right already.


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