The Juventus rebrand – “change before you have to”

At the other half, we are often reflecting. We value opportunities to look back, in order to help understand where to go next.

Back in early 2017, Chris and I assessed the likely outcomes of the Juventus rebrand, which celebrates its third anniversary this month. He said it was fresh, bold, and ahead of its time, but I only recall thinking the change did not respect the heritage of the club. 

After all, at this point, my arguments against the decision to alter such an iconic club crest were also reflected by the widespread criticism from media and fans alike.

Now, in July 2020, it is about time I acknowledge… Chris was right.

TheBianconeri – the black-and-whites – were founded in 1897. Based in Turin, they have established themselves as one of the most famous and successful teams in world football. Juve’s total title haul is fast approaching the 70-mark, including silverware across country, continent, and the world.

In some ways, it’s a history that’s so good it deserves its own ‘please do not touch’ sign, safely encompassing the thrills and spills of past generations.

But, in hindsight, the forward-thinking club president Andrea Agnelli was actually doing just that, protecting a glorious past and using it to inspire the future.

“Change before you have to,” he told the cognoscenti at the brand launch – the motto spearheading several key factors that elicited the success of the modern Juve identity.

A brand without values is like a house without a foundation 

Juventus has turned itself into an icon aiming to appeal to football fans across the globe, whilst aspiring for world-class commercial performance in a rapidly changing environment; all of which reflects the club’s philosophy to always strive for excellence.

The power of choice can be overbearing in rebranding decisions, but by focusing on such core values that had been part of the established brand for over a century, the club put a constraint on creativity that ultimately improved the brand’s success, as well as making a vehicle that carried those traditional values into a 21st-century environment.

There’s beauty in simplicity 

In an age of increasing complexity where sometimes you don’t know where to look, simplicity stands out. We are seeing brands foster simple logos that give a stronger, clearer brand identity; finding the more, in the less.

Through its design, the new logo is an example of the modern-day multi-purpose crest, far beyond the somewhat over-embellished football badges of old, and is the sum of different elements characterising Juventus.

The outline of an Italian scudetto; the black and white stripes from the Juve origins as ‘The Old Lady’; and the letter “J” that now means Juventus to everyone, together form a logo that represents a step forward.

Gaining stakeholder buy-in 

Juventus thought about the ‘who’ as well as the ‘what’, strategically planting attendees at its events. Influential players, for example, came to the launch celebrations showing a strong support for the rebrand.

Just by being there, the players could immediately soften some of the negativity around the rebrand from followers, showing how endorsement from well-known and respected ambassadors can, in many ways, legitimise the change.

Be disruptive and build for a new world

Disruption is all about taking risks, deviating from the conventional marketing rules.

Good disruptive marketing can shake things up by changing customer perceptions about, not just the company, but the industry as a whole. In this case, Juve came out looking like leaders in the football world.

This is also because the identity has thrived across the touchpoints of tomorrow, be they digital, spatial, physical, virtual, or augmented. This sets the brand up for the new age of social media and positions Juventus as more than a football club, but a lifestyle brand.

Evaluation

In our eyes, the rebranding of Juventus has been a monumental success, capitalising on an opportunity for change through catalysing the Bianconeri’s transformation from a club to a worldwide culture.

By looking back at the foundations of their history, the future of Juventus is a little less of a mystery.