German Football League (GFL) presents new brand image – design diary

The German Football League (GFL), founded in 1979, presented its new brand identity a few days ago. With the revision of the brand image, GFL wants to send another signal regarding the further development and expansion of the GFL brand, according to the official announcement.

The German Football League (GFL) is the first Bundesliga for American football for men in Germany. The matches in the amateur league are organized by the American Football Association Germany (AFVD). 500 clubs and about 72,000 members are organized throughout Germany through the respective state associations of the umbrella organization AFVD, which was founded in 1982.

American football is still considered a trending sport. According to DOSB data, the umbrella organization AFVD is one of the very few sports associations in Germany that has consistently gained new members in clubs for 10 years. Promoted by the hype that has existed for years, it was decided in 2020 to establish a new European league, the European League of Football (ELF). In German football, this has created a competitive situation between the GFL and the ELF. Because a large part of the teams represented in the ELF come from Germany. “The market is not big enough for two leagues of this kind, neither for spectators nor sponsors,” said Tilman Engel, manager at Frankfurt Galaxy from 1998 to 2007, criticizing the current situation.

GFL has now updated its branding and changed its league logo as part of this. “The old logo is just getting a little old,” said Axel Streich, communications manager on the board of the GFL League of Nations. “In the autumn of 2020, GFL embarked on a new path both organizationally and as a brand. This renewal must now also be reflected in our logo,” says Streich. For the first time in GFL’s history, there are now clear guidelines for media presence and the brand’s visual expression. Simultaneously with the transition to the modified logo, a similar GFL style guide (PDF, 2022) was published on the association’s website.

GFL logo – before and after, image source: GFL, image montage: German

The basic structure consisting of a rounded frame, a stylized football and the “GFL” abbreviation is retained. The football has been changed and the name is reset in a different font. The previous tri-color display was changed in favor of a two-tone dark blue / gray.

As stated in the press release, the goal was to remove artisanal weaknesses and create a fresh and modern design. They deliberately did not choose a completely new approach, but decided to further develop the previous logo.

In addition to the overall GFL logo and a logo version with a sponsor, logo variants were also made for the various leagues. The beverage brand SharkWater has been the name sponsor of GFL since 2021.

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Basically, it’s a good decision to further develop your own brand identity. Especially with regard to the newly created “league competition” in football, the GFL advises well to sharpen its profile. However, the profile sharpening does not go far enough for me.

In my opinion, the redesign should have been bolder, more progressive. The new corporate font VTF Redzone, where headlines will be set from now on, basically conveys “boldness” / strength. However, the blue-gray, almost monochrome color spectrum acts as a brake pad. What, in my opinion, is missing is an extra, highly accentuating color so that the GFL mark visually picks up speed and gains momentum, for example neon green in the style of the Seattle Seahawks. In any case, the overall impression is still conservative, despite new graphic elements.

Technical weaknesses can also be mentioned in the new logo. For example, the space between “G” and “F” is so small that when the display is small or seen from a distance, the letters merge into an unreadable, unsightly mass of letters. Otherwise, the long-distance effect of the logo is rather mediocre.

What applies in the sport can also be applied to brand management: after rebranding is before rebranding. For a design process is never finished. There are always only intermediate results that last for a certain period of time. In this regard, the GFL can already prepare for the next step: time with a new name sponsor. In a direct comparison, the EasyCredit BBL logo looks almost homogeneous.

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