Branding a Sport?

By Mash Bonigala

When you think of popular sporting activities in the UK, you probably think of football first. Fencing probably does not make your short list, or even your long one. Part of this lack of popularity is probably due to the fact that most of us are not thrilled with the idea of being stabbed with a sword, but part is due to a lack of branding and marketing. Fencing is seen by many people in the UK as a somewhat stuffy, elite activity that is best suited to medieval aristocrats.

How important is marketing to sports? Consider the sport of football. You see logos and other marketing designs everywhere in the UK; not only do people watch the sport itself, they wear team jerseys and buy products with their favourite logo displayed on them. Now, the sport of fencing wants to get in on the marketing action. British Fencing, an organization that supports the sport, recently adopted a new logo design that will be the basis for a UK brand promoting the activity.

The logo design is meant to appeal to a wide audience, from younger teens through elderly people and people who are completely new to fencing as well as experienced veterans. This is a very broad audience, perhaps an impossibly large one. The timing of this new logo design is not coincidental; the organization hopes that seeing fencing in the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games will inspire many people in the UK to give it a try.

The new logo design is a clean green colour, which feels both natural and safe. The name of the organization is written in bold, upper case lettering with pointed edges that refer to the sport. However, the letters are somewhat rounded, which gives a friendly feeling. A slash between the two words is in the shape of a fencing sword.

There is one key problem with this logo design, and that is the word ‘fence’. This is somewhat unavoidable, but the word ‘fence’ can mean a variety of things, including the wooden structure that is built around a garden. The colours and shapes in this UK logo seem to point more to a company building actual fences than a sport with the same name.

There are a few ways that this could have been avoided. The logo could feature a strapline that makes it clear that it refers to the sport, or it could use an image that is obviously not appropriate for a garden fence.

On the other hand, the logo design is simple and appropriate for the sport, which are definite bonuses. We have not seen how the logo will be executed, but it is entirely possible that it will be displayed in a way that makes the meaning clear. Because this is a completely new brand, the possibilities are endless.

If you are trying to promote a sport or other activity in the UK, developing a professional brand and logo design can be very effective. We hope that this logo will invite more people to give fencing a try.