Modern day epic
The Russian Premier League is the top professional football league in Russia. It was established at the end of 2001, with 16 teams competing over a 10month season to be crowned national champions. The league has three UEFA Champions League and two Europe League qualifying spots awarded to the season’s top five teams. The bottom two teams are relegated.
With both feet in the past
It had been many years since Russian football last occupied the heart of the nation. Despite being ranked sixth by UEFA, Russia’s club football had struggled to gain any recognition in the modern era.
A decline in match attendance, TV audiences and sponsorship reflected the lack of connection between the countries elite football and the Russian public.
Blotted by hooliganism and racism, its negative image was a turn-off to fans, broadcasters and commercial partners.
A confusing sponsorship architecture and an out-dated brand identity only compounded the belief that Russian football would remain a thing of the past.
A brighter future
The twelve-month period leading up to the 2018 Fifa World Cup would be a perfect opportunity to start the game’s transformation and to build a positive legacy.
To reverse the game’s decline, the Russian Football Premier League (as it was called) needed to create an image that could attract new fans as well as re-engage existing.
This would require a new positioning for the competition brand and a screen-friendly identity to help build awareness across international as well as domestic markets.
Change was driven by the excitement and promise provided by the pending World Cup, including the spectacular new stadia being constructed across the country.
Our role was two-fold: provide brand-building expertise to the client team and strategic direction to local advertising and design agencies.
We began by combining forces with Leo Burnett, Moscow to undertake research with fans and to run workshops with stakeholders.
The key insight was the realisation that a national football competition played in a country the size of Russia is one of sports epic stories. With its vast scale, climatic extremes and cultural diversity, the Russian Premier League is a compelling story based on endurance, identity and character.
Against this background, we created a new brand purpose that celebrated difference, authenticity and an uncompromising attitude.
Through workshops and presentations with club representatives, our recommendations included a radical new and simplified architecture. Key to simplifying the brand was the decision to move to a clean brand, with a single name.
The name ‘Russian Premier League’ was adopted and the complexity of a title sponsor model was dropped to increase the brand’s appeal with a wider group of commercial partners and broadcasters.
Bold symbol of unity and identity
Using our new brand positioning and strategic direction, Art Lebedev, the Moscow based creative agency, designed the new visual identity as a modern interpretation of the Russian bear.
An internationally recognised symbol of Russia, the bear is also a unifying emblem for the nation. The bold, dynamic design is a modern expression of Russian football’s epic story and another indicator of a nation’s growing confidence and pride.
Over a successful and enjoyable 6-month period, we worked in Moscow and London in support our clients, providing strategic input and direction to local agencies, and helping to gain approval from member clubs and other key stakeholders. The new brand was launched at the start of 2019 season.