An Italian Icon Becomes a Global Brand

By Robert Tayco

Juventus FC (a.k.a. Juve) is an Italian football institution and household brand. Founded in 1897, the club has become one of the most successful in the history of the sport. Juve is the only football club in the world to have won every official international competition. Support for clubs like Juve, who have more than a century of history to their name, is a tradition passed down from one generation to the next. Good luck to anyone thinking of messing with any part of that tradition.

Enter Interbrand

Interbrand is a global branding agency and the firm tasked with just that: messing with tradition. Entrusted by Juventus, Interbrand takes an almost defiant posture in forging the direction for their new identity.

Juventus aims to distill its essence into far-reaching experiences which can appeal to the football fan while being highly relevant to entertainment enthusiasts who are further away from football as a sport.

The new identity will then follow the team to showcase future digital, social, and retail experiences to loyal supporters, soccer enthusiasts, business partners, and entertainment enthusiasts. Juventus’s move is unprecedented—to become recognized for more than their performance on the field, but as a universal symbol for perseverance, ambition, and premium Italian style.

— Interbrand, from their official project page

Juve Goes Electric

Armed with their new look, Juventus is positioning itself as an all-encompassing lifestyle brand, expanding its appeal beyond the millions of football fans already devoted to the club. But this isn’t any old lifestyle brand. Interbrand goes a step further by unveiling the design as: “Beyond entertainment. Beyond lifestyle. Juventus is an identity.”

Before we discuss what the rebrand even looks like, the mission statement could be seen as an all-caps betrayal of the integrity of a more than century-old Italian institution. Juventus has been a constant source of pride since its inception as a football club. To expand its focus into becoming “beyond lifestyle” is a splash of cold water in the face of purists. Juventus is showing up to the Newport Folk Festival with a Fender Stratocaster.

Club supporters who make the trip to Juventus Stadium for home games may have to start competing for tickets with new fans — fans who will undoubtedly be eager to be part of the spectacle. As if the historic success of the club didn’t already fill their bandwagon, directly targeting an even wider audience will surely welcome countless more.

Your Juventus Really Brings Out Your Eyes

Long-time fans of many globally-recognized football clubs are feeling crowded by the tourist supporters — people unaware of the history of the club, the players, or the songs erupting from the die-hard fan sections. Devoted supporters are sharing the stands with those quite content to collect selfies and social media material with the action on the pitch as their backdrop.

From Italian Icon to Global Brand - Man Utd selfie

Clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona FC, and Real Madrid have long become lifestyle brands — much of that owed to their massive and unrelenting success over the years. Major clubs at this level have dedicated social media teams, clothing, and merchandise. Manchester United even has their own television channel, MUTV.

Juventus is making a deliberate, conscious effort to move in this mass-appeal direction. Like other clubs, Juventus recognizes how tremendously fashionable it is to at least look like a supporter of a popular football club. They’re not only embracing this inevitability, they’re planning to use this customer behavior to push the brand even further.

Extreme Brand Makeover

From Italian Icon to Global Brand - Juventus Logo History

Juventus has been wearing their trademark black and white stripes since 1903. Aside from their Ferrari-like emblem during the ‘80s, the club logo has remained virtually unchanged dating back to 1905.

From Italian Icon to Global Brand - Juventus Logo 2017The new mark is bold, minimalist, and distinctly unlike anything else in the Italian Serie A football league. Seen next to the crests of their competition, Juve’s logo is an absolute DeLorean.

This brand strategy demands that they can still be recognized as a football club and simultaneously pass for a fashion label. While half the Internet hyperventilates over Interbrand’s assault on Juve’s history and tradition, they fail to recognize its brilliance.

The designers of the logo walked over to the gestalt dial and cranked that thing all the way up. The “J” crest forms a more traditional shield shape, moving away from their historic elliptical crest. The negative space assures us that the black and white stripes are still there. In fact, they’re everywhere.

The typeface Interbrand developed is exceedingly vertical, so much so that the wordmark “Juventus” looks like a series of black and white stripes itself. The design is a direct translation of the style of the modern game and the Juve of today.

From Italian Icon to Global Brand - Juventus Branded Merchandise

Check out the image above. Here it becomes evident that the new look is deliberately and thoroughly more modern and universal in its appeal. Stripping away the old logo’s bull and crown, symbols representing the club’s home in Turin, dissolves its ties to home. This allows the Juventus identity to be embraced by new fans with no links to the city or even country. It’s the stripes, the black and white color palette, the ambiguous minimalism of the logo that turns the brand into a high fashion label.

Hello World

Manfredi Ricca of Interbrand is insistent that the world has changed and football clubs “need to amplify their meaning beyond football itself. What we’ve done with Juventus is create a very versatile identity, which works in today’s world.” As much as those with the white and black coursing through their veins may lament this change, Ricca is right. He goes on to say:

There are quite a few people who are not F1 fans but are, for example, Ferrari fans. They can experience the brands through places, through products. The point is, can we make Juventus stand not just for the team, but for a brand people want to be part of. You don’t need to ride a motorcycle to be a Harley-Davidson enthusiast. You don’t need to be a motor-head to be a Ferrari fan.

The new look is a gorgeous bit of branding. It’s also a statement on the inevitable commercialization of all we hold dear. Like it or not, Juventus has decided that it has outgrown Turin. This is their symbolic move to court the rest of the world.