The new Cardiff City ‘branding’ is the perfect example of how NOT to run a football club. What’s worse is – most media outlets have simply repeated the press releases put out by Cardiff City without bothering to offer any context to what has just happened.
The decision to change club crest and colours – and it’s a wonder that the the club itself wasn’t renamed to Malaysia FC – can only be understood in terms of businessmen using ‘foreign assets’ for local gain – which is what Cardiff City is for the new Malaysian owner. However, despite his Premier League ambitions for the club, the owner hasn’t invested money in the club (debts are still owed although the new deal has ‘promised’ to pay them off quickly) until now, where the change in colours / crest is being covered by a promise that money will be invested in training facilities and stadium expansion.
The ‘rebranding’ has been explained as a need to make Cardiff City more acceptable to East Asian audiences. Given that the best possible method of doing that would be to a) get Cardiff City promoted to the Premier League and b) build a strong ‘local’ brand that gives Cardiff City positive press in England that can then be translated into widespread coverage in Malaysia, ignoring fan interests is idiotic.
To the Malaysian owners it means nothing – and to an extent that makes sense – a business logo is just a logo, which is easier to change before it’s famous and presented to millions of customers instead of changing it after their rise to fame. But the fact that they’ve treated Cardiff City as a purely business asset – and in the process blackmailing supporters through the process of debt repayment and investment – shows that they don’t understand football or footballing audiences at all.
The move may end up increasing Cardiff City’s acceptability in Malaysia, but as we’ve seen with Chelsea – it’s not the colours, it’s the on-field success that matters. And as we’re reminded on a daily basis by Blackburn, owners who don’t understand football end up damaging their brand instead of improving it.
It’s not that the new owners have initiated a change in crest or colours – the Cardiff City crest has undergone changes in the last two decades – but it’s the manner and motivation behind the change that’s an issue.
It would have been far easier to simply engage the fans and let them take responsibility for ‘upgrading’ the club’s branding – mismanaging relations with the fans means the owners will always be mistrusted – not a great start for someone who wants to use the club to enhance his personal image.