Once known for their robust, no-nonsense style on the pitch (to put it lightly), Leeds United Football Club took a more considered approach by consulting the fans when designing their latest club badge.

However, democracy at the forefront and keeping everyone happy may not have been the best approach.

Leeds is averaging a new crest every nine years, apparently, so you’d think they would be used to this malarkey by now, but the latest design – to celebrate the club’s centenary – seems to be the least popular to date.

To create any kind of successful identity, you need to get to the heart of the organisation or product. With only an instant to grab the attention and affection of your audience, it’s imperative that any brand agency understands what makes the audience tick – and knows what the client is trying to achieve.

Credit to the club, they asked the fans what Leeds meant to them. Over 10,000 stakeholders, fans and club staff were involved in a thorough six months of consultations in order to generate genuine insights before any concepts were drafted.

However, this is where the process seems to have hit a bit of a howler. Rather than use those insights to create a well-crafted and iconic club symbol, the new club badge seems to have taken them a little bit too literally. It simply depicts the ‘Leeds Salute’. To the uninitiated, this is the right fist being placed against the heart. Strange idea aside for a club crest, the execution is wide of the target. It has a strong stock image feel and doesn’t exactly scream quality (much like the football at Elland Road, some would say…). Those that remember the Yorkshire White’s on old Pro Evo games may agree it is more befitting of them. It’s even been compared to fascist art and heartburn ads.

While the club’s aim to celebrate the fans and promote the community is admirable, it almost feels like the badge has been created with a PR campaign in mind. The launch included the hashtag #MOT, which denotes the fan song Marching on Together (some may say the logo is in need of an #MOT itself), and is no doubt part of a much wider marketing plan to involve the community.

But that community has given its feedback loudly and clearly – well over 50,000 signatures had been added to a protest petition within 12 hours of the new crest being released, and the meme’s soon followed! The club is now being democratic yet again, by heading back to the drawing board.

This time Leeds, let’s hope the creatives can come up with a winner. We agree that research and informed opinion is the cornerstone of any successful project, but football fans are not brand specialists. Extra time is needed on this one it seems.