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August 9, 2013
Nearly two years after Paris Saint-Germain was bought by the Qatar Investment Authority, the new management unveiled the new logo of the club, to be used from the beginning of the 2013-4 season. We shall not enter the debate on why the new design may be accused of looking slightly clumsy. We are not going to ponder whether the Eiffel Tower is looked on from further down below than it used to be. We are not going to comment on the perplexing use of the character (a modified version of ITC Blair ?): on the shapes of the letters that have been transformed to fit in the logo & on the curves that no longer run smoothly (look at the R in PARIS: if you tried to drive into that bend, you would most likely end up crashing outside of the road). Neither are we going to say that the accompanying text «Rêvons plus Grand » is even more puzzling, what with the modified A & V lacking the optical correction needed at the junction between the vertical and diagonal. We are not going to say that the fading of the blue on the new logo looks slightly uncertain. In short, we are not going to make an aesthetic analysis of the logo.
Instead, we shall focus on the message. Jean-Claude Blanc, former CEO of Juventus & now deputy CEO (directeur général délégué) pointed out in an interview with Paris’s daily Le Parisien (http://www.leparisien.fr/psg-foot-paris-saint-germain/le-psg-presente-son-nouveau-logo-22-02-2013-2589305.php) that the new logo respect the so-called ‘fundamentals’ of the club:
« We are in a major European club, with symbols that represent it. It is not about a big break but the simplification of symbols. This logo is the expression of our new strategy with the construction of a world sport brand. »
It looks as if Jean-Claude Blanc has read my book, & this is probably why on the theory part, I would say he looks absolutely spot on, if I may say so myself. In terms of simplification, Blanc argues that the cradle (representing Saint-Germain-en-Laye) was not understood by many and had to go; he also adds that the 1970 date of foundation did not compare well with other clubs (with dates in the late 1800s on their logos).
Some questions about the new logo remain unanswered, though. First & foremost: should PSG be ashamed of being a comparatively new club? Doesn’t this betray a lack of self-confidence? No-one is ever going to believe PSG is an old club, are they? Especially today, there are values associated with youth that PSG could probably have used in their communication. (As mentioned in a previous post: what PSG has achieved in such a short time is rather remarkable).
Secondly, weren’t there more subtle ways of updating the logo? It is easy to understand that the brand the Qatari inverstors bought is Paris, arguably one of the two or the three most famous city names in the world. Apart from the enlarged word Paris, does the new logo say anything more about Paris? The major symbol in the logo, the one that is recognisable absolutely everywhere in the world, the Eiffel Tower, cleverly put in PSG’s original logo by Daniel Hechter, has been dwarfed by the lettering. What does ITC Blair say about Paris? Not much. There is a wealth of typographic history linked to Paris or at the very least France: it starts with Garamond, & includes Fournier as well as Didot types, 20th Century works from Cassandre & the foundry Peignot & Deberny, Adrian Frutiger who designed his namesake character, Frutiger for the Roissy airport (the one foreigners call Charles de Gaulle or CDG), or Jean-François Porchez. Why not use one of the fonts that have come to symbolise Paris? It is possible that the choice of ITC Blair was motivated by the fact it looks slightly like the one used in the original logo of the club (before the Hechter years)? But, then, wouldn’t Anisette make more sense? It is a contemporary revival of a design by Cassandre (author of the YSL logo among others) by Jean-François Porchez, who designed Parisine, used all throughout Paris in the Metro, Bus & RER system (Adobe said that his works have changed the face of Paris).
The current management of PSG has nothing to fear from the supporters, which have been too weakened by the previous CEO (Robin Leproux) to demonstrate against this new logo, but one way to get acceptance, is often to hark back to a past, forgotten or re-invented… In this respect at least, the new logo is not a success.