With golf currently on pause, it is important to appreciate how brand identity can help evolve and modernise golf clubs in a period of change. Gosling looked to reimagine a renowned local Harpenden golf club with a creative rebrand strategy.
Gosling’s collaboration with Harpenden Golf Club coincided with the club’s 125th anniversary in 2019. There was no better time to rebrand, rethink and revitalise the brand identity. Particularly, as the National Club Golfer notes, golf memberships in the UK were coming under pressure due to decline in the number of players.
The club created a 125 Steering Group to discuss their vision for the rebranding. Working with these key stakeholders, the group agreed that over the years the club had taken on a somewhat ‘elitist’ status. With a rising concern about declining memberships, with the question being if, “the club needed to attract a younger, more diversified demographic?”
This was felt throughout the golfing world, as The Social Golfer in 2019 noted, the playing field for golfers was failing to “move with the times” with expensive memberships and some failures to address the older, traditional attitudes within the sport. This mentality was impacting the sport as Full Time Cover in 2020 found that ‘England have suffered the highest fall (in terms of players) in Europe’ in the last few years.
With this in mind, Gosling designed new ideas to evolve the current brand and also, build a new identity. It was recognised that the current branding could not be consistently reproduced, there was no negative version, the crest filled in at smaller sizes and it was never considered for digital use when originally created.
The brand identity brief
- Create a 125th Anniversary logotype to mark and celebrate Harpenden Golf Club’s milestone.
- The logo needed to be robust as it would be applied across various materials; from scorecards to clothing and the club’s website.
- It needed to work with the branding and therefore an exploration into refreshing and renewing the whole brand.
With the 125th logo needing to fulfil at least two of the following criteria:
2) Maximise PR
With the knowledge of branding, creation, strategic researching and marketing, we allowed for a fluid and exciting project for Gosling.
So, how did we work on the rebranding?
“We conducted a visual audit, looked into key competitors and then immersed ourselves in the design stage. We explored the option of evolving the existing brand or creating a new brand. After a series of stakeholder engagement meetings and two focus group sessions the decision was clear – a new brand identity was the best route forward.
At the foundation of the new brand identity is a minimalist idea, designed to work across all its manifestations, including golf balls, signage, digital and merchandise. We made sure the brand was consistent and coherent.”
Breaking it down…
Stage one – Research the market
As a fellow business in Harpenden, our understanding of marketing within Hertfordshire aided our planning and benchmarking. We knew that competition was strong and we had to focus our imagination on creating a strong brand identity.
Overall, England has the highest number of golf courses in Europe, as Statista found, with 1,872 courses in the country. Harpenden alone hosts three golf clubs, highlighting not only the competition, but the challenge to stand out to a varied demographic.
Taking the present logo it was seen that the stag, font and colour scheme needed updating. The stag is an emblem for the Hertfordshire county. hence it’s addition to the logo. However, it was seen on many logos throughout the county, including a neighbouring golf club, which made the identities very similar. Alongside this, the colour of choice for most golf clubs was green making the logo fit in and not stand out.
Looking at the premium clubs there was a preference for tradition, with newer designs choosing simplicity. Small images, modern fonts and darker colour schemes created sleeker logos, compared to loud and detailed designs.
For us it was clear, simplicity made a modern and eye-catching logo – as they say… less is more?
We strive to take on creative projects and tailor them to our clients’ vision.
Stage two – Designing the brand identity
We understand that brands spend many years establishing themselves, generating great attachment to logos, designs and colours. Therefore, when rebranding, it is key to always have options with varying degrees of adjustment.
Three ideas were created:
- An evolution of the existing logo, with slight amends to the coat of arms and the year added.
- The removal of the coat of arms and replaced with a stag, modernised font and green in colour.
- The letter ‘H’ represented by gold tees with a grey, modern font underneath.
The key point to remember in designing a logo: where will the logo be applied?
For Harpenden Golf Club the design would feature on a variety of products, from booklets to golf balls, therefore it needed to be robust and transferable. All whilst balancing the need to implement this as cost effectively as possible.
Stage three – Testing the new identity
An important part of any rebranding stage is testing.
We presented our ideas to a focus group, of eight members of the club differing in age and gender. Within this, a clear decision was made on which design would be best suited.
The chosen design ventured the furthest away from the old branding. The focus group favoured the logo because of its difference, with a new colour scheme and the stag being removed. The new sleek and modern design – one that would seek to drive the club forward, further establishing and developing it.
Stage four – Implementing the new branding
Once the design was chosen Gosling encouraged a phased launch, allowing time for items to be rebranded and created.
The whole process was timely, as costs were to be incurred with all the new implementations from merchandise to the renovation of the club house and signage. With the club also investing in a large entrance sign made of stone where the new logo would be engraved.
When rebranding, it is essential to ensure that all elements and intricacies within the business fit and suit the new design. This helps for the introduction of the new branding and encourages its acceptance with consumers or, in this instance, the club members.
The process at Harpenden Golf Club was special, it allowed for a well-established venue to have an open mind and creative refresh. The new identifiable logo and brand promises an exciting future for the club and one we hope to closely follow.
“In 2019 Harpenden Golf Club celebrated our 125th Anniversary. We saw a re-brand to our image and move towards modernisation, whilst maintaining some traditions from the club’s long history.
Working closely with Gosling Creative we were able to efficiently re-brand every aspect of club life, from marketing literature, digital media to our own retail offering. Our entire team were able to learn from the re-branding exercise and have developed an understanding for the importance of consistent branding throughout our entire operation. This allows us to cater for in excess of 800 members plus thousands of visitors each year.
The ability to showcase the club’s vision through our branding has certainly helped us appeal to our desired demographic and in turn has led to over 100 new members under the age of 50 since the launch of the branding.”
For more information on our brand design work: https://goslingdesign.com/portfolio/
National Club Golfer, 2019 https://www.nationalclubgolfer.com/news/golf-club-membership-2019-decline/
Social Golfer 2019 https://blog.thesocialgolfer.com/2019/05/03/golf-participation-in-the-uk/