Anthony Costa sports branding

Anthony Costa

Sports Identity & Design

The New Sydney FC x Puma Kit is Beautifully Simple

July 24, 2015
Sydney FC Puma kit

Sydney FC showed off its svelte new Puma kits this week. The designs are tight and tick the right boxes.

There’s no pithy piping. No mucky gradients. No patchwork of pointless panelling. No visual static. Just clear sky blue. It’s a clean and coherent look, framed by the bold black sleeve bands and straightforward v-neck collar. A subtle ribbon down the ribs crisply syncs the shorts with the shirt. It’s a smart and confidently subtle strip. I’d love it even more minus the blobby sponsor logo.

But isn’t all-blue a bit boring? Isn’t it a little obvious? Well yes, but that’s hardly a bad thing. ‘Don’t try to be original, try to be good’, was the mantra of legendary graphic designer Paul Rand (a saying borrowed from master modernist architect Mies van der Rohe). The Sydney FC kit is sublimely simple. It faithfully represents the club without a whiff of phoney embellishment. There’s nothing try-hard or trumped-up about it. 

Puma are making a concerted push into football. It’s a positive move for a brand with a diminished presence in team sports. Don’t expect Puma to make a splash with dazzlingly creative kits. Their job right now is to show that they belong in the football category, not to reinvent it. They need to show that they get football and can be a trusted custodian of the game’s traditions. Respectfully restrained kits like Sydney FC’s are a great step.

Puma is a brand rediscovering what it’s all about. For too long it has struggled to define itself. In the 70s and 80s Puma wasn’t sure if it was a performance brand or a discount brand. In the 90s and 2000s it wasn’t sure if it was an athletic brand or a fashion brand. Puma seem to have finally worked out that their core business is sport. It has become a niche player in the biggest sport of all through its support of African football, and its Azzurri sponsorship has added some championship cream to the cake. Niche strategies get tough though when there’s no niches left. There’s hardly a sport in the world that hasn’t been Swooshed. Puma’s a long way behind Nike, but it has all the assets to become a major market player. Instead of resigning itself to niche thinking it should think big and expand the Formstripe’s footprint. Sydney FC may not be a global superpower, but sponsoring a raft of lower tier teams puts the Puma logo on the park, creating the social proof that comes from repeatedly seeing professional athletes wear the product.

Team sports bring out people’s passions. It’s where Puma need to be. Their sharp Sydney FC kit is faithful to the game and the club and should be a fan favourite.

Follow Anthony @costasports

Sydney FC Puma kit

Anthony Costa

Anthony Costa is a designer specialising in sports branding. Anthony has appeared on Fox Sports News , 1116 SEN, ABC Radio and is an Australian Sports Commission Media Awards finalist. His work has been featured in The Age, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Sports Business Insider Australia.

Follow @CostaSports


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