Lyon Handball (LHB) and Villeurbanne Handball Association (VHA) are two local handball clubs in the metropolis of Lyon in eastern France. These two clubs are initiating a fusion in which, from a legal perspective, the VHA will take over the LHB.
Over 3 months, together with a brand consultant, and two designers, the clubs' brief is to scope out and create a new sport identity for the club fusions preserving the essences of both clubs and reflecting their common ambitions.
Market and Competition Analysis, User Research, Strategic Scenarios, Client Presentation
Power Point, Adobe Illustrator
With the aim of playing among the elite in the near future, the future club must become the benchmark professional club in the region and pull the region up while training and retaining talent from the local pool.
To benefit from the financial supports, i.e. the metropolis of Lyon and the cities of Lyon & Villeurbanne, the new club needs to be based in the city of Lyon and have visual or verbal cues of the cities of Lyon and Villeurbanne.
Creation of an identity that supports the objective of the new sport entity and reflects the principles and values of both clubs and their cities. This new identity is destined to become a brand and a first division club.
The approach is to find the opportunity space to build up a brand and/or a product. It involves the research of:
■ Differentiating from competitors
■ Credible for your brand
■ Relevant for the target groups
Handball is a collective-based sport of 7 players in each team. The sport teaches and carries strong values that are represented by these players like respect, inclusiveness, altruism, tolerance and upright.
Handball has increasingly caught the attention of TV broadcasters for several reasons:
1) Dynamic, rules impose the players to move and play forward
2) Format, 2 half-times of 30 mins great cut for advertising
3) Success, the French men's team won six world championship titles
4) Loved, it's the 3rd favourite collective sport of the French and 3rd sport in terms of license holders
Handball is, therefore, more and more followed by the public always more conquered.
The French Handball Federation counts 490,000+ licensees and in the region with the 3rd biggest city of France, Lyon, there are 9,231 licensees. The region of Lyon has 43 clubs but there are no professional club.
■ 1.4 million inhabitants
■ 9,231 licensees
The above table shows the different handball clubs playing each tier, the Starligue ( Division 1 of National League), the Proligue (Division 2 of the National League), and the Local (no local clubs reached the first and second divisions).
To define the values for the new sports identity, we looked at the communicated values and missions to analyse the difference between a professional and an 'amateur' club.
Here are the results based on the competitor analysis of 28 national clubs and 8 local clubs:
From one side, the Villeurbanne Handball Association club is looking to professionally develop itself on the French national scene and thus, needs to increase its budget to support this evolution.
On the other side, the Lyon Handball benefits from a solid youth formation program and wishes to offer an environment where young players could play at a higher level by joining later the adult teams.
Based on the common objectives and the clubs' personal ambitions, the new sportive entity's strategy will develop itself around the following key principles:
1. To be based on a high-quality youth formation program
2. To be an attractive regional hub
3. To build a competitive first-tier club
And consider, the following secondary principles:
4. To develop the handball identity of the region
5. To be rooted in the region and its identity
6. To keep a tight relationship with the amateur clubs/ world
Two questionnaires were designed and to the two clubs. The survey's aim was to understand the players' and supporters' expectations, desires and the values conveyed by handball as a whole. Our intention was also to look at what define the essential elements that underpin the identities of the two clubs, from a visual and verbal point of view. Over the course of two and a half weeks, we collected 242 answers.
Here is a break down of the main findings:
Findings from the brand, competitor analysis and consumer survey helped us to develop the mission and vision for the new entity by looking at both the clubs' board and its licensees + licensees' parents (legal guardians of the youth players).
The challenge: an identity that reflects a club with a local presence, a regional attractive power, & national standing, while being unique, memorable and differentiated from the locals and professional clubs.
Referring back to the methodology, we are looking to find the opportunity space to build up the new sports entity. After going through the collected materials, we came up with three scenarios:
Based on the above mentioned 3 strategic scenarios, we designed and presented the tree concepts.
For the first concept, we looked into the two handball clubs and the metropolis. The second concept is based on the previous history between Lyon Handball and LOU Rugby. Finally, the third concept is our wildest card, where we looked into the history of the city of Lyon.
The creative exploration will be articulated around identifying & developing the logo & the visual language (colours, shapes & design elements).
To ensure a consistent identity, the creative exploration will include the following touchpoints:
1) Sport environment: ball, jersey, etc.
2) Media environment: Outdoor, digital banners, social media, apps, etc.
After briefing the designers, we received a couple of logo design proposals per scenarios. The clients' first wanted to get an idea of the future entity visual aesthetics before fully implementing it across touchpoints. The two clubs had to first present their fusion plans to the boards before moving forward with the project.
Two routes were selected: 1) Grand Lyon and beyond and 3) Gones de Lugdunum. Few designs aspected had to be revised like the colour palette and design expressions of the characters.
After visual revision, the discussion continued on the new entity's name. Heptagone was one of the favourite names for the new sports entity in combination with using both city names. Hepta means 7 in Greek, where seven represent the number of players in a handball team, and Gones means a person from Lyon and/ or a kid in the Lyonnais language.
To federate, the new sport entity emblems and names were then presented to the clubs' boards and licensees in a survey to test and compare the two scenarios. 237 participants from both clubs took part in this survey, here are the results:
Summary of the collected comments on the participants' choice:
■ The lion can better represent both genders unlike the male god
■ The male god is seen as too aggressive
■ The 1st emblem is more representative of the sport + the name more readable
■ The 2nd emblem is visually too heavy + the story behind it appears unclear
Lyon and beyond – a manifest that embodies the club values and encapsulates the spirit of the club.
Before implementing the full breadth of the new identity, each club had to carry a vote, which includes boards members and licensees, to agree on the club fusion plans.
Lyon Handball (LHB) voted in favour by the majority, but Villeurbanne Handball Association (VHA) voted against. In addition to the Covid-19 situation, the fusion project was put to an end.
Project completed in 2020.
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