Late last year I wrote about the failure of my favourite football team in successfully reaching out to their online community of fans. In that instance Everton gave a hard time to an active and popular member of the online community at GrandOldTeam, with a fair bit of bad press as a result.
Now it should be said, in the interim, they’ve done some very nice things with social media, including a nice Christmas ad inspired by John Lewis. They’ve dropped a bit of a clanger again in the past few days however over the release of a new club badge.
The badge was widely criticized by the clubs supporters, with around 15,000 of them signing an online petition demanding that the badge be returned to its previous form.
That would be bad enough were it not for the fact that the design was leaked around a month earlier, and the response then was not positive either. Despite this feedback though the club proceeded with the design. The fact that the badge was designed by a Liverpool fan merely added salt to the wounds.
It seems unlikely that they’ll go back to last years badge, but the episode is sad in that it is so avoidable.
Companies like Threadless have shown the value, and merit, in having your customers design your products for you. In the aftermath of the new badge release, many graphic designers amongst the fan community have produced their own versions, some of which were considerably better received than the official version.
You also have communities such as 99designs where new designs are crowdsourced from a wide community of people.
It seems inevitable that there are a large number of designers within the global Everton community of fans that could have had a go at a new badge. These designs could then have competed against each other in a fan vote off. Everton are after all branded as the People’s Club.
Insead business school showed only last month the value that comes when you involve people in decisions that affect them, and that social tools enable this to happen like never before.
There is much that Everton do that make me proud to be a fan, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that they dropped the ball on this one in a big way.
** As an update to this story. Since it was written, the club have backed down in the face of the fan backlash and decided that the badge will only be in operation for this coming season, after which the fans will be consulted on a new version. Whether this will take the form of the crowdsourcing suggestions from earlier remains to be seen, but it underlines the power of social media.