Speech given by Charlie Ryan at the Red Hill FNC Season Launch event on 28 March 2023:
As a new “local” to Red Hill since 2018, I joined the committee at the end of the big 2019 premiership season, in the newly minted role of Creative Director.
In this position one of the main tasks and priorities has been to oversee the development of a new brand identity for Red Hill.
At the time of commencing this project, I considered myself as a bit of an outsider at the club, so the strategy I undertook was to take my “sweet-arse time” on the development of this new brand. And to use the time to meet the people that have made and currently make what the club is today, to learn about its rich history, and to find out where the club is going. To talk and get to know the players, coaches, volunteers, former players, committee members, sponsors, and the punters.
And as some of you might remember, I introduced myself along with the Branding project on this very platform 2 years ago at the 2021 Season Launch. Of which afterwards, without naming names, I was promptly escorted to a backroom by a group of former players — and I admit it can be a bit hard to intimidate a 6-foot-6 bloke — but the general nature of the conversation was that I was given the green light to change whatever I needed to with the brand, but I wasn’t allowed to touch the uniform!
When we talk about brands and branding:
A brand is the gut-feeling an audience has about a business, an individual or in our instance, an organisation.
It is the combination of the services, products, experience, presentation, and reputation that makes a brand, a brand.
And in our case, at the Red Hill Football Netball Club, there are many things that make our brand, our brand. For example:
- That we as a club provide opportunities on and off the field for young people.
- And in turn, invest in the overall health and well-being of our players and staff (with initiatives like our Player Wellbeing Program).
- We provide a safe and welcoming place not just for our players, staff and volunteers, but for our greater community to congregate and socialise.
- Our incredible volunteers and our supportive paid-up members, who come down, rain, hail or shine – home and away – wearing the red and white – to cheer on our teams. And with the inclusion of such an inspiring calibre of locals who make up our Club’s Number 1 ticket holders; Tammie Fraser and Hamish and Sophie McLachlan.
- The phenomenal support and engagement from our sponsors, in particular to our major ones, like: Paringa Estate with their locally produced wines in our glasses tonight and Burnley Brewing with their Red Hill Champion’s Lager on tap here tonight and at the bar in the Clubrooms this season. And in turn our Club’s ability to provide a platform to promote and market their brands to an engaged and local audience.
- Having a Reconciliation Action Plan and actively acting on it with acknowledgments to country, an annual reconciliation match, engaging with local indigenous artists, from our game-day jerseys to decorative storytelling on our newly painted light towers.
- Being the first club on the Peninsula to create and host an annual Pride Round. And to do it in style with 50m rainbow lines, rainbow umpire flags, and rainbow uniforms.
- Our home game President’s lunches that engage and support local hospitality businesses, like Many Little and Pt Leo Estate and give our supporters something extra special to be a part of on their Saturday afternoon. And in turn, these events help raise funds for not just important additions at the Club, like our brand-new digital score boards, but at times for other non-profit organisations (like the 1000s raised last year to go towards stamping out homophobia in sport with Stand Up Events).
- A club that has active plans to install 5 new flag poles at our home ground so that we can fly not just the Australian and our own club flag, but also the Aboriginal, Torres Strait, Progressive Pride flags.
- A club that can put on a season opening event, at a world-class venue such as the Epicurean, and with the CEO of the actual AFL, Gillon McLachlan, as our special guest here tonight.
- And a club with a committee, led by the hardest working president (Graham Sherry) and of whose members bring a broad range of worldly skills and experience, who volunteer their time to deliver much of what I’ve just mentioned tonight and that uphold the integrity and values of the club. For example, just recently the committee voted against a proposal for an affiliation between the club and an online sports betting site. Stating amongst a number of things, that this was against our club’s values and our brand.
So when it came to developing the new brand identity for the club, whilst it needed to distil all these things that make the club’s brand, its brand.
There were 5 key points I felt were really important to consider in how we developed and shaped the design:
- The brand identity needed to present an equal representation as a sporting club for not just our Men’s football, but also our Women’s Football and Netball.
- That the brand needed to respect the rich history of the club, but also the modern and progressive club that it is today.
- It needed to be consistent, but flexible and easy to use by the club’s volunteers and teams for our communications and marketing.
- It needed to be cool: Wearable, purchasable and approachable.
- And it needed to visually represent those gut-feelings everyone in this room has about the club. Something that could be accepted, picked-up and carried by the club as whole, to be proudly worn and shared amongst the community. And in such cases like a former Club President here tonight, tattooed on their chest with the next Premiership win.
So taking inspiration from the advice provided to me from those passionate former players in 2021, the uniform design became the basis of the new brand direction.
The first design, which came into circulation shortly after was the “3 Vs” brand mark. This was intended as an internal logo, to be placed on the side and back of uniforms and merchandise, that incorporated the three distinct v designs already used on the Netball, Women’s and Men’s football team uniforms. The V’s were flipped to face upwards, representing the “mountains” that we climb here at Red Hill. Be it getting up on the ladder or more importantly rising in individual and team development. But also representing the three teams as a unified club working together, to help lift each other up.
And on behalf of the team leaders and the club’s committee, with the launch of the 2023 season, we are pleased to launch the new brand logo and identity at Red Hill.
An evolution of the traditional Red Hill solid V and the ideas behind the ‘3 Vs’ brand mark, presents the club with a ‘United V’ design. Similar to the concept behind the Union Jack.
The composition as a whole, is locked up in a modern shaped shield, which allows for its background to be adapted to create sub-brands for special events and games such as Reconciliation and Pride Round.
The typography element includes the silhouette of a hill within the lower section of the typographic logo and can be used with and without the shield, which gives the brand flexibility and versatility.
A brand that represents the history, but also the future of the club.
And of course, it’s brand colours are still and always will be, red and white.
And the playing uniforms untouched and unchanged.
Charlie Ryan has held a volunteer position on the Red Hill FNC committee since 2019, with a focus on the brand and communication strategy.
Photo, L-R: Hamish McLachlan (Seven Sport), Graham Sherry (President, Red Hill FNC), Gill McLachlan (CEO, AFL) at the 2023 Season Launch event at Epicurean Red Hill.