Unlucky similarity turns new Aston Villa logo into a meme fest

Ah, sports team logo updates. They can cause more debate, controversy and ridicule than a team's performance on the pitch. Football clubs have learned the hard way that imposing a new design without consulting fans can be major own-goal, but a more democratic approach isn't guaranteed to result in a win either.

The new Aston Villa logo is the result of a vote among members of the club. And the choice has sparked one of the fastest international meme fests we've seen – all thanks to the design's resemblance to the badge of another Premier League club (if you're looking for new tools to make your own logo designs – or just to design the memes – see our pick of the best graphic design software.

The current Aston Villa logo and the new Aston Villa logo side by side

The current Aston Villa logo (left) and the new roundel, which will be used starting next seaso (Image credit: Aston Villa)

There are several reasons a football club might want to update its logo design. Sometimes its to modernise or make the logo easier to apply in contemporary uses, such as in app icons. The more cynical might even claim it's to sell new merchandise. But to look more like one of club's main rivals normally isn't one of the reasons.

Nevertheless, the unveiling of a new Aston Villa logo has caused surprise among football fans all over the world for its undeniable resemblance to that of rival Premier League side, Chelsea. After a vote by fans, the Birmingham-based team will replaces it current shield with a roundel.

It features the club's lion in a blue centre with the club's name and the year it was founded, 1874, in the claret surrounding. In contrast to the existing logo, the lion is facing to the right, as in Chelsea's badge, and font has more understated serifs, again making it look more like Chelsea's design.

The new Aston Villa logo and the Chelsea logo side by side

Seeing double?  (Image credit: Aston Villa / Chelsea FC)

Chelsea fans have been merciless. "Congratulations on your new Chelsea badge," one person wrote on Twitter. "From this day forward, I will call Villa the purple Chelsea," someone else said. 

Even Villa fans don't seem convinced by the results of the democratic process. Club historian Richard Whitehead told ITV News: “There's a fine line between respect for history and tradition and lazy nostalgia, and this feels like the latter." He also said he thought that such regular changes to the badge weakened the club´s brand.

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Villa say their new design was the result of "an extensive period of fan consultation, creative exploration and crafting". Two designs were shortlisted and, out of 23,500 fans who voted, 77 per cent favoured the winning design over the alternative – a gas lamp-shaped design more in keeping with the existing Aston Villa crest (see below).

The two options for the new Aston Villa logo

The Aston Villa logo options fans had to choose between (Image credit: Aston Villa)

Some fans have suggested that a few small details could have made all the difference to prevent the crest from looking quite so similar to Chelsea's, from keeping the existing typeface to including a shield in the roundel.

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To be fair, we should point out that Aston Villa did not really copy the new design from Chelsea – at least not this time round. A look back at the club's past logos shows that it has used a circular logo on several occasions before. 

A circular logo is hardly unique to Chelsea either. In 2015, Manchester City switched from an elaborate crest to a circle logo – also through the decision of fans. In fact, many teams have switched to roundel's too, presumably deciding that it creates a cleaner design that's easier to apply in social media. But it's starting to look all a bit samey, as if clubs are taking a template and adding their own name and colours.

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The Aston Villa logo looks especially similar to Chelsea's because of the unlucky coincidence that team also has a lion as its symbol, but then Villa fans will be keen to point that they had a lion before Chelsea... so did Chelsea actually copy Villa? Or did they both copy Rangers FC? Either way, perhaps it doesn't really matter considering how badly fans could draw football team logos from memory in a recent study.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.