Why are we Rebranding?
This has been an ongoing project for around three years now which was originally suggested to give Hitchin Town Football Club a unique identifier – something which represents us as a football club and which our fanbase can be proud to wear.
In the past the previous crest was used inconsistently (different colours, elements added/removed etc). Whilst we have been proud to wear the Hitchin “coat of arms” – this was a crest designed and introduced back in 1936, largely representing the town’s industries at the time.
However, 85 years has since passed, and we feel it is time for change. Our aim was to introduce a new Club Crest which truly and solely represents our football club. We have spent literally hundreds of hours researching our history, specific yellows and green tones and other elements which enables us to deliver an all-inclusive design.
What was wrong with the old Crest?
As part of the exercise, we took a good look at all of the crests and badges used to represent the football club throughout our long history – especially the previous version.
During this, we broke down each element to understand whether the design was appropriate to represent our Club. Here are the five elements of the coat of arms style crest.
As you can see, these elements are not a fair representation of Hitchin Town Football Club in the 2020s. We have therefore taken the decision to rectify this and create something appropriate and welcoming to all.
How did you decide the make-up of the new design?
Firstly, we have spent a long time searching the Clubs archives, reading old literature and digitally archiving every old photo we could find, trying to further understand when and how a crest was first used on the Club shirt. This led us to the squad photo from the 1949/50 season – where a singular black shield was used with a canary, accompanied by the HTFC letters in a calligraphy-style type.
We then created a timeline to see where and how our crest has evolved over time, noting the change in design throughout. This allowed us to see what we liked and disliked about the previous crests, allowing us to develop and deliver the new design whilst carefully considering our past.
Here is a breakdown of each element of the new design:
Throughout the process we’ve flitted between shields and circles. You’ll note that the majority of modern-day Club rebranding exercises currently use circular shields (Bristol City, Stevenage, Brentford, Manchester City etc). These mainly follow a theme of including a Club identifier in the centre of the design with the Club name and formation dates arching around. In fact, one of the designs which we were very close to selecting was very similar in makeup to this.
However, we opted to return to the drawing board and create something a little more unique – ignoring the trend and going it alone, ensuring we respected our past.
That first crest above from the 1949/50 season utilised a shield of the same shape in the new design, as did the “coat of arms” crest which has been used by the Club for the past 40-50 years. We felt the continuation of this was appropriate, delivering a traditional “look and feel” which we felt supporters would enjoy.
It does not need a huge explanation on this decision – we are the Canaries and so very quickly came to the assumption that the core identifier on the crest should be exactly that, a Canary!
During the process we did consider the introduction of other elements associated with Hitchin as a town, namely St. Marys Church, the River Hiz and a Crown to represent the Royal connection – however, each of these cluttered the design and we opted for a: “less is more” approach.
It’s very difficult to develop a Canary which does not look feeble, but instead stands proud. We’re incredibly proud of the final design. Just to add some context to the consideration of the Canary design, throughout the process we drew over 200 canaries in various poses.
Finally, we’re a football club with a great and famous history – so we feel it appropriate to display this. We therefore developed the Canary to be facing forward but looking back, never forgetting our past.
The FA Cup
The majority of Clubs who use a bird within their crest display the bird stood on a ball. This is the natural option – Bristol City, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Norwich City etc. However, here is where ours differs.
Our Canary proudly stands atop the first ever FA Cup, which Hitchin FC competed in and the townsfolk of Hitchin financially contributed towards.
These may be just words. However, we carefully considered how and where the Hitchin Town FC text sat and feel the selected decision allows it to wonderfully compliment the design of the Canary.
The selected font took some real consideration and another whole heap of research. This involved looking way back into the town’s history, with the selected typeface inspired by two things:
- The Doomsday book. Noted as a town with a “recorded population of 103 households”, the word Hitchin appears in a very old-style typeface.
- On the side of Hitchin Library is a ‘History of Hitchin’ mural which was originally displayed on Brand Street in the town centre. We really liked the font used for the “Hicce” tribe – if you’ve not seen this, check it out!
Both of these elements utilised an almost roman-type font which was very unique and “Hitchin Town FC”. Again, we couldn’t be happier with the result.
And finally, the yellow and green colours! Over the years the Club has used a variety of yellows and greens, but we’ve intentionally selected two tones which we feel research both elements of our fanbase.
Firstly, we have the royal green. This traditional “Racing Green” darker tone shows class, character and history.
Secondly, we have what we’re referring to as Canary Yellow. This bright and vibrant colour represents our youth, our charisma and our future.
Why rebrand now?
As mentioned above, this has been an ongoing project for three years, but we had always earmarked the 2021/22 season as the ideal opportunity to launch a new identity. The new campaign marks 150 years since the first Hitchin FC took part in the first ever FA Cup.
Throughout the rebrand process we have digested a huge amount of previous Hitchin Town literature – a large majority of which was collated and produced by our former, rather infamous Club Secretary Vic Wayling, between the 1960s – 1980s. Vic had a way with words, beautifully describing our Club and the people that made it, often making reference to our history which he worked so tirelessly to preserve, predominately via the World’s First Football Museum located at Top Field.
We therefore felt that the 150 years anniversary was too good an opportunity not to reinvent our football club with a modern look and feel.
1865? But I thought we were formed in 1928?
Whilst the football club was effectively “reformed” in 1928, we feel there is enough evidence and similarities between the first and second incarnations to see these two as one Club. This is what we plan to do going forward, adopting 1865 as our formation date.
Again, this was something the aforementioned Vic was incredibly proud to do, arranging 100 year celebrations in 1965 and such. We therefore feel this part of the Club’s history is too important to lose. Here are just a few reasons why we feel the two periods are indeed a part of one Club – Hitchin Town Football Club.
Firstly, whilst the first Club were indeed formed as Hitchin FC – they were regularly referred to as Hitchin Town FC and from what we can gather, formerly adopted this name around the turn of the century, as proven by the title of this Club handbook (https://northhertsmuseum.org/north-hertfordshire-museum/collections/object-details/363713/) from the 1904-05 season.
Whilst Hitchin FC originally played at Dog Kennel Farm in what is now Charlton, then at Hitchin Cricket Ground – they moved to what was then called “Bedford Road Ground” around 1874, playing there until our short pause in 1911 before reclaiming it as our “home” in 1928. Top Field has therefore been the home for both Clubs for 99% of our history.
Raising the Old Ship
Even at the time – this wasn’t seen as a “new Club”, but merely a “raising of the old ship” as described in this newspaper article describing the reincarnation meeting held at Hitchin Town Hall in 1928. We aren’t a new Club – we just took a pause. We were and still are the premier football club representing the town of Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Finally, whilst there were clearly lessons to be learned from the first formation, two of the committee members remained the same across both incarnations of the Club.
Looks a bit like Norwich City doesn’t it?
OK so it’s best we just get this one out of the way. As a Club who play in yellow and green and are also nicknamed the Canaries, comparisons were always going to be drawn. However, we believe the differences are enough for the two brands to stand independently. Here are just a few of the differences between this new design and the existing Norwich City crest:
- This design features the clubs name within the crest
- This design feature the clubs founding year within the crest
- The canary is perched on the first FA Cup
- The canary’s head is turn, looking back
- This design has a unique yellow/green colour combination
- The design is constructed using block shapes, as opposed to line art.
Where will be it seen?
This new Club crest will represent the Club both on and offline. It’ll be worn on the 2021/22 Hummel kits by the first team, ladies’ teams and all teams within the youth section. It will also be seen digitally, on the website and social media, as well as around our famous Top Field ground. We have even introduced a brand guidelines document, so as to ensure consistency of use moving forward.
In fact, a variety of merchandise items featuring the new Club crest are on sale now, including the 2021/22 home shirt, polo shirts, pin badges, mugs and scarves. More merchandise items will follow in due course.
Will we still use the old crest as well?
In order to ensure consistency of brand moving forward, this new design will be the only crest used to represent Hitchin Town Football Club from 30th April 2021 onwards.
A large amount of time has been spent in designing a new brand guidelines document which if required, is available upon request. The reason document for this is to explain where and how the new crest should be used.
It looks great – but how much did it cost?
We can 100% confirm that no Club money has been spent on this new brand image, with the designer financed separately.
Indeed nor was any of the Crowdfunder monies spent on the design process, although a small section of the Top Field improvements budget from this has been spent on new and very overdue signage around the ground – primarily a new main stand sign (the old one had come away) and a new fixtures board (the old one was unsafe and had to be removed) viewable on the junction of the Bedford Road / Fishponds Road roundabout.
Who designed this fantastic crest?
Project managed internally by Stewart Curtis, we were honoured to be joined on the project by renowned football designer Christopher Payne, who curated the final design and launch collateral – he has been nothing short of sensational throughout the process. His attention to detail, commitment and passion for the project has been superb. Just a couple of the lengths which he went to include spending a morning in his local pet shop (in San Francisco) photographing different angles of a Canary, learning to sew to recreate the original 1949/50 canary design and directing an incredible launch video – click here if you’ve not seen that yet.
As well as this wonderful new design, he is also been responsible for the rebrands of Alfreton Town, Taunton Town and Eastleigh FC, as well a newly formed US-based New Amsterdam FC, Appalachian Football Club and most-recently Flower City Union – and is sure to add many more feathers to his football branding cap.
It goes without saying that we would not hesitate to recommend his services to other Clubs looking to do the same.
A large number of additional thank yous are also due. As mentioned, this process has been three years in the making, as we wanted to ensure it wasn’t rushed, it appealed to all and the design stood the test of time.
The first designer was Nick Budrewicz, without whose input we would not have reached our result today, so thank you to him.
We would also like to thank Hitchin Library, Anthony Brown, Matthew Platt from North Herts Museum and Neil Jensen for their help in researching the Club’s history. Their insights were incredibly valuable.
Also thank you to Peter Else and our wonderful models for the new photos – First Team captain Dan Webb, Ladies First Team captain Emma Chaffey and Under 10s player (and Canaries superfan) James Mason.
We hope you enjoy the new design as much as we do.
BY STEWART CURTIS