Bristol Rugby have celebrated their return to the Aviva Premiership next season by revealing a total rebrand of the ambitious Westcountry club, which includes changing the club name to ‘Bristol Bears’, replacing the old Bristol Rugby crest, and totally overhauling the club’s kit designs.
Bristol owner Steve Lansdown has big plans for Bristol rugby, and he feels that a rebrand was an essential step in the club’s ambitions to become a Premiership and Champions Cup-winning team. “In order to achieve success and to meet the demands of this highly competitive environment, we must be bold in our thinking,” said Lansdown. “We must shake up the established status quo. We cannot afford to tread water and wonder ‘what if?’”
The first part of that is replacing the old Bristol Rugby logo, which was a tweaked version of the City of Bristol’s coat of arms, with an angry-looking bear motif. A move that will doubtless polarise fans.
However, the most striking part of the rebrand involves the newly revealed 2018/19 kits, which do away with a great deal of the 130-year-old club’s traditional look.
The new home jersey, produced by Lansdown’s Bristol Sport brand, relegates the club’s traditional blue and white hoops to the sleeves and shorts, with the body being a bold and striking mix of Bristol blue and dark red.
The away shirt does away with any of Bristol’s traditional colours, opting for a plain black design with black and white hooped socks and sleeves.
It’s also noticeable that the kit numbers on these shirts appear to have a letter inside them – a nod to the old-school practice that several English clubs did, of using letters rather than numbers to denote position. Leicester Tigers also represent this throwback on their jerseys.
This isn’t the first time Bristol have had a massive rebrand – in 2001 Bristol became ‘Bristol Shoguns‘ in a sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Motors, for five seasons, during which they were relegated from the Premiership, but also won the Powergen Shield.
It remains to be seen if Bristol’s new rebrand will be more successful than last time, and if the long-suffering fans will embrace it more than the much-maligned Shogun name was, but in both vision and execution, it’s certainly bold.