The Reebok logo--a delta symbol--is now taking over the entire brand.

The transition signifies a major shift in Reebok's brand strategies: pro athletes are out, and fitness junkies are in.

First unveiled in 2011 and designed internally, Reebok's Delta CrossFit logo is meant to symbolize the three pillars of positive self-change: mental, physical, and social.

As the company has increasingly embraced CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerobics as a means of growing the business, it has simultaneously abandoned sponsorships, such as a deal with the NFL that lapsed in 2012.

Over time, what began as the logo of a sub-brand began to better represent the future of Reebok, much more than its 28-year-old vector logo.

Co.Design

How Reebok Became The Brand For Crossfit Junkies

For only the second time in the company's 120-year-history, Reebok has changed its logo. It might look familiar.

Reebok is a 120-year-old brand, but it was only in the last 30 years that the sports apparel maker traded in its classic Union Jack logo for something new. Released in 1986, the vector logo abstracted the original Union Jack into a streak across a racing tack. It was meant to symbolize Reebok's transition into a performance brand, and as such, the company became heavily focused around striking licensing deals with professional athletes in the NFL and NBA.

Over time, though, growth across Reebok's line of products has slowed, with one major exception: Reebok's CrossFit range, which saw a 13% increase in revenue in the first quarter of 2013. Which is why the Reebok logo—a delta symbol—is now taking over the entire brand. The transition signifies a major shift in Reebok's brand strategies: pro athletes are out, and fitness junkies are in.

"A brand is something that constantly evolves, based on a new insight or an opportunity," says Yan Martin, vice president of global brand marketing at Reebok. "In the late '80s, Reebok was very, very strong in the world of professional sports, but the landscape changes, as has the way people approach physical activity. We wanted to sharpen Reebok's point of view around fitness to change with the times."

First unveiled in 2011 and designed internally, Reebok's Delta CrossFit logo is meant to symbolize the three pillars of positive self-change: mental, physical, and social. In many ways, these pillars represent the changes happening at Reebok as well. As the company has increasingly embraced CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerobics as a means of growing the business, it has simultaneously abandoned sponsorships, such as a deal with the NFL that lapsed in 2012. Over time, what began as the logo of a sub-brand began to better represent the future of Reebok, much more than its 28-year-old vector logo.

"The more we looked at it, the more it seemed like the right symbol for today's brand purpose," says Martin. "The core philosophy of the fitness lifestyle is that people can change for the better, and that rang true to us. We really believe that, at the end of the day, Reebok's products should be about the benefit of fitness to everyday people, not about elevating athletes to new heights of unattainable prowess."

If there is criticism to aim at the new logo, it's that Reebok is hardly the first company to embrace the delta symbol's association with the concept of change and transformation. Whether you think its ubiquity makes it tired or a classic, there's no shortage of delta logos out there, from your recycling bin to the icon of Google Drive to the design printed on the back of your Delta airplane ticket.

But while the new Reebok logo might be a little drab and unoriginal—I personally prefer the vintage Union Jack, a mark which still adorns clothes in Reebok's lifestyle range of products—it is, at least, earnestly felt, and a good example of why the logos of companies change. It's not always a senior executive pulling the trigger in a blind attempt to remain relevant. Sometimes, companies really believe that a logo should represent what it is now.

That's not to say, though, that market forces haven’t motivated Reebok’s transition. In an interview with Bloomberg, Katja Erbe, brand director for Reebok in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, said that Reebok is embracing the delta because the brand is currently not at the top of people's minds like the two other big brands in the market [Nike and Adidas]." Doubling down on the delta logo is Reebok's big push to stop being an also-ran.

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8 Comments

  • This make Reebok even more generic. The logo looks like something for a software company. And this genius statement: WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT REEBOK'S PRODUCTS SHOULD BE ABOUT THE BENEFIT OF FITNESS TO EVERYDAY PEOPLE. - Such a generic statement and position for a brand to take that its even less memorable than it was before. Pretty poor from the brand director. 

  • Not that I want to be 'that person,' but referring to Crossfitters as "fitness junkies" and not athletes is a little too close to editorializing for my taste. As a journalist, a designer and a Crossfitter, I'm particularly aware of this. The word 'junkie' doesn't exactly have a positive connotation, and to say that Crossfitters aren't athletes just shows a general ignorance for what it is that Crossfit athletes do. We are most definitely athletes who train and compete and work with coaches. Yes, there are cult stereotypes, but they're just that. I love Fast Company, but how about a little more objectivity please!

  • The word "athlete" is generally reserved for people in competitive sports. Crossfit participants are not involved in a competitive sport, meaning most editors would choose not to use "athlete" to describe them.

    But more to the point, there obsessive nature to Crossfit. You might not like the word "junkie," but it is not editorializing to use the term to people who are obsessive.

  • Husani K. Barnwell

    Functional Fitness is, indeed a competitive sport. Besides competing against oneself as well as others in similar fashion to track & field, there's also the new National Professional GRID League, which has teams of men and women competing together against other teams of competitors. But regardless, an "athlete" need only be proficient in any athletic endeavor -- in various forms of physical exercise. And any way you slice it, "junkie," has negative connotations. Calling someone a "fiend," or "crackhead" for a certain activity isn't as neutral as writing "extremely dedicated," or even "fanatical."

  • Zeljko Ribic

    It is nothing more than embarassing to read your comment Scott. You don't have the slightest clue what you are talking about, yet you make weird statements that seem based on your gut feeling rather than any kind of facts.

    Would you describe weightlifters, swimmers, cyclists, track&field, gymnasts, as athletes? I guess YES, even with your sceptic way of argumenting... Well, when you take the essence of all these sports and create a new sport/activity, you will likely call the performers, athletes as well.

    Ofcourse, there are coaches, training and competitions... Why not give it a try instead of being a "sofa sceptic"... You might enjoy it...

  • Gustavo Chinchilla

    A wise brand portfolio decision from holding Co. Adidas Group plays a big role on Reebok's brand strategy, as well as its results, and will explain why the "growth across Reebok's line of products has slowed" (intentionally, most likely). You can not have two of your own brands after the same mass sports (running, football, soccer, basketball, etc.). You need to make strategic decisions about each of your brands role and targets. A logo remembered as an ubiquitous brand that played in many fields, has been changing to a segmented one in promising growth markets/niches (owning the sports of fitness).