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Austin FC

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19 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

That’s what’s so fascinating though. That a “local” team came up with something that, objectively, is so uninspired. 

Plenty have people have rightfully mocked the branding sheet because you could replace “Austin” with any other city name and nothing else would have to change. 

 

You mentioned your hometown of Cleveland. I’ll bring up the town where I went to university; London, Ontario. 

Both Cleveland and London have the nickname of “the Forest City.” 

You could replace “Austin” with “London” or “Cleveland” and the logo wouldn’t have to be altered beyond that. Hell, it would be more fitting in either case because of both of those cities have the “Forest City” nickname. 

 

Austin, however, doesn’t have that imagery to justify such a mundane mark. Nothing in the city’s flag or seal depict a tree. And the city’s nicknames are all devoid of forest or tree references.

 

Which is even more odd. Check out these Austin nicknames...

“Live Music Capital of the World”

“Silicon Hills”

“City of the Violet Crown”

 

There’s some unique imagery to be mined from that, but instead they chose a tree. 

 

For all the talk of “local designers” we need to keep in mind that Anthony Precourt is not from Austin. 

It’s very likely he just liked the idea of a tree and told the local design team to make it work. 

 

Just because locals crafted the mark doesn’t mean they had a hand in deciding what it was. 

 

In my experience, the brief would likely not include direction on what the specific icon should be. Typically, the designers’ task is to find and develop a few relevant themes, then create imagery that support them.

 

I think the Austinites who have offered their thoughts provide good persoectives for why this will work for Austin. Just because an icon would theoretically work for another city doesn’t mean it can’t work for Austin.

 

50 minutes ago, schlim said:


What other cities in MLS use hyper-local identities? I agreed with everything you said but kinda feel lost by that statement. The league to me largely feels very generic or high level identities, with the fans providing the connections. Beyond the long-established names of the PNW teams, which identities besides Minnesota hint at hyper-local things?

 

Little things like the German influence in Columbus’ badge, the KS/MO border in Sporting KC’s badge, Minnesota’s loon, as you mentioned, NYC’s use of civic color and historic subway imagery, the Washington coat of arms (DC flag design) in United’s badge, Atlanta’s use of railroad imagery, LAFC’s Art Deco influence, New England’s increased use of the tree, etc. These seem to be the way MLS is trending vs. Space Needles, longhorns, and other, more “universal” imagery.

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So we’ve now listed more than half of the clubs in MLS.  

 

Maybe the problem isn’t that the identities are “generic”, but they’re so hyper-local that in some cases you don’t even realize they hold local significance. 

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19 minutes ago, andrewharrington said:

Little things like the German influence in Columbus’ badge, the KS/MO border in Sporting KC’s badge, Minnesota’s loon, as you mentioned, NYC’s use of civic color and historic subway imagery, the Washington coat of arms (DC flag design) in United’s badge, Atlanta’s use of railroad imagery, LAFC’s Art Deco influence, New England’s increased use of the tree, etc. These seem to be the way MLS is trending vs. Space Needles, longhorns, and other, more “universal” imagery.


Thanks! I haven't really kept up with the intricacies of MLS design, I guess I knew the LAFC influence, but didn't know about Columbus, Atlanta or DC's examples. I've always thought the Sporting KC rebrand was a disaster, just inoffensive and 'meh' all around, but Kansas City loves it. I always try to think the love for the team has more to do with the game atmosphere in a soccer only stadium instead of cramming 8,000 fans into 70,000 seat Arrowhead, but you see the colors and logo everywhere in KC. Also, the Wizards name harkens back to years ago here when the only souvenirs you could buy from KC were cow or Wizard of Oz related, which kinda reiterates my point about Austin and guitars and bats. 

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41 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

So we’ve now listed more than half of the clubs in MLS.  

 

Maybe the problem isn’t that the identities are “generic”, but they’re so hyper-local that in some cases you don’t even realize they hold local significance. 

 

why is that a problem? who cares if non locals dont get it? NYCFC is based off a subway coin; does that not work? who else would notice besides someone who has seen it often?

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On 8/25/2018 at 12:49 PM, Primzahl said:

It’s not even just those particular live oaks. There’s hundreds (if not thousands, due to the conservation efforts the city council has enacted through the years) of live oaks all over town. People definitely associate live oaks with Austin. There’s tons of references to the tree through street names, neighborhoods, and store names.

So do most cities. What of it?

 

On 8/25/2018 at 1:47 PM, andrewharrington said:

In my experience, the brief would likely not include direction on what the specific icon should be. Typically, the designers’ task is to find and develop a few relevant themes, then create imagery that support them.

Depends on what the owner wanted. Isn't that what's often brought up any time a bad logo comes out? Don't blame the designer, they had to work within the limitations assigned to them by the client. As neither you or I were there? We can only speculate. I don't feel I'm too far out there to suggest that maybe the tree was forced upon the design team.

 

And even if it wasn't? Well you're going to be annoyed by this, but I trust from our previous conversations that you'll know not to take this personally...

Professional designers don't always know what they're talking about. I've had conversations with a few pro designers here who had no idea what they were talking about when a historical theme in a logo was brought up. The Minnesota Timberwolves' last logo unveiling comes to mind, with designers here praising the decision to make the A in the wordmark a viking rune for wolf, despite the fact that the shape used...isn't a viking rune for wolf.

 

Take the current crest. We've had one Austinite who has said that the tree works because it represents the oak trees used to mark meeting places for local Native tribes, or the tree used to mark the spot where Stephen Austin met with Native tribes to settle boundary disputes.

Ok. That's a great story to justify using an oak tree for Austin. And it's a gimme as far as any potential write-up for the oak tree-based logo goes. And neither historically significant oak tree fact made it into this one. Given how easy it would have been to justify? I'm 100% convinced that the designers had no idea about the historical significance of oak trees to the locale and that it all just happens to be a happy coincidence.

 

You, and @BrandMooreArt, assume that because local designers with an impressive portfolio worked on the project they must know what resonates locally and historically. And...that's not the case, really. I can find plenty of educated professionals around Tampa that are ignorant as to the history of the city, and what symbols would be considered important. I don't see why a degree in graphic designer would increase that knowledge base in a specific individual.

 

Again, had the design team known of the oak tree's historical significance in Austin they would have said as much in the logo write-up. It's a far stronger justification for the logo then "trees have roots, and we want to put down roots in the community" or whatever other generic platitude they vomited out there.

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1 hour ago, schlim said:


Thanks! I haven't really kept up with the intricacies of MLS design, I guess I knew the LAFC influence, but didn't know about Columbus, Atlanta or DC's examples. I've always thought the Sporting KC rebrand was a disaster, just inoffensive and 'meh' all around, but Kansas City loves it. I always try to think the love for the team has more to do with the game atmosphere in a soccer only stadium instead of cramming 8,000 fans into 70,000 seat Arrowhead, but you see the colors and logo everywhere in KC. Also, the Wizards name harkens back to years ago here when the only souvenirs you could buy from KC were cow or Wizard of Oz related, which kinda reiterates my point about Austin and guitars and bats. 

 

How much of Kansas City loving soccer now was the new brand, and how much was building an exceptionally well-run team and putting it in a nice stadium? I tend to think they could have changed the brand to just about anything; the point was making a big splash about a fresh start more than it was about generic stripes and an ugly monogram on a shield. (I hope this does not get me run off from these boards.)

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5 minutes ago, Digby said:

 

How much of Kansas City loving soccer now was the new brand, and how much was building an exceptionally well-run team and putting it in a nice stadium? I tend to think they could have changed the brand to just about anything; the point was making a big splash about a fresh start more than it was about generic stripes and an ugly monogram on a shield. (I hope this does not get me run off from these boards.)

I think it's a ton about the game experience, but as much as I hate everything about the logo and their colors - including the interlocking 'SC' - every fan I ask at least doesn't mind the logo, and many say they really like it. Again, slapping that logo on a team playing at Arrowhead in 2002 probably wouldn't have achieved the same affect, but Kansas Citians are undergoing a real pride of Kansas City decade right now, even if the team doesn't play in Kansas City. 

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3 hours ago, BrandMooreArt said:

 

why is that a problem? who cares if non locals dont get it? NYCFC is based off a subway coin; does that not work? who else would notice besides someone who has seen it often?

 

Oh, it’s not a problem at all.  Quite the opposite, I think it’s brilliant. MLS has some of the best identities in sports, American or otherwise.

 

But @schlim said the league “largely feels very generic”, and I was pointing out that was possibly because he didn’t get the local references.  The problem to which I was referring was his perception, not the identities themselves. 

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2 hours ago, schlim said:

as much as I hate everything about the logo and their colors - including the interlocking 'SC' - every fan I ask at least doesn't mind the logo, and many say they really like it. Again, slapping that logo on a team playing at Arrowhead in 2002 probably wouldn't have achieved the same affect, but Kansas Citians are undergoing a real pride of Kansas City decade right now, even if the team doesn't play in Kansas City. 

 

Shame that “SC” isn’t a “KC”.  Would bump them from the bottom of the league to near the top. 

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4 hours ago, schlim said:

I think it's a ton about the game experience, but as much as I hate everything about the logo and their colors - including the interlocking 'SC' - every fan I ask at least doesn't mind the logo, and many say they really like it. Again, slapping that logo on a team playing at Arrowhead in 2002 probably wouldn't have achieved the same affect, but Kansas Citians are undergoing a real pride of Kansas City decade right now, even if the team doesn't play in Kansas City. 

As you yourself mention, I think it's a lot of things that have gone into people being behind the SKC brand. One thing I'd bring up as well is the logo the preceded the rebrand. It was the most boring, generic crap I've ever seen. It wasn't even so bad, it's fun like Columbus' old logo with the construction workers jpeg. I also think there was a lot of "minor league" stink associated with the name Wizards, especially when they were playing at the minor league baseball park beforehand.

D1YiPGZ.jpg

 

2 hours ago, Gothamite said:

 

Shame that “SC” isn’t a “KC”.  Would bump them from the bottom of the league to near the top. 

The club is Sporting Club Kansas City (Sporting KC for short), and yet the logo reads as Kansas City Sporting SC and that's always bothered me. Dropping the Kansas City from the tiny real estate on the outline, and changing the SC to KC would be a huge upgrade.

 

And since we're on the topic of branding details that aren't obvious to outsiders, I thought it was interesting that SKC went with their somewhat awkwardly shaped logo as a bit of an homage to the original Wiz logo.

LsPY8S5.gif

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11 hours ago, 4_tattoos said:

So we should expect Austin to get an NHL team a few years after the MLS club kicks off?

 

The NHL worked in Columbus?

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11 hours ago, jgiff17 said:

What’s weird is that they didn’t use burnt orange 

With Houston using orange it doesn't make sense to be compared to another team in the same state. That's also why they avoided red and blue since FC Dallas use those colors. I also think even if they end up playing at UT they'd like to avoid any colors associated with the Texas Longhorns.

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I reached out to Steve Wolf for some more insight on the inspiration behind the oak tree. Here’s what he said

 

here is a link with more detailed info about how the oak trees inspired this design:

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/explaining-austin-fcs-logo-inspired-by-the-treaty-oak/269-587067116

It's more about the Treaty Oak, a 500 year old oak tree that is pretty famous down here. Also, there are oak trees EVERYWHERE around this city so that was a huge inspiration as well.”

 

i still cant make a decision on what i think of the actual logo, It’s starting to look like a piece of broccoli to me, but ill say again what i love about it is what it isn’t. And that brings me to this quote from the above article...

 

Butler's firm wanted something different for a logo. “Someone could say, 'Yeah, that's Austin, that's an armadillo, that's a guitar,'” said Butler. “These are the things we already associate with ourselves. And they've gotten played. They've been played. There's nothing wrong with them. They're true. But we're thinking of doing something that will stand the test of time.”

 

^ that is what Austin is all about and what makes it a special place. They don’t do the normal thing. And “standing the test of time” is the outlook you must have to make a great logo. You don’t hire Brandiose for that, you get my mans, Steve. Because being a great designer isn’t about your skills to render something, that comes to anyone with time. It’s about the ability to recognize a status quo and break it with reason. To punch through the obvious surface level stuff and get to a deeper level of meaning and truth. That is what this team was able to do and if that truth is symbolized in a peice of broccoli? So be it. I’m almost prepared to say that I don’t actually like the logo, but I do think it’s a great peice of design. Which you must be able to do if you are to critique it honestly and fairly. I think Austinites are going to embrace this more than those of us who are not there and that will ultimately be the only thing that matters

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On 8/24/2018 at 8:44 AM, cwilz305 said:

The crest itself is... serviceable. The situation behind it is very {censored} so this comment is just my opinion on the logo & other elements itself.

There are some good things going for it like:

  • The use of green -  As of the 2018 MLS season; only four teams (Columbus, Orlando, Portland, LAFC) out of the twenty-three current teams use a color that isn't dominant in shades of red or blue. It somewhat helps with the identity that they are going for. Under the right circumstances, black and green can work out very well. (I did leave Seattle out since they use blue and green, and LAFC does have red as part of their brand but doesn't use it to an extent like Atlanta)
  • The Badge - Honestly the shape is expected of an MLS team at this point. This will sound like dammed by faint praise or so but, it could be worse (New England). I'll explain the missed opportunity below.
  • The font - thick and bold like the state its in. It's fitting.

However, there are bad things going for it.

  • Black as a main color - Texas is hot and miserable during the summer! Since Austin is in the middle of Texas, It doesn't really get a nice breeze form the gulf. But since it doesn't stop other teams in similar situations, this complaint is minor.
  • White - At least add a white border between the green borders or have FC be in white. Or something. Or don't use white at all.
  • Badge shape - the coat of arms for Austin is a missed opportunity. it could had been incorporated into the logo or form the basis of the logo. At least it will help with the ummm..... "the bond between Club and City" a little more.
  • The Name - Austin FC? Thats it? This is America! We can't keep copy and pasting overseas traditions. I say embrace a nickname and put it on the badge! And quit it with the FC. if you're calling it soccer, use SC!

In the end, I say the badge in my opinion is a work in progress.

 

I will also say that MLS as a sports league needs to change their business model. Their current model no longer has a place since all teams are somewhat profitable and the US soccer pyramid can do better with pro and reg and have fan owned teams. But that's a discussion for another day since there are nuances for pro and reg ad ownership of teams...

Just to add to my own post after reading everything on this topic:

Please keep in mind these are my opinions based on what I observed.

 

Good things going for it:

  • Local Pride - the designers themselves mentioned the history of oak trees in Austin. Not doing other local stuff and the fact that there are no tree logos (actual tree shape since the Timbers logo uses chopped wood) in MLS currently helps out the logo a bit more. As to why the designers didn't mention it on the badge description baffles me. I'll let it slide.
  • Green Usage Pt. 2 - to clarify; it seems that their "Bright Verde" is distinguishable enough from the Sounders Light Green and the Timbers Forest Green. If or when they release the kits will determine how the logo works in full.

Bad things:

  • Missed opportunity alert - Rather than placing the FC, the designers could have designed the top of the tree as half a soccer ball. (Just my opinion, the longer I look at the FC, the more I'm annoyed by it.) By having the tree form a soccer ball, it kills two birds with one stone.
  • Tree - I cannot unsee broccoli. And I think the "compass" explanation is total BS corporate speak. If they're talking about the "bond between club and city" and planting roots in the city, going back to what I said above for missed opportunity, have the roots form a soccer ball or have the roots be silhouettes of the "eleven players" it takes to play soccer.

As I said before, the logo, in my opinion may have a few more bad things going for it but, it's still a good logo that can use more tweaking. I don't see this logo as "Keep Austin weird" but I see it as a work in progress. Now this question may be off topic, but I curious as to when they asked the locals & designers if they are transplants from other places or were born and raised around Austin and for how long they lived there. That alone can make a big difference between actual local pride and money grabbing. Although with whats going on currently....

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8 hours ago, cwilz305 said:

Now this question may be off topic, but I curious as to when they asked the locals & designers if they are transplants from other places or were born and raised around Austin and for how long they lived there. That alone can make a big difference between actual local pride and money grabbing. Although with whats going on currently....

 

the Butler Bros have been around since 2002 and i believe Wolf has lived in Austin as long as ive known of him, maybe 8 years? surely they've all been there long enough to be considered Austinites, and i think that will go over well with locals. and yes, thats going to be a key part in the team and identity being accepted in Austin. i don't see it going over well if the team had hired outside of the city because there is a tremendous amount of creative talent there already, and "going local" is kind of the city's thing

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On 8/23/2018 at 11:32 AM, GFB said:

 

A quick aside, this is a really good logo created by one of the best designers living today (Allan Peters). You should be ecstatic about this rebrand. 

 

His Target work alone is outstanding.

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On 8/26/2018 at 9:19 AM, BrandMooreArt said:

 

^ that is what Austin is all about and what makes it a special place. They don’t do the normal thing. And “standing the test of time” is the outlook you must have to make a great logo. You don’t hire Brandiose for that, you get my mans, Steve. Because being a great designer isn’t about your skills to render something, that comes to anyone with time. It’s about the ability to recognize a status quo and break it with reason. To punch through the obvious surface level stuff and get to a deeper level of meaning and truth. That is what this team was able to do and if that truth is symbolized in a peice of broccoli? So be it. I’m almost prepared to say that I don’t actually like the logo, but I do think it’s a great peice of design. Which you must be able to do if you are to critique it honestly and fairly. I think Austinites are going to embrace this more than those of us who are not there and that will ultimately be the only thing that matters

 

The work is well-executed, Steve Wolf and team are very good at what they do. I have no issue with the work (though I think the kerning in Austin would work better if it were a uniform distance away from the bounding box it's contained in, and the way the tree meets with the bottom of the shield is inconsistent with how the rest of the mark interacts within the tree, and now that you've said it looks like broccoli that's all I can see. But that's all personal preference more than anything). 

 

But I don't see anything in the work that I haven't seen before. Trees have been rendered in this exact visual style dozens of times before. My first thought was the Citrus Bowl logo from the 19 hundred and 90's. If you're talking about the simple act of using a tree famous to this city to represent the club as breaking status quo, in that case I can't see how that breaks status quo either. I'm almost positive you could find a famous tree in every city in the country that has historical value specific to that city that would sound good in a press release (which is why it's curious that it was left out of the explanation graphic they put out.) Even in just the sports world the Golden State Warriors wore a similarly rendered tree in the most recent NBA Finals, albeit with an alternate, non-primary logo. It's a tree like we've seen before inside of a shield, which for soccer is the very definition of status quo for that sport's design aesthetic. I'm failing to see how this is at all a piece of revolutionary work or reaching a deeper level. I suppose I disagree with your thesis. 

 

I guess my issue is they're robbing a team from my city (not Steve's fault, good gig if you can get it. I would've designed the logo if trust fund baby came to me. Don't blame him at all for taking the work) and it's almost more insulting that they've used a logo that could also work in Columbus or most other cities. Like I know bats and cowboy boots and other things are played out for Austin, and I guess they have a lot of oak trees, but also there's a reason every San Francisco logo uses the Golden Gate Bridge. Every city has oak trees. 

 

You know what would've broken the status quo and I'm 50% serious here - use a burglar as the logo, call the team/the supporters group the Thieves FC or Villains United or Austin Bandits. Own your nefarious origin. Every other fanbase will hate this team as long as Precourt owns it so own the troll role. Be the Oakland Raiders of MLS. A tree is almost so inoffensive and statement-free it's offensive. 

 

 

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