How do you judge how rich a football clubs history is? Success on the field? Iconic players? Diverse and distinctive fans? Like most subjects within football, opinion is divided on which of these is the most important, one way of measuring a club’s cult status though, is whether they inspire an overseas tribute act.
Following Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake’s example, Manchester City’s billionaire owners have funded MLS startup New York City FC. A collaboration with the New York Yankees, it plans turn the Manchester club into a global brand.
This new venture has created huge interest in the world of branding. With no official logo announced yet, many fans have summited their own football logo designs. The idea of a yet to exist club having fans may seem odd, but highlights just how much passion has been stirred in the community.
These proposed logos have been varied in quality. In reality though, no footballing badge either side of the Atlantic is perfect, both English and American styles have their flaws. This new badge presents the perfect opportunity to blend the two styles together, the chosen emblem needs to have:
In a league where the young teams are franchises and teams can literally move cities, this can be difficult. Many chose to borrow pedigree from established clubs, integrating features into their football logo.
Chivas USA line up with an almost carbon copy of their Mexican counterparts, but Real Salt Lake opted for more subtle references, such as the crown and regal lettering. If they do choose to cherry pick from City’s badge, New York will have to be more restrained. They need to generate a strong sense of community spirit, which cannot be done by being a mini Manchester.
Leading on from the last statement, it has to be close to the hearts of the fans, something which the area stands for. This is the forte of English clubs, whose badges have evolved over time, reflecting their character and history.
Liverpool FC’s crest originally just featured the liverbird, an old symbol of the city. Over time though, it developed to include the club motto, Hillsborough memorial torches, and a star for every European Cup victory. For all this history though, it lacks a few practicalities, which is why it received a slight pruning this season.
Just like every successful global brand, it needs to be reproduced easily. Either though professional means, digital printing, embossing etc, or just a scribble on schoolbag. Many American sports teams opt for this approach, with easy, three colour designs and 3D effects.
Everton recently tried to redesign their badge around these principles, but faced a fierce backlash from the fans who saw it as too cute and cartoony. Football fans can be a conservative crowd, altering the crest is a risky strategy.
By far the best submission for New York City football logo is this one from local design firm Hyperakt.
- City and the Yankees wear sky and navy blue respectively, which combine to lend pedigree and produce an eye pleasing colour scheme.
- The pentagon represents the five boroughs of the city, with the whole design looking like a subway token.
- An overly American design would be off-putting to potential English fans. This design is simple, but in a European way, like the ever present facile badges of Bayern and Inter.
New York will have difficulty producing an emblem that meets all the above criteria without alienating at least one group of people. European and American fans have their differences, but if this venture can span the continental divide, it will be one of marketing and branding’s finest hours.