Branding New York City Football Club

On May 21, it was announced that New York would be getting a second professional soccer team: the New York City Football Club--or NYC FC for short.

Branding New York City Football Club

At the announcement ceremony, the new team’s owners, Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees, didn’t reveal the NYC FC’s logo. The lack of visual identity inspired several designers to propose their own unsolicited designs.

Branding New York City Football Club

One of those designs, by Deroy Peraza of Brooklyn-based graphic design firm Hyperakt, imagines a logo partially based off the old New York subway tokens.

Branding New York City Football Club

The design, a pentagon inscribed in a series of concentric circles, draws on the color schemes of both Manchester City and the Yankees. Visually, it’s more abstract and sparse than the logos of many American sports teams.

Branding New York City Football Club

Peraza says that the pentagon, though somewhat unrecognizable to newer generations of New Yorkers, is regardless, very much part of the city’s visual heritage: “Everyone had the tokens in their pockets regardless of class, ethnicity, or gender…"

Branding New York City Football Club

"It’s a truly democratic symbol that was accessible and essential to virtually everyone. Those are the kinds of values I wanted to embed in this club’s identity.”

Co.Design

The Proposed Logo Of NYC's New Soccer Team, Inspired By The Old Subway Token

Graphic designer Deroy Peraza has developed an unsolicited branding package for New York’s newest soccer club, NYC FC.

On May 21, New York soccer fans welcomed news of the city’s next professional soccer club. Dubbed the New York City Football Club (NYC FC), the squad is set to join Major League Soccer as its 20th active team. It will begin its first season in 2015 and be based out of Queens in a still-unbuilt stadium tentatively sited in Flushing Meadows Park. The NYC FC will be operated by Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees. The details are still vague, but conspicuously absent from the press announcement was any hint of the new team’s visual branding.

The club’s owners declined to release the NYC FC logo--not even a color scheme--and gave no indication when they will do so. It didn’t take long for graphic designers, then, to speculate what the face of New York’s next great sports organization could look like. In the ensuing days, several unsolicited logos surfaced online, many of which drew on the visual identities of the NYC FC’s owners--Manchester’s powder-blue hue mixed with some variation on the Yankees old-timey font and, in some cases, pinstripes. Others incorporated landmarks of New York’s skyline, including the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge, with predictable results.

Hyperakt, a Brooklyn-based design studio known for their infographics and brand identity work, proposed something decidedly more minimal. Their logo does employ color and geometric cues borrowed from Manchester City and the Yankees but integrates them in a design that isn’t derivative.

The prospective insignia is rendered with a minimalist bent that’s a refreshing break from the zoo and fantasy mascots that brand most of America’s top sports teams. In their version, a pentagon is inscribed in a series of rings, with a dark blue band sandwiched between alternating powder-blue and white concentric circles.

Though it comprises only a few abstract elements, the logo’s simplicity shines through with real immediacy. Hyperakt Creative Director Deroy Peraza tells Co.Design that the scheme fell into place rather quickly. “This was one of those rare magical situations where an idea just visualized in my head and made sense. The more I layers I peeled back, the more it all made sense.”

The key component is the pentagon, Peraza says, which he lifted from the old MTA tokens. Discontinued in 2003, the coin-sized tokens featured a pentagon-shaped cutout at their center that alluded to the city’s five boroughs. Peraza rounded the sharp corners for an updated look, and left the body blank, filled in with an ultramarine blue. The result is broadly familiar, while sharply contrasting with other New York sports icons.

Still, the symbol almost seems like a counterintuitive choice: The pentagon token is a part of New York’s visual heritage, but it’s also very much tied to a time and place. Many New Yorkers would probably not even recognize it. But its specificity was intentional, Peraza explains: “Everyone had the tokens in their pockets regardless of class, ethnicity, or gender. It’s a truly democratic symbol that was accessible and essential to virtually everyone. Those are the kinds of values I wanted to embed in this club’s identity.”

Inspect the logo carefully, and it becomes clear why the pentagon initially seemed evocative of something. The shape, superimposed on a flat white circle, looks uncannily like the black panels of a prototypical soccer ball. “It amazed me that I couldn’t think of a single major world football brand that really owned the pentagon shape as a key part of their identity.”

Though sparse, Peraza believes the logo is robust enough to stand up against New York’s soccer past and its present. The New York Cosmos, the City’s last memorable football team, which folded in 1985, was glamorous in a way American soccer hasn’t been since. The team attracted some of the sport’s greatest stars, such as Franz Beckenbauer and Pelé, whose legacy as the world’s greatest futbolista continues unchallenged today. An integral part of the Cosmos verve were the all-white uniforms and technicolor logo, both of which were more about the team’s star--the blue-green-yellow Cosmos color scheme referenced Pelé’s Brazilian heritage, while the white uniform mimicked that of his club team Santos--than they were representative of their native city.

Talk of reviving the Cosmos name has been bubbling for some time now. Since 2008, it was rumored that the owner of Manchester City, a UAE sheikh, was looking to invest in a MLS team; up until last month’s announcement it was assumed that the floundering Cosmos brand would be relaunched. The city’s soccer fans, including Peraza, were surprised when the NYC FC was named the Cosmos’ successor. Still, Peraza was conscious of developing a unique identity for the NYC FC separate from the Cosmos. Any resemblances of the former to the latter are accidental, the designer says.

As for the present state of New York soccer culture, Peraza sees the NYC FC filling in a large gap left by the New York Red Bulls. The latter’s name is actually misleading--the Red Bulls are based in New Jersey. Their branding doesn’t exactly help matters; neither the energy drink name nor the lackluster logo lend themselves to close patronage.

NYC FC, on the other hand, is engineered to draw a citywide loyalty for its players and cloth. “It’s the only sports franchise in NYC with ‘city’ in its name, which is curious because I would argue that most New Yorkers refer to the city as "New York City" or "NYC" rather than just "New York." Peraza’s branding exercise reinforces that.

[Image: Score, Dan Dickinson via Flickr]

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16 Comments

  • Andrei Iancu

    i think the badge is rubbish, i can't help but laugh out loud at how silly it looks. i can make better in a few hours... if these people are pros and all they can come up with is a silly pentagon "to symbolize the 5 boroughs" inside a few circles, then wow!! it looks like a logo for some foundation or something... i'll laugh my ass off if they end up with this piece of crap.

  • Logo Design Service

    I must say this is one of the best logo For NY football team I have seen. They can design it more better.Custom Logo Design service

  • Andrei Iancu

    that's because the rest are even more rubbish than this one.. i'm so pissed off at how much praise this garbage gets and i don't even care for this soon to be team at all! it's like the story with the emperor's new clothes, this design is freakin naked, can't anybody see this?

  • DJ

    The Cosmos adopted their colors before Pelé arrived; it was a happy accident that they fit into Pelé's history with Brazil and Santos.

    A better example might be the Los Angeles Galaxy switching to a white kit with navy and gold trim when David Beckham arrived, to play off his days with Real Madrid. Even that one is a bit of a stretch; Alexei Lalas, who was running the team at the time, suggested a color change well before Beckham signed (in one of his earlier press conferences, he said "when I think of a galaxy, I think of the blue of space, and gold."

  • Jaymur

    I don't like the minimalism. International football (soccer) clubs, (were the game was invented and perfected) are renowned for their classy, regal, logos (Manchester United, Arsenal, FC Barcelona). They draw on the rich heritage of football (soccer) history. 

    I dislike a lot of the MLS team logos because of this reason. A lot of them are "cheesy" or too much like other sports leagues in the U.S. with names like "Earthquakes." And, like I said, I don't like the minimalist look...minimalism should have died in the 70s. It screams "I'm too boring of an artist to come up with a creative look." Nope. Don't like it. And, while I'm at it...Can we stop with the team names that sound like fictitious corporation names from some work-conference, brand-naming, brainstorming exercise? You know, "Dynamo" (Houston) or "Impact" (Montreal) and "Fusion (Miami)." We need to class up the league with some of the tradition inherent in the game. But, hey, what do I know...I'm just a fan. 

  • lucas

    Impact was the name of Montreal's team long before it entered the MLS (same with Whitecaps from Vancouver). The names go back to the 70s, at least, and were very likely not work-conferenced brainstorming exercises at all.

  • Joe Nicklo

    Not sure the younger generation and recent transplants will make the connection between the MTA tokens and the logo. A lot of people have likely never seen them and are only used to the MetroCard. 

    Nonetheless, I think it's a "decent" logo. I'm not floored by it.

  • Ed Ward

    agreed its nothing spectacular, could be better, could be worse. I like the token shape being a part of it, but its missing something