With the surprising demise of The Alliance of American Football, my plan of creating more logos (and videos) for potential AAF franchises was cancelled. However, from the ashes of that idea came a new idea that would explore the cross-section of sports and design in a creative way: the Fiction City Football League.
Wikipedia describes a monogram as:
A monogram is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol.
I describe a monogram as an (hopefully) epic fu-sion-ha of multiple letters within a creative mark, representing a person, place, or thing.
The first four logos the Alliance for American Football revealed were a big hit with me. The Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Orlando Apollos, and Memphis Express all have outstanding brand concepts. The next four revealed continued the trend of great design work and brand ideas.
The Arizona Hotshots had the first logo I saw from the new batch. The overall concept is inspired by the standard fire department shield design you frequently see. The Hotshots feature illustrated pulaski axes crossing each other, surrounded by flames below. One of the things I truly appreciate about this design is the subtle “AZ” that you can see in between the axes at the top. As a designer, I love seeing little touches and references like that incorporated into designs. Meaning in design is very important.
The Salt Lake Stallions are bringing that horsepower with a very sharp stallion illustration. Continuing the trend of hidden letters, you can see the S in the design below the horse’s face. The mane, as is the overall illustration, is energetic and bold. This horse has an attitude and a confidence that speaks to what the Salt Lake team is trying to be about.
The San Antonio Commanders logo pulls from the history and a major landmark of the city. The iconic Alamo is depicted above the sword, which points upward and onward. The angle and the perspective make the sword active, as if that would be the way it would be held by someone commanding an army to battle. The Lone Star of Texas is placed below the sword. The entire concept looks like it could be a military patch. This is all very well done and comes together very nicely. It speaks to the location in an outstanding way.
The San Diego Fleet goes all the way in its Naval theme, from the design of the logo to the name of the franchise. The naval ship and the chevron are tributes to the Navy heritage in San Diego. The strength of the franchise is evident in how their brand is designed. The ship is coming at you, with its sharp edges, symmetrical construction, and light shadows.
According to the Fleet website:
“The colors and typography are unique to professional athletics, mirroring those of Navy ships and the signature San Diego sunshine and Battleship Gray.”
With all 8 of the teams’ names and logos now unveiled, my excitement for the first season of the Alliance of American Football is at the highest it has ever been. I love that the team brands don’t seem generic. The logos are professional and high caliber while also being unique, fun, and creative with meaning. Excellent job to everyone involved.
From the moment it was announced, I’ve been impressed with the rollout of the Alliance of American Football. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is a new professional football league, that was announced this past Match, to premiere in February of 2019. Over the course of past few months, the AAF have unveiled coaches, player signings, and cities that will host teams. But recently they finally started to reveal what I’ve been waiting to see: team names and logos.
The first logo I saw was for the Orlando Apollos. First and foremost, I was pleasantly surprised that the mascot for the Orlando team wasn’t something generic. You could tell that thought went into it, as is demonstrated in the introduction video. The logo itself does a fantastic job in visually representing the story they are trying to tell with the franchise. The illustration of the marksmen is well done within the O. They describe the Apollo as the Greek god of sun and light, which fits for an Orlando, Florida based team. The color orange is typically associated with warmth, heat, sunshine, and enthusiasm so it fits well here. I’m also a big fan of the “precision marksman” pointing his arrow east.
The Birmingham Iron is a very strong name for a franchise. It’s also a uniquely appropriate name for a franchise in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and was nicknamed “The Pittsburgh of the South” because it served as a primary iron and steel industry center. The name, as well as the branding, speak to the history of the city and toughness the team wants to exude on the football field. The color black is often associated with power so the color scheme of black, steel grey and silver works well within the story of the brand. The iron football is an excellent illustration that uses the different shades of grey and some white to represent the iron material. The word IRON is strong and pronounced to really draw your attention to the kind of strength being shown in this mark.
The Atlanta Legends also decided to pull from their city’s history. Atlanta is and has been home to many legends in many different industries (in and out of the realm of sports). From the old gold crown with the football in the negative space to the choice of purple as a back drop, the Atlanta Legends have an outstandingly royal look to match their brand story.
The Memphis Express want you know that they are going places and fast. The story they want to tell is one of speed and breakthrough. The plane is breaking through the E, leaving a trail behind it. The letter E seems to be in movement as well. The entire mark is not only moving forward but upward in their goal of gridiron success. According to the Memphis Express page on the AAF website: “Under his leadership and that of GM Tim Lewis and Irby, the Express is all about the pairing of precision and urgency. Memphis moves swiftly, purposefully, determined to move forward, to raise the bar and earn respect every day.”
I am loving the AAF rollout for each team and so far the logos are all great. You can tell a lot of thought went into these and I am excited for the next stage: team jersey designs!
Making A Mark: Fall Football
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Fall does not arrive officially until September 22nd. However, one of fall’s greatest pastimes has returned to our lives: football. The college and professional football seasons have begun and I am very happy! Football, particularly college football, is my favorite sport to watch. On this episode of “Making A Mark”, I attempt to design a logo that represents to upcoming season of my favorite sport.
The moment I saw Brandon Moore’s Staubach’s Coffee brand on Twitter was the moment I discovered a brand new level to fantasy football. In 2017, I was invited to participate in my first ever fantasy football league. His Staubach’s Coffee brand inspired me to create an entire brand for my fantasy football team, the Stroll City Strivers.
The very first thing that struck me about the brand was the creative name of the franchise: Staubach’s Coffee. I’ve quickly learned the importance of a great fantasy football franchise name. Staubach’s Coffee is a delicious, ingenious combination of the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and the American coffee company Starbucks Coffee. After you get done marveling at the magnificent name, you get to the logo. The star (hehe) of the show is the illustration of good ol’ Roger in the classic Cowboys helmet in the center. The name surrounds the illustration with a star on either side. The texture over the design enhances the classic feel of the overall brand.
Also, it wasn’t just the logo that inspired me. Take a peek at the #StaubachsCoffeeForged hashtag on Twitter to see how Brandon brought the franchise alive on social media. There were starting lineups, game results, top performer highlights, game ads, and even uniform concepts! This whole project is another example of when design and sports meet to provide me with such motivation and entertainment!
Brandon Moore is a Graphic Artist in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area that currently does work for the Miami Dolphins and New Miami Stadium. His brand identities are awesome and I often refer to them when I am trying to present my own. I, personally, wish the Oklahoma City Thunder would call Brandon and tell him to brand the team. He already has a great presentation on his Behance that would uplift the visuals of the franchise to new heights.
Salute and thank you, Brandon Moore, for your work!
Last year, I talked about my dislike for the decision the NFL made to standardize the Super Bowl logo. I was a big fan of the personality shown in the old logos. So, I decided to start a design series in anticipation of the then-upcoming Super Bowl 50. I continued that with my Super Bowl 51 design. This year, after much struggle and many deleted concepts, I arrived at my version of the Super Bowl 52 logo.
Super Bowl 52 will be held at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, the very first thought I had was to try to incorporate the unique shape of the stadium architecture in the logo design. Deciding how to incorporate the shape proved more difficult than anticipated. I mistakenly tried to jump right into Adobe Illustrator and play. After failure and frustration were achieved in vector form, I took a step back and decided to go to pencil and paper. Sometimes you have to just stop and start over instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole – especially, when you’ve created an obscene amount of layers with no solution in sight.
Once I recalibrated and created a new concept on paper, I felt a lot better about the possibilities. In 2018, I’ve pledged to do more pencil and paper work – not just for rough ideas, but drawing full concepts before opening Illustrator. With the Super Bowl 52 concept, I finished my idea and then analyzed it. I drew guides on the drawing, which helped me see how I would want to construct this on the computer. It is important to determine as much as possible before opening Illustrator. The drawing, with guides for construction, proportions, and angles, helped give me clarity before assembling the vectors.
The hardest part of designing these Super Bowl logos – actually, logos in general – is achieving something I feel like could even stand in the same room as those that have come before. I’m not comparing myself to other designers, positively or negatively. It’s about the work. It’s about creating something that has a worthwhile polish that will appreciated and accomplish the goal. I was constantly looking at the Super Bowl logos that have come before, while reviewing what I had done for 52. I arrived at something I felt comfortable enough showing to the public.
Case Study: Stroll City Strivers
The intersection of sports and design is a beautiful place. My favorite sport to watch is football yet this season was the first year I had ever participated in Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is where you are the general manager / owner of a virtual gridiron football franchise . You draft players and manage your lineup from week to week, trying to best other virtual teams in your league. But first and foremost, you have make a name for your team – literally.
The Name & The Tagline
Coming up with creative names is one of my favorite things to do in life. I know some people do parody names or utilize creative football puns. The Stroll City Strivers are my team. Strolling refers to the tradition of performing synchronized dance and step moves to music. I learned how to when I became a brother of the MIGHTY Iota Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at North Carolina A&T. Speaking of Kappa Kappa Psi, the Fraternity motto is “Strive for the Highest”. I also present a workshop at conventions called “Strolling & Striving In The Brilliant Light of Brotherhood”. So, naming my team the Stroll City Strivers and having #StrollAndStrive as our slogan just fits.
Figuring out how to visually interpret strolling in a logo presented a challenge. Also, designing a mascot logo in general presents a challenge for me. I usually like to create more minimalistic, symbol type brands. I don’t consider myself a particularly talented illustrator but I do like to push myself when I can. I took a photo of myself mid-stroll (“throwing a K” as we call it) and put it in Adobe Illustrator. The pen tool and I went through the photo and created vectors of the most essential parts with some creative license. I chose to use various shades of blue to highlight certain features and shadows.
The first pass of the logo and the second pass of the logo differ mainly in the text used. I posted the initial version in the Makers of Sport Slack community for feedback. Who better to get feedback from on my fictional franchise’s branding than designers who work with actual school athletic departments and professional teams. I was given some tips, including giving my wordmark more weight. I revisited the text, choosing a new font and altered it to give it some personality.
Huge salute to Brandon Moore, whose Staubachs Coffee team social media graphics served as inspiration for me to create some for Stroll City.
I love logos. I love sports. The results from the intersection of these two passions usually makes me very happy. In particular, I loved the Super Bowl logos of the past that gave each year’s game a particular personality and mark. Starting with Super Bowl XLV (2011), the NFL decided to standardize the Super Bowl game logo so that only certain elements changed.