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.
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.
I love college football. It’s my favorite sport to watch. Saturdays bring me great joy in the fall. As of writing this post, we are days from the start of the first full weekend of college football and I am excited. As you know, another thing that excites me is logo design. On this episode of “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”, I want to highlight the work of Harley Creative – specifically their College Football Hall of Fame logo.
The College Football Hall of Fame (and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience) opened in Atlanta, Georgia in August of 2014. The Hall of Fame is represented by a mighty fine logo designed by Harley Creative. The logo is a football illustration with a series of ribbons/banner around it with the text, including the Chick-fil-A logo. I’m a fan of the composition of this logo. The text is warped & mapped to each ribbon well. It accomplishes everything it needs to without doing too much or too little.
I’m also a fan of their National Singing Day logo. Since the event was operating at the same place, it made sense to use many of the same elements. Love the typography work with the metallic-type effect on “National Singing”. I also love the illustrated pen being the i and singing the paper within the mark. These logos are well done.
Harley Creative is an Atlanta-based design studio that specializes in branding and graphic design for the sports and entertainment industry. They’ve done so much great work and made so many marks that I thoroughly enjoy. If I had to pick some other favorites of mine, I would mention the SWAC Championship, the Citrus Bowl, and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville to name a few. Harley Creative maximizes their skills in the sports design space to fantastic result.
Go check them out on social media if you want to be inspired by great design work.
Salute to Harley Creative!
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!
Welcome to the first official installment of a new series entitled “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”. In this series, I want to highlight the design work of others that I enjoy. I am a big advocate for giving flowers while people can still smell them. I believe loving design means loving designers. Seeing great work acts as not only inspiration but motivation. We should all share our appreciation for and to those who inspire us.
In this first official installment, I’d like to salute Torch Creative and their work on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) logo. My first time seeing the logo was when it was brought into the office by my friend and co-worker TJ, a graduate of UNO. It actually took closer inspection to realize that the O itself was designed to include the U and the N. This increased my fondness of the logo as I am a huge fan of clean and clever logos. TJ also showed off the UNO Maverick logo which I was also a fan of. The entire athletics brand of UNO gets two thumbs up from me.
When TJ took my friend William and myself up to Omaha on a road trip, he gave us a tour of the university. On this tour, we were able to see the beautiful on-campus applications of the logo. We attended a UNO hockey game, my first ever hockey game, which was played in Baxter Arena in Omaha. On the outside of the arena, you could see that mighty fine O shining brightly in the night. Inside, the store had the logo (and other brand elements) on all kinds of different apparel and other items. It’s one thing to see a logo on the internet. It’s a completely different and much more rewarding feeling to see how it is being applied on site in its natural habitat.
I actually didn’t find out that Torch Creative did this logo I was crushing on so hard until later. Torch Creative is a design studio based in Dallas, Texas that I have been following on Twitter for a while now. On June 19, they posted a tweet that stopped me in my tracks. So, I went to their website and discovered that I had somehow missed, in their portfolio, a project entitled “University of Nebraska Omaha Rebrand”.
The work of Torch Creative is a source of great inspiration. They done work for so many big time brands, events, and schools. A lot of their work lives in that beautiful cross section of design and sports. Even their sketches are absolutely phenomenal. Salute to Torch Creative!
Let people know you like their stuff. When you see design work (or any good work) you enjoy on social media, don’t just like but leave a positive comment. Let the people know that they are creating and sharing something that positively impacts you. I hope I am creating designs that are doing the same.
Full video on my YouTube Channel below:
I am listening to the classic NBA on NBC theme, “Roundball Rock” by John Tesh on a loop as I type this blog post. One of the greatest, most iconic themes in the history of televised programming.
Last year, the NBA announced that they were giving the Playoffs and the NBA Finals a new visual identity. While I have no issue with the change to the Playoffs branding, I think this new NBA Finals branding is the pits. As we draw nearer to the NBA Finals with each passing day, I felt the need to write about why I am not pleased with this change.
The Finals Logo Should Be More Different From The Playoffs One
I am not saying the logo isn’t well made. The logo is fine. However, the importance of the NBA Finals had typically been made immediately apparent by the logo. The sophisticated written wordmark with the trophy in the background was special. This new thing is way too similar to the new Playoffs branding.
In my opinion, there should be a stark difference between the logo promoting a first round game and the NBA Finals! Reaching the NBA Finals means reaching a special echelon in the sport of basketball. The logo should reflect such.
Loss of Personality
This whole movement by certain sports leagues (I’m looking at you NFL) towards standardization is so disappointing. NBA is also standardizing their All-Star Weekend logos, which is especially disappointing since the next one is going to be in my home state of North Carolina.
The NBA Finals logo has become so iconic to me and I will miss it. Listen. I understand what they are doing. I really do. I understand their desire for consistent branding and colors for the Playoffs and the NBA Finals. I just don’t like it.
But I expect, like most changes like this, we will eventually get used to it and accept our lack of control in the whole matter.
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.
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.