When Orlando City Soccer got the news they would be moving up from the USL to the MLS, the club knew they had better get their logo game on par with the rest of their soon-to-be Pro soccer competitors. To achieve that, they collected submissions from a number of local agencies. One of those agencies was Three21 Creative, who I worked with on this proposal.
The most important thing to accomplish was the design of the primary logo. The whole project would be for naught if the primary mark was weak, but on top of that, we also wanted to impress the team with a larger branding strategey. We wanted to develop a secondary logo, word mark, home and away uniform, and an idea for a marketing campaign.
1. Create primary logo
2. Create secondary logo
3. Create custom wordmark
4. Create uniform design
5. Create marketing campaign
1. Keep the elements that will work for the team in the MLS.
2. Evolve the identity to reflect a sense of pride, professionalism, and MLS quality.
3. Continue with lion mascot.
4. Keep shield containing shape.
5. Keep general color palette (but explore new colors).
I decided to change these identity characteristics:
1. Use 1 lion instead of 3 for stronger, simpler design.
2. Change “Soccer” to “Football Club” for more European brand.
3. Include a star in logo represent a USL championship.
UNITED SOCCER LEAGUE IDENTITY
LION LOGO REFERENCE
Knowing from the start I was going to do a lion based logo, I began collecting a bunch of my favorite lion logo designs. This part of the process was not for "inspiration" but more as an exercise in what NOT to do. I wanted to create a logo that was of the same quality of these designs, but in order to create an original mark I needed to have these on hand so I knew what directions had already been executed and explore other ideas.
After some consideration of doing a full body lion, I decided it would be best to do a headshot and crop it into a shield. This would be a more pleasing composition and better reflect the old logo.
PRIDE PRO MOVEMENT FLORIDA ROAR! CHAMPIONS HEAT CONFIDENT BEAUTIFUL STRENGTH
At first, I hated the red, gold and purple colors and wanted to change them. After discovering a picture of the Magic Kingdom lit in blue and purple lights, I thought it could work wonderfully for the soccer team. We could keep purple and gold, but replace the red with light blue and make a fresh palette that was a subtle nod to the city’s most recognizable landmark and brand. I also liked how it could be representative of water, which covers central Florida with all the rivers, lakes, ponds, and pools.
Although I made a concept with those colors, the red and purple started to grow on me. I realized the problem was the specific swatches, especially the gold they were using which was really tan. I selected new swatches that worked better with each other and were more attractive, starting with purple. I wanted the purple to be a medium value; something that wasn’t too annoying or feminine and not so dark that the jerseys might look blue or even black when players started to sweat.
While the gold Pantone might be considered an “old gold”, a flat brownish color, I imagine it changing to a metallic gold or even a gradient whenever possible. I would love to see a metallic ink or nylon thread used on the uniforms.
I made sketches of lions trying to infuse more Florida personality into it. I was close to doing a forward facing lion with palm tree leaves in the mane, but thought that would be too cheesy. Maybe it would work for the USL, but not the MLS.
I wanted the lion’s face to show a certain amount of confidence. With the mouth closed it would have been boring and with him roaring would have been over the top and cliché’. I thought the subtle growl was just the right spot and turned about 7/8 to create a little more depth than he would have if just a flat side profile.
The shapes in the mane were drawn hinting at the idea of water (if i went with blue) or fire (if i went with red) as some organic, free flowing shapes that were in motion rather than just being hair. The white highlights are drawn according to the star being the light source.
I felt the old shield didn’t communicate the right personality visually, or our personality words of "pride" and "professional". The lines needed adjustment, so by giving the shield tall straight sides it accomplished that. I kept the bottom and top of the shield lines the same, but the new taller shape was much stronger and masculine.
The decision to play with the key line and blend the lion’s mane into the shield was purely aesthetic, but it provides a unique execution and makes the lion feel a bit larger, not so constrained by it’s borders. This is an artistic decision and shows that my style of design is not just “problem solving”. At some point, you need an artistic spark, and some sexiness.
This logo would be a supporting mark that would be seen on the sleeves of the jersey and on a lot of apparel. I wanted this logo to be more Orlando specific rather than nickname specific so I felt a circle, or an “O” would be a great base to start with. The stripes I used here I planned on using on the uniform all along as a mnemonic devise that would always make it read as the Orlando soccer team’s logo and not some generic Orlando mark.
AND ONE MORE THING. . .