An Open Letter To Football Clubs

Dear Football Club Owners, Managers, and CEO’s:

I love what you’re trying to do. I love your mission statement about growing the game at a grassroots level, about developing local player talent, about providing a professionalized outlet for the game in your community, and I maybe even think its a little cute that you want to bring MLS to your town. And because I want you to succeed, here’s some free advice.

DESIGN MATTERS. And so does branding. A lot. It has been said that in this post-modern milieu design has become the arbiter of value and meaning. This may be overstating things a bit, but as FORBES has pointed out, we live in an ‘Era of Design’.  And in this era, as Adam Swann notes, “expecting great design is no longer the preserve of a picky design-obsessed urban elite—that aesthetically sensitive clique who‘d never dare leave the house without their Philippe Starck eyewear and turtleneck sweaters and buy only the right kind of Scandinavian furniture. Instead, there’s a new, mass expectation of good design”.

For clubs, this extends to such things as crests, logos, and websites. In essence, anything that represents the club or its ‘brand’ falls into this category. It’s worth spending money to work with a professional designer. Really. There are a lot of freelancers who do great work that would put together a crest for a few hundred dollars. And for a little more, you could have a color scheme and font customized for all of your publications. Its worth it. People notice good design, and laugh at bad design.

Unfortunately, what was good design in the 90’s may not be good design today. Your clubs should be constantly looking to stay relevant. To put it plainly, here are a few design principles to help you out:

  1. Cartoons are generally not good design unless you work for Nickelodeon or Disney. If you want to be seen as a pro club, look like a pro club.
  2. Star Wars was the peak of good design once upon a time. Taking branding cues from Star Wars is no longer good design.
  3. Branding your club with some arbitrary moniker is not good branding and will probably hinder your efforts towards good design. At one time nicknames like ‘Thunder’, ‘Force,’ and ‘Stars’ was probably considered GREAT branding technique. But times have changed. Monikers can be used well, but should generally identify the club with a larger more significant narrative. So monikers that reference a geographical situation, a significant local theme, or something similar can work.
  4. Simplicity is best. This is true of your logo/crest as well as your club name, jerseys, and just about everything.
  5. With very few exceptions: don’t use stars in your logo unless you’ve won a championship. Don’t put a soccer ball in your logo; if it’s not obvious you’re a soccer club then you’ve already failed.
  6. Do have a website, and really try to host it at a .com address. And no, yourclubfc.blogspot.com does not count. This site should have pertinent club information, a place to by tickets and merchandise, and should be updated with club news and scores regularly.
  7. Get a Facebook page and twitter. You want people to follow you and engage you, and social media is good way to accomplish this. Also, don’t forget to update once in a while. These tools do no good if they aren’t actually used.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s really just something to get you started. And if you want some examples of how to do it right, check out Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FCFC Tucson or Nashville FC.

Or check out Greater Binghamton Futbol Club Thunder FC, replete with stars, black and white soccer balls, and laser rays:

Greater Binghamton Futbol Club Thunder

I’ll still support you GBFC Thunder, but you sure have made it difficult to be proud to represent my club.

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