A chat with OCSC crest designer David Brotherton Pt. II

This is Part II of our 10 Questions with Orlando City Crest designer David Brotherton.

Was this your first concept for an Orlando City design or did you have additional ideas that you liked as well?
I don’t even know how many designs I actually made, but I can tell you that the project folder on my computer is a few GBs size. In the end, I presented Orlando City’s front office leadership 4 different brand designs.

I originally started experimenting back in 2012, and even spent a good bit of time trying to rework the 3 lion badge. Through the process I came to the conclusion that a fresh start would be my recommendation. Then you go right to the skyline/building thing -see what might work … Try Lake Eola and swans and things … You do the flag thing, the coat of arms thing … You try letters … You try color variations. You can get some good designs. You can get some cluttered designs. But you’ve got to come back to the Lions. Orlando. Florida. That’s where it’s at. While I explored some other details, I kept coming back to a single lion and the sun as my conceptual motif.

The final logo wasn’t my first concept, but it was one of the early ones. After endless iterations along a spectrum of slight differences; I almost gave up on it. To say getting the proportions and weight just right were a challenge, would be an understatement. But i’m glad I kept at it and found the right balance to make it work, because, while it was a troublesome design idea to work out -it was in fact my personal favorite. Truth be told; the design wasn’t even exactly where I wanted it to be when I presented it to Orlando City. When I got their callback that they selected the concept, they also gave me some good feedback. So I took that opportunity to refine and improve what I felt it needed, while also addressing their notes. Where we netted out is what you see today.

We know some designers constantly rethink their work, is there anything that you might do to tweak the Orlando City logo if you could?

I’d be lying if I said i don’t rethink my work. I can’t pick up a menu, walk down the cereal aisle, or grab a beer without analyzing designs (insert girlfriend’s loving slug in the shoulder here too). As a professional designer, there will always be things that I “rethink,” but I can confidently say there’s nothing about it that I would “redesign” or “tweak” …that’s history’s job now. Subtle enhancements, minor color shifts, shield curvature –these things are bound to happen over the history of the team; as tastes, fabrication techniques and styles change. But I feel the larger challenge of developing a unique, timeless, iconic mark that represents a greater attitude was achieved and is here to stay –and I’m very proud of that.

Do you have design suggestions for denoting championships with the crest? If so, how would that look?

I personally think classic is best. A star centered above the badge for a single trophy, or multiple stars arced above it for multiple would be amazing. We’ve become accustomed to winning in our brief history, so expectations certainly are high. I just look forward to the debate over differentiating the stars from MLS vs. CONCACAF Champions League trophies. Maybe gold for one, silver for the other would work.

There is constant discussion regarding how terrible some of the other logos in MLS are. Have you thought about this and are there any specific ones that you would love to redesign?
Ha! -yeah. We could have a whole other article about that! 
The modern soccer era in this country has existed somewhere between Euro-wanna-be and Stop-patronizing-me. When it comes to the branding and packaging of the sport in this country; we generally had been at the mercy of the American Sports marketing machine—Folks who meant well, but didn’t necessarily understand or respect the nuances of soccer culture. I cringe when I look at some of the 1996 MLS badges, but back then you just accepted it. You felt like, beggars can’t be choosers …at least we have a pro league. We can suffer through the insulting designs.

But that’s changing. More soccer-minded decision makers are gaining entry into influential league operations and front offices. In my adult life, we’ve gone from college football commentators calling World Cup soccer, zero soccer stadiums, and football lines on the pitch –to the likes of Ian Darke, Taylor Twellman, Alexi Lalas, Ray Hudson, Adrian Healy, John Strong, Kyle Martino, JP Dellacamera calling matches, soccer stadiums in almost every MLS market, and shaming teams who still have football lines ghosted on their fields. These have all been positive steps forward; all progress towards professional respect. I see the team badges on that same arc of progress. KC’s was overdue, and Columbus just launched a needed rebrand. Maybe that’s another reason why i jumped at this Orlando City project: I couldn’t bear to be a season ticket holder to team who’s badge was potentially less than it deserved, then suffer through a decade or more until a rebrand launches.

I don’t think I need to call out any team in particular for needing a badge design –I think those teams, their fans and Twitter know who they are. While I would relish the opportunity to design another professional soccer team’s badge, it would be hard pressed to match how special the Orlando City badge feels.

Speaking of MLS designs, what do you think of the MLS Next logo?
I like it. It’s not what I was expecting. It’s grown on me. It is very minimal –but seeing it in practice, it works really well. When I think about sports league logos, my personal favorite has always been the NHL. It’s just so clean and simple. I think the new MLS mark can be compared most closely to that one. 

What’s your favorite swag application of the Orlando City crest? (What piece of gear do you like best?)

Wow -that’s hard to say. That’s like Sophie’s Choice. I have been blown away to see what MLS, Adidas and the Orlando City front office have done with it. I can’t say enough about the OC marketing team; Teresa, Alex, James, everyone over there …I knew the design would be in good hands. And to see how Julio and his team over at Say It Loud have handled the outdoor boards, is just really powerful. You always take into account avatars, merchandise, broadcast & stadium graphics as part of the creative process, but there’s no comparison to seeing the real thing. I really love how the mark embroiders on the hats. But I just got my jerseys in the mail and I gotta say the flat woven badge looks pretty amazing.

But for my favorite swag –I gotta go back. I had some prototype kits embroidered for the big presentation, one of which I set aside for my girlfriend. At the time I didn’t know if they would select my work, or that design. The shirt would either become a memento of the journey or piece of Orlando soccer history. Now, knowing which direction things went; I’d have to say that jersey might be my favorite piece. When I think of all the hours and energy I put into this –she was there with me for every minute of it. It’s not official gear, the final lion, or final badge –but it represents the dream chased, the work put in, the competition won. To me it’s like the 1 of a kind demo track of a huge hit song.

Bonus question:
Which do you personally think looks better, the home or away jersey?

They’re both sweet, but I gotta go with the home. Like they say; Start wearing purple, wearing purple, wearing purple…