Sometimes Less is Less

For the first time since the creation of the MLS in 1993, New York City will host its own professional soccer team – The New York City Football Club (NYC FC) – starting in 2015. While news of the franchise was released on May 21, no information was given then or later about the team’s uniforms, logo, or colors, inspiring many designers to submit their own unsolicited proposals.

Hyperakt, a Brooklyn-based studio specializing in logo and brand identity design, recently received significant attention, praise, and criticism, for their vision for NYC FC brand identity.

Combining the navy and powder blues of the Yankees and Manchester City (respectively 25% and 75% owners of the of the NYC FC), Hyperakt looked to a classic NYC emblem, the old subway token, for the basis of their logo design.

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Discontinued in 2003, the NYC subway token had a hollow pentagon shape in the center, representing the five boroughs of New York. Since NYC FC will be exclusively representing New York City, unlike their future rivals the New York Red Bulls, who represent the full metropolitan area and operate out of New Jersey, it is important for NYC FC to embody and showcase a true NYC symbol like the subway token.

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“Everyone had the tokens in their pockets regardless of class, ethnicity, or gender. It’s a truly democratic symbol that was accessible and essential to virtually everyone. Those are the kinds of values I wanted to embed in this club’s identity,” said, Deroy Peraza, Creative Director of Hyperact, in an interview with FastCo. Design.

While some consider the minimalist design a refreshing departure from the cartoonish hyperactivity that dominates much of professional sports, others were less thrilled by the dialed-down approach.

Among the eight published responses on the FastCo. Design article’s site, none were particularly positive. One comment read: “I don’t like the minimalism. International football (soccer) clubs, (where the game was invented and perfected) are renowned for their classy, regal, logos (Manchester United, Arsenal, FC Barcelona).”

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Another responder may have summed it up best, saying: “… could be better, could be worse. I like the token shape being a part of it, but it’s missing something.”

If Hyperakt did in fact miss its goal (cough, cough), it may be an example of less failing to become the more it aspired to. Additionally, too much reliance may have been place on the historical and cultural significance of the pentagram. Highly referential designs like this beckon the question: to what extent can a successful logo rely on allusion, as opposed to existing as a self-contained image and experience?

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