Branding New York City FC

NYCFC should learn from the mistakes of MLS’ past, develop unique, authentic identity
by Nick Chavez   |   Monday, August 12, 2013

Blue City – column on New York City FC (NYCFC) & the NYC area soccer scene.

It is no small thing to establish a soccer club, especially one that will compete in the top-tier of the American soccer pyramid and will be representing and playing the world’s game in the Big Apple.

That is why New York City FC’s owners must develop the branding and identity of their club with the utmost delicacy, ensuring that the personality will be unique and resonate with the people of New York City as something authentically theirs. NYCFC should try not to become a corporate coat-hanger of either the Manchester City or the New York Yankees world-famous brands.

Based on responses to questions posed by media members by both NYCFC/Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano and NYCFC Director of Football Operations Claudio Reyna, NYCFC is well on its way to accomplishing that.

“New York City is going to have its own personality," Soriano said. “It’s going to be a team on its own.”

Coloring the kit

It would appear that adopting the colors of either Manchester City or the New York Yankees is not in the plans of the club if the team is truly going to be unique, although NYCFC’s website and temporary MTA-esque emblem color-scheme of sky blue is giving us mixed-signals.

But NYCFC should strive to create a more unique, unaffiliated color scheme as a way of building its own identity. Stepping away from sky blue and pinstripes would be an important, and very visible, step in that process

Nicknames and team names

During a Facebook administered Q&A session with fans interested in learning about the direction NYCFC will be taking, one fan asked Reyna, “Has a nickname been thought up yet for NYCFC?”

To which he wisely responded, “I like the idea of our fans developing a nickname organically. We'll let the supporters decide, but we are listening. NYCFC will create its own identity that represents NYC on and off the field. A true soccer club for New York City.”

It would certainly save the club the trouble and risk of creating a poor nickname like those of MLS’ darker days (Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz). New York City FC is a classic, clean, authentic-sounding name and no additional mascot is needed.

If anything does surface, finding a nickname organically would be the best route. It’s tough to say what it could be now, seeing as traditional nicknames (Manchester United as the Red Devils, Chelsea as the Blues) can stem from color schemes, which NYCFC has not officially established yet.

Crest design

The question of a crest design is a trickier subject. Should NYCFC go with a classical looking crest similar to those of the European giants of over 100 years of existence, or should they go with a more modern, MLS-style badge?

There’s already been several crest designs created by various graphic artists, though it is not clear whether any of these ideas are officially being considered by NYCFC. The team would benefit from a a more classic, historical/traditional look that channel’s New York City’s rich, unique history.

It will be interesting to see what NYCFC decides to do with their brand, but it seems that they will look to deliver an authentic brand of which New Yorkers can embrace and be proud of.


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This is the longest-running column focused on the only team representing the 5 Boroughs in world football: New York City FC. Long may its supporters continue to make history.