Wordmarks, slashes and stars - here's what all those ideas really mean - do they work for you?
1. Wordmark - Ostensibly, the New MLS Logo (NML) has no visual allusion to soccer. There really are no other soccer (and for our Euro-snob followers - football) league logos that eschew an obvious reference to soccer; whether it's the much maligned soccer ball , cleats or white center lines (a personal favorite of ours). Sure there's an "S" in that word mark that stands for "Soccer" - and nice of MLS to point that out to us all - but if you are trying to grow the brand, should you not reference your brand? Which brings me to the next point. If you type MLS.com, then you are taken to the real estate multiple listing service. There is nothing in the NML that distinguishes MLS from the real estate industry. So, the NML could just as easily be the family crest of three time champion Marv Schlabotnik's (not his real name) record breaking year for real estate sales in Florida. Is it distinctive enough to promote the "brand" of soccer?
3. The Slash - that '"refers to soccer's speed and energy. The slash begins outside the perimeter and drives upward at a 45-degree angle to illustrate both the nonstop nature of our game and the rising trajectory of our league. Oookaaay! As my esteemed colleague over at Prost Amerika, Luke James, remarked "The trailing leg makes it look like MLS DOES have a leg to stand on and is also a nod to the European origins of the game and its fine tradition of tackling!" That little kickstand does appear to stabilize the top-left heavy logo.
4. Three stars - no, not a reference to MLS expansion into Tennessee. These three stars represent "the pillars of our brand": "For Club"; "For Country"; "For Community"". Now, while that might sound very altruistic, we cannot lay this motto at the feet of MLS, since the self-same sentiment was originally shared by American Outlaws in Portland. Come on MLS - did you really pay for three PR firms (yes, I said three) to "come up" with that? For the most part Luke likes the new logo - and I prefer his idea that the 3 stars represent the 3 trophies: Supporters Shield, MLS Cup, and the US Open Cup.
5. The Perimeter - "The perimeter represents the lines that mark off the field of play". Erm - the NML is not rectangular. Next!
6. The First Half and the Second Half: "The first half contains MLS and the three stars. The second half is an open white space that brings you in and out of the MLS world". One has to step back and admire to this wonderfully verbose PR-speak to aggrandize a dull logo, the second half of which is empty - not unlike most of the Earthquakes' games this season.
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On the other side of the slash, in the second half as it were, there are a couple of reasons to love the New MLS Logo. The NML is clean, simple and easily transformed into team colors - each team contributes to the brand - though perish the thought that one day all the teams will be assimilated into the MLS-collective, and be forced to use this logo, perhaps filling in the empty half with a local moniker.
The NML works especially well with the new Earthquakes logo, and kudos here to the Earthquakes for setting the trend with their new shield and three word motto: Unity. Devotion. Heritage. The Quakes jerseys would look much better with a third star above their crest - perhaps it's time to adjust their slash to the same upward trajectory as MLS?
Of course, some say, clean and simple means dull, and the NML was defined by www.hottimeinoldtown.com as "the flexible, meaningless logo of the future". What's the answer? Taking the lead from MLS itself, then future logos would be fashioned by homegrown designers, designers who yearn for the chance to design in Europe. In all likelihood, the future of the MLS logo lies in the hands of Designated Designers, many of whom will have returned to MLS after plying their trade in Europe - home of all prestigious design centers.
The New MLS Logo will undoubtedly remain, and Kit Nerds are rubbing their hands in glee, saving their pennies to buy all of the 2014 kits for cheap at the end of the season. In the immediate future, within the perimeter of this discussion of club and country, it's always a game of two halves. What's next? With a nod to the future, I need to take a slash (wink). Ooh - perhaps this marketing stuff really works...