It’s been seven months since David Beckham announced his intention to bring an MLS team to Miami, and even though I’ve never trusted Miami politicians, I was excited because I love the game and would love to get my kids involved in it as I was since a very early age. So, I ignored the “Don’t trust Gimenez” banners – which proved to be accurate – and watched the press conference, joined my local official supporters group and shared the news with friends. Fast forward a few months and we are still in limbo. We have no stadium location (mostly because Beckham is funding this project privately, which means no commissions for local politicians and contractors), we don’t have a team name or even an identity. Needless to say, every other MLS team and city in the US is laughing at us. Now, for a couple of months I’ve been thinking about this issue and the possibility of taking action and doing my part to spread the word and at least get the ball rolling on this subject. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able due to my busy schedule, until now. Last week I had to travel to Chicago for a couple of days, so I realized it was the perfect excuse to disconnect from work, and use a couple of free hours to develop my ideas and build a Miami Team (if you check towards the end, you’ll see real photos of work taking place mid-flight). I challenged myself to develop a complete branding case study in less than a week, and here are the results…
But before I get into my case study, I decided to share a little background on ‘my story’ and connection to soccer. I figured it might give you a little more insight into how or why I decided to spend a couple of free hours working on this project.
I’ve played futbol my entire life – yes, it started as ‘futbol’ in South America – since I was a very young kid. It was my life! At school, at parties, at home, on the weekends, we played every chance we had, and it became more than just a sport very early. Then, as the years passed, I got better and had the opportunity to learn the sport. And not just to simply run after the ball or score goals, I was fortunate to learn theory, tactics and history thanks to amazing coaches and life mentors like Coach Cosme. What started as recess games, soon turned into competitive matches between schools and even U14 and U16 division teams. We had great coaches, practices, a team bus… we lived the dream!
What started as futbol, promptly evolved to football as I grew up, developed a broader vision and was able to hog the TV to watch international games and teams like Real Madrid, AC Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United – I’ve always been a Premier League type of guy. I continued to enjoy and learn more, and my love for the game grew stronger.
Then, when I turned sixteen, my family moved to Miami. And futbol or football quickly became soccer. Now, I have to admit that when I moved here, there was very little – or none – soccer activity. It was mostly a hobby or something that very few kids cared about. Of course, there was the school team and all that, but it was simply not the same. Soccer was still very new here and the MLS was… a disaster. The level of games and players was very low and unappealing.
But things have changed radically over time. Soccer has grown exponentially and believe it or not, is one of the most played youth sports in the US. Well, above the Florida state line at least. The new MLS is a lot more interesting and competitive now. The US National team is no longer the ugly duckling, instead, we’re the dark horse come World Cup time. And, the increasing amount of passionate ‘soccer heads’ around the US and Canada is exciting.
And then, there’s Miami… When I heard that Beckham chose Miami to build his team, that he would use private funds and contractors to build a stadium, or that he would be able to attract world class players to the city, I thought ‘done deal!’ Unfortunately, Miami is a very strange city and Becks has faced numerous ridiculous obstacles (mostly based on money, favors and commissions if you ask me). It’s been seven months and his proposals to build a world class stadium and city parks have been denied three or four times – yet a huge ridiculous and phallic building was recently approved. These issues have crippled the team development process and as a result, we don’t have a stadium, team name, or identity. As sad and embarrassing as this is, it also provided a blank canvas and an opportunity to share my vision of what a Miami team should be or look like.
So, here’s my branding project, as well as some insights and explanations. Hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t like it, I challenge you to spend time conceptualizing, designing and developing a similar experiment in order to compare our visions – I’m kidding. But not really.
::::: INTER MIAMI FC – CASE STUDY :::::
While doing some research on MLS and Miami teams, I discovered that many new teams have become strong brands with loyal fans and good aesthetics. Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, and the new New York City Football Club, done by my extremely talented friend Rafael Esquer and the folks at Alfalfa studio in NYC are great examples of this. (Congrats again, Rafael!) I also researched Miami teams, and although the Heat and the U share an effective identity, the rest of teams, to me, are pretty meh - I won’t even get started on the Marlins. This research helped me guide my ideas and decide I wanted something simple, effective and timeless, combining old and new elements. An identity that gets some respect instead of the usual laughs and mockery we are used to.
As usual, it always starts with the sketching phase. Whether I’m at restaurants, on the phone, or meetings, sketching the initial, good, and bad ideas is always helpful. This is where the obligatory elements and impulse ideas get released in order to move on.
When it came to the colors, it was simple. I wanted to combine Miami’s beautiful turquoise waters, our famous skies, and white, because we always need a little balance. Yes, I’m talking to you, South Beach! I also wanted to include a little more of the city, so I used the colors of the Miami Dade flag – or my interpretation of the green, blue, and white.
I must admit that the naming was one of the most difficult things to come up with. There was United, which represents our city and combination of cultures perfectly – and contains a little of English nostalgia as Becks has always been a United player. But that name is already being used by another Miami team, and also by MLS team, DC United. There were variations like Union, but again, Philadelphia is also using that name. Being that our city is known as a melting pot of nationalities and that our team would be very “international” I decided INTER (Short for International) would be the perfect name. Plus, it is a very universal word when it comes to different languages like english, spanish, french, etc.
When it came to the logo / shield, I wanted to include various elements, while maintaining a simple and effective look. No neons, no bevels, no drop-shadows, no metallics, no bullshit. I wanted to be new/modern, but also to reflect some history – yes, soccer may be relatively new here in Miami, but we also have to consider the combined common background of Miami’s population. I decided to include the ocean as it is a huge part of our lives and one of the elements that makes Miami special. You don’t believe me? Ask the guys in Salt Lake, Kansas City or Colorado :) The shield combines a rising sun/football with Miami’s unique ocean, illustrated in a simple and engaging way (during my Chicago trip, I had the pleasure of meeting a Design icon, Mr. Lance Wyman, designer of the iconic Mexico 68 Olympic Games, and some of his work used similar lines to the ones I was using, so I decided the ocean would stay like that whether I kept the concept or not as a homage to such a brilliant and inspiring Designer – look him up!)
Uniforms are a crucial part of any team’s image in any sport. It’s what connects fans and players, and yes, what generates a lot of income. So, our uniforms had to be on point. I wanted them to be elegant, cool, and simple. No cliché colors, no metallics, well, you know. I brought the team colors together to create three kits. A home (blue), away (teal), and a third one (white) for international competitions (because we will make it!). Now, I know many of you will yell, “Hey dude! Did you know Beckham is an Adidas sponsored athlete?” YES, I am more than aware of that. But to be honest, 1. I’m not a huge fan of Adidas jerseys. They seem repetitive and too ‘vanilla’. Nike on the other hand, has a lot more interesting options and pays more attention to the little details. And 2. Because it is my project and I want it to be Nike :)
When it comes to sponsors, I’ve heard people say we should go with something very Miami, or very ‘latin’ like Goya, Publix, Navarro, etc. SERIOUSLY? You’re given the chance to build franchise to represent the city, and you’re going with stereotypical crap (nothing against these sponsors). We need to change our mentality and think big. Think about the future and how we can grow, not stay stale. And if we are talking about innovation, future and interesting sponsors, what better company than Tesla to join Beckham and company in this adventure. Do you know anybody who hates Tesla?
I know our stadium site is a pretty sensitive subject so I didn’t go crazy working on it. Instead I used some renderings from the first proposal that was killed by none other than Royal Caribbean. And yes, I also brought in Tesla to help build the best and most advanced soccer stadium in the US. Take that, Marlins Park!
And of course, I had to include my dear friends at Southern Legion. These guys are not only cool and passionate, they are true supporters who dedicate many hours of their personal time to inform, promote and fight for our cause and right to have a professional team. These guys have been involved since day one, and have done an amazing job (and things are just getting started). I am a proud member of Southern Legion and look forward to sharing many games with these fellas soon-ish.
This was a love project, combining two of my biggest passions, futbol and design. Some people may like it, some people may find a reason to hate it, but hey, that’s the way it has always been, and haters gonna hate. To me, it was a fun and refreshing challenge that made me think and dig deep into my Miami roots, develop all my work from crazy ideas to complete executions, develop 100% of the project myself, work under very limited time that I set myself, and with no client or peer feedback (sometimes not as easy as it sounds). Overall, I am happy with the result, I honestly think it is an effective solution that works well, and last but definitely not least, I think Becks and Victoria would approve – If you are reading this David, the wife and I are free for dinner anytime.