After many months of planning and deliberation, New York City F.C. were ready to forge forward in their quest for an identity. As is always the case in soccer, that identity begins with the team badge.
Their parameters were simple; NYC FC sought a design that would represent not only the team and it’s heritage, but the City of New York as well.
That search led them to the doorsteps of designer Rafael Esquer — a person who knows a thing or two about capturing the essence of New York City.
“New York City F.C. reached out after seeing the ‘Made in NY’ symbol I had done for the City,” Esquer tells EOS.
‘Made in NY’ is a City initiative that looks to support New York’s burgeoning film and television industry, digital and theatrical communities. From their design to their execution, the project has received accolades across the board — a fact Esquer is proud to boast.
“In only a few years, the ‘Made in NY’ mark has became iconic and synonymous with New York City,” he says.
While his ‘Made in NY’ campaign made him an immediate favorite for the project, Esquer is no stranger to design in sports and entertainment either. He teamed with Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka to introduce the new logo and jersey design for the NBA’s Houston Rockets some years ago. He also collaborated on designs for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Still, New York City FC presented a different challenge.
“For the NYCFC project, the goal was to create something as simple, memorable and graphically powerful to celebrate this milestone in the history of this city,” he explained.
What emerged were two designs that certainly pay homage to the City’s lineage.
On one side, you have a badge in the form of the New York City Shield, proudly displaying the colors of the City flag — even going so far as employing a ‘Gotham’ font for relevance. On the other, the classic circular design is made to emulate tokens which once served as currency on local transit systems which are widely considered the life blood of “The City That Never Sleeps.”
Even the design behind the club letters bares meaning.
“There is a concept behind each one,” Esquer explains. “The tri-color monogram joins two colors of the flag of New York City, orange and white, with the sky blue of the Manchester City identity to suggest the family lineage to MCFC. The intertwining of the colors and the letters in the NYC monogram alludes to teamwork, strategy, harmony and unity.
“The monochromatic option brings NYC together as one. The letter forms are geometric and balanced set against the navy blue of New York, encircled by a sky blue to reference its relationship to Manchester City FC.”
Esquer drew several historical and local inspirations for his work, and began sketching ideas to meld the right formula together.
“The badge had to be authentic, timeless, and unique to NYC, and inclusive of all five boroughs,” Esquer explains. “Five boroughs, one city.
“We all wanted to create a New York City Football Club badge meant to be worn with honor and pride. Being a proud New Yorker, my mission was to represent New York City as a strong, bold, collaborative community deeply rooted in and proud of its history. I wanted to position the NYC FC badge as genuine, authentic and timeless —- very New York City and, at the same time, with a presence to stand on its own in international contexts.
“Also, the badge had to work in various media and formats.”
Esquer held close communication with NYC FC officials throughout the design process, but became a bigger part of the project as the time to present drew near.
“First, designers don’t work alone,” said Esquer. “We work in collaboration with clients as well as with other creatives. The key for a successful design solution is mutual respect, a common goal, and full understanding that each one is the expert in their field.
“Once the two final badges were identified, I worked closely with the NYC FC design team on the final touches.”
What emerged were two unique, but distinct badges that brought together all the elements NYC FC were looking for; badges with a New York identity and a nod to the club’s roots.
“I really go back and forth between them, which is precisely what makes the choice [for the fans] interesting,” he says. “There are elements from each one that I like: the one contained in the shield shape is unique to NYC. It represents pride in its history, and no other team in the world has the same shape. The circular one is more urban and the circle is, without a doubt, a powerful shape.
“What I love the most is the monogram. It’s quite challenging to come up with a fresh lock up for the three ubiquitous letters: N, Y, and C.”
Growing up in Mexico, Esquer grew up a football fan and understands the passion involved with a club’s crest. He holds it dear with his own team — Liga MX side, UNAM Pumas. That love of the game — and passion for design — has made this one of his most cherished projects to date.
“I’ve been lucky in my career as a designer,” he recounts. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with renowned international clients in the Sports and Entertainment fields. In sports, I teamed up with Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka to design the NBA’s Houston Rockets new logo and uniforms. In 2002, we collaborated again to design Olympic uniforms for four nations for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The collection was later acquired by the Olympic Museum in Switzerland. In the Entertainment category, I collaborated with respected musicians like Björk and the late George Harrison, as well as with two of Mexico’s most beloved singers: Chavela Vargas and Guadalupe Pineda.
“The badge for NYC FC is perhaps the most visible project to date,” he says. “Despite the great challenge and responsibility, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I’m ready to do it all over again for any sports team that has the foresight to use the power of design to add value to their brand. They know where to find me!”