“Outcast Media” Roundtable — 2005 FC Dallas Re-Brand

You may remember at the end of the season we followed along with the FC Dallas Media Roundtable articles by doing an “Outcast” Roundtable of our own on the same topics.  We had so much fun doing it that we’ve decided to keep it going.

The Chicago Fire re-brand this week triggered lots of discussion about brands and made us think back to the FC Dallas rebrand of 2005. “Why not?” we thought, “Let’s roundtable that!”

So here we are. I’ve pulled together the roundtable and asked each member what they thought about the rebrand back in 2005 and what they think of it now.

Joining me for this bonus roundtable are Dan Crooke from 3rd Degree, Peter Welpton from The Kickaround and 3rd Degree, Nico Mendez, who is joining 3rd Degree as a writer, and John Lenard of 3rd Degree.

FC_Dallas_logo_medwide
The FC Dallas logo.

Dan Crooke – Writer 3rd Degree & MLSSoccer.com

Back in 2005

I wasn’t in Dallas at the time, but I was aware of the Burn from early FIFA games and when MLS (and the awesome shootouts!) was on TV in the UK. Contraction came and MLS disappeared from our screens for five years until Becks found Carson on a map and asked ‘who’s he?’

I guess the first time I remember seeing FC Dallas branding was 2008, I hated those weird angled hoops but the logo seemed decent. It felt more ‘real’ with the shield, and I think a good logo should be clean and easy enough to draw from memory.

Now

I love and miss the hoops (Except the 2008 kits) because FC Dallas could play anyone in MLS and you would immediately know who FC Dallas is. You weren’t checking to see if that’s the blue sleeves on red of RSL or FCD. The badge has worn on me a little, largely since it’s paired with a goofy cartoon mascot and says nothing about DFW. 

If there’s one thing to describe the way the brand has been used/treated over time, it’s unrealized potential. The last tifo I designed for the Dallas Beer Guardians is a prime example. We found a way to make Tex Hooper this intimidating badass beast from Hell and still retain the Dallas Burn flame so it’s recognizable. Not everything has to be the strict logo or look like a cartoon mascot for kids. 

The club also tweaked the colors used a few times and began using other fonts to the point where the stadium has so many different years of signage on display that it looks like a typography tester. I think LAFC’s visual branding is worse than FC Dallas, yet they can do amazing things with it and maintain consistency in their visual identity.

Peter Welpton – Co-Host, The Kickaround

Back in 2005

I will never forget the day I was sitting in my car when Buzz called to break the news.  Lamar Hunt had rebranded the Dallas Burn.

We knew it was coming, but there was all sorts of mystery as to what he would go with.  “Burn” had largely been derided and ridiculed over the previous years, a byproduct of a last-second Nike marketing toss-in.  Even fans who liked the original identity – Islamico remains the best mascot in league history. Truth. – understood that giving the club a less minor league baseball and more traditional soccer brand would be a good thing.  What no one was really prepared for was just how far traditional they would go. 

In overshooting that mark, Dallas Burn to FC Dallas remains the greatest branding and marketing blunder in Dallas sports history. An extraordinary missed opportunity.

The hoops weren’t the worst idea until they picked red and white.  Red and blue, red and black or pretty much any other combo would have worked, but the candy-cane, “Where’s Waldo?” look just felt like a costume, not a proper soccer kit. There are several stories about FCD’s new look being “the worst-selling in MLS history”.

The new crest was the least of the problems, if not a bit overly cliché.  The nicest touch of the whole announcement was the inclusion of the design element of the fire-vomit from the Burn horse on the blaze of the new steer. 

Then there was the new name – “FC Dallas”.  Utterly wrong for a host of reasons that haunt the club to this day. The whole combo, largely the push of then-GM Greg Elliot who drove a Mini Cooper and was oddly famous for his “obsession” of all things English, just screamed wanna-be. Somehow he’d convinced everyone that a deeply traditional soccer identity was the way to go.

Now

After 15 years of disdain for this rebrand has numbed and like everything else about the club, we’ve come to realize it is par for the course.  The Hunts aren’t big on style and place branding somewhere of equivalence in importance to office supplies.  FC Dallas certainly isn’t the worst brand in MLS, but like the club’s attendance, near the bottom. 

All that said, a lively debate could be had if Lamar’s original pick for the rebrand would have been worse: “Dallas Stampede”.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  

Buzz Carrick – Founder and Editor, 3rd Degree

Back in 2005

I was 100% in favor of a re-brand. I’ve always felt the Dallas Burn name, logo, and brand were terrible. Those initial MLS brands from 1996 felt like they were done by interns, other than the DC United one. So re-brand as an idea? Yes, awesome!  The FC Dallas execution? Meh.

The only thing I wanted to keep was the colors. Red, black, white, and the wasabi accents. I really wanted to keep those unique colors.  I loved the way the early FCD home kits were mostly red top – sometimes with a pinstripe hoop – and black shorts and white’ish socks.  Red/black/white – classic.

Hoops! Yes, I was on board. I suggested it. Again though, execution. My first suggestion was red/blue hoops with white shorts. 2nd was red/white hoops – which Greg Elliot picked – but I thought it was important to go with white shorts/socks.  That mostly white’ish look would have set them apart with the red/white hoop. Instead, FCD went with an almost all red look, which despite being hoops, is very similar to the other 500 all red teams.

Now the Hoops nickname? That’s a moronic idea. That never should have happened. That wasn’t my fault.

The name FC Dallas didn’t bother me. Mostly I thought it was a little on the boring side. I did say at the time it was a choice that in 50, 100 years will be considered a classic name. We’ve seen the rest of MLS and soccer in the US go crazy for the tradition soccer names since then, so people obviously like it as a concept. So while not exciting, I wasn’t complaining. I liked the FC on the front in the Spanish style, I do think that was a good choice. It wasn’t what I would have picked I don’t think, but it could have been way worse.

Lastly the logo. Oof, total misfire for me. I was really disappointed. I know about Frisco’s desire to see something un-Dallas, but the club is FC Dallas. Between the Dallas usage of the Pegasus and the Burn flaming/flying horse, the Pegasus should have been the animal on the badge.  On top of the wrong animal, I found the logo to be too cartoonish and not serious enough. It does look like a soccer badge, so that part with the shield I was fine with.

Now

I’m still a little pouty about the colors. I really wanted red/black Flamengo style hoops with white shorts. But, I do know that the only thing Lamar Hunt asked for in the re-brand was the red, white, and blue. So I have accepted and can respect the colors even if I don’t love it.  Maybe they’ll give me a 3rd kit someday.

I miss the hoops. I dug that design. All it needed was better execution. The poor FCD kit sales are related to poor rating and poor ticket sales, not hoops. By being first in MLS into hoops, FCD owned hoops. Any hoop was clearly FC Dallas. They were instantly recognizable. The pattern had become part of the brand. That’s a big win! That was the entire point of suggesting hoops.  

The name FC Dallas has grown on me. I can totally respect and get behind the choice of the classic name. This for me is the best part that will only be a stronger choice as time goes on. It doesn’t help the club sell itself with the noobs, but that’s a problem money and work can solve. What the club badly needs is a nickname to win out. Los Toros is my favorite.  I do wish fans/parents/people would stop referring to the club as “FC.” It grates on my nerves because of the implied lack of understanding.

The logo, ugh. I still think it’s junk. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want another re-brand for the sake of re-brand. I just wish they had gotten it right in the first place. I still think it looks cartoonish and doesn’t say Dallas to me. Texas yes, Dallas no.

TL;DR – If I were a multi-billionaire, I would buy the team, keep the name, switch back to red/black/white/wasabi, and design a new logo. And move downtown.

Nico Mendez – Writer, 3rd Degree and Dallas Sports Nation

General Thoughts

With the recent unveiling of the new Chicago Fire FC crest, some eyes have drifted to the FC Dallas crest.

There isn’t much dislike or like when it comes to looking at both the Dallas Burn crest and the current FC Dallas crest for me. Both look nice and they haven’t been the cause of much upset in the FC Dallas fan base. FC Dallas fans have come to concern themselves with the product on the field and the subsequent results which are fair assessments. Given that there was much news around the re-branding around Chicago, it is understandable that there is criticism with their new logo.

What does look nice about the FC Dallas crest is it presents the characteristics of a soccer team rather in comparison to the Burn crest. It looks like a proper soccer club crest. It is easier to see what the team’s colors are with the FC Dallas logo rather than with the Burn crest (the two majority colors are black and green but black and red where on the home kits and green and white on the away). The red and blue colors with the FC Dallas crest complement each other well and make it easy to establish one color (red) as the home kit and the other (blue) as the away kit color.

A question about the culture around Chicago is still to be determined despite the negative response to the Fire’s new crest. With FC Dallas, they are competing along with four other major leagues in the city in a sport that is still growing in the United States.

FC Dallas is working on establishing a fan-base around its culture which is focused on youth development. With FC Dallas, it’s a matter of having a solid and consistent set of fans that attend games (if able to), which it does have, and growing that fan-base. It’s a matter of taking what FC Dallas does have and what has worked well and further developing what works to continue to grow.

What is going to work and what will help FC Dallas grow? That’s a very big question that has lots of moving parts and no real easy answer. Fans and media each have their thoughts on what is best for the club and how to grow it but there is a nice balance between the leadership/front-office and input from the community.  

John Lenard – Writer, 3rd Degree and SocTakes

Back in 2010

Unlike most people in soccer media, I never played the game at any level until well after I became a fan and a writer. I remember being acutely aware of the Dallas Burn as a kid, but never really thought about the team nor looked into going to a game until the 2010 season.

The first pro soccer game I ever watched was the 2010 MLS Cup final, on a Caribbean ESPN affiliate from a stateroom on a cruise ship. The first game I attended was the 2011 home opener, a Brimstone Cup fixture against the Fire. My dad got two free tickets from work and gave them to me. I sat in Section 123, Row 27, Seat 13, (three of my favorite numbers!), and I was hooked instantly. I knew nothing about pro soccer, but I knew this was my team.

Now

My opinion has shifted twice over the years, initially thinking “yes, this is the logo of my team, it’s ours”, to some critical stances and a desire for a rebrand, back to appreciating the logo.

Yes, it’s not a fantastic brand on its own, but having participated actively in supporter culture for 6 years and counting, it’s taken on additional meaning to me. The crest and name may have originally had little history or meaning, but we’ve given it meaning now and I wouldn’t change a thing, other than picking a fixed color palette for once.

3 Comments

  1. “TL;DR – If I were a multi-billionaire, I would buy the team, keep the name, switch back to red/black/white/wasabi, and design a new logo. And move downtown.”

    This. All of this.

    The Pegasus would be much better. Many teams use bulls/longhorns as mascots. A Pegasus would stand out. You could bring back the Islamico mascot, but add some fake wings to the saddle, if the whole live mascot is your thing.

    I do like trying to stick to a traditional soccer feel with name and shield, though. The Americanized team names seem so amateurish to me.

    I do have to disagree that poor kit sales are tied to poor ratings and ticket sales, rather than poor design. I do not own an FC Dallas jersey. I have t-shirts. But the reason I have not purchased a jersey is the poor design. I’m not going to spend that kind of money on an ugly jersey. And I paid for a couple of Puma Arsenal jerseys, so that should tell you I have some pretty low expectations.

    I’m not a fan of the hoops, but it is the white that makes it so bad. Red and blue hoops would have been so much better. What I would actually prefer would be to have a traditional Arsenal look (I recognize my bias, but I’ve always loved that look). Torso and sleeves being different colors and then hooped socks. That would be a way of keeping the hoops without making ugly jerseys.

    And I know it’s beating a dead Islamico, but I really wish this team was downtown. The Hunts own the old Reunion Arena land. I don’t understand why they aren’t playing there. I go to a game once every three years on average. Give me the same ticket prices at that Reunion Arena location, and I’d probably be a season ticket holder.

  2. I can’t get too amped up one way or the other about the logo, which is probably an accurate way to describe the DFW area’s apathy toward the club as a whole.

    That said, I don’t think it’s the worst thing out there, especially with Nashville and Chicago trying to out-duel each other for worst crest.

    It would have been so much cooler with the pegasus though.

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