NBC’s Hollywood Game Night. Pleated Dockers khakis. The Chevy Tahoe. Maroon 5’s music. David Cameron’s hair. People magazine. The new Wembley Stadium. Each the pinnacle of blandness in its field, and to these we can now add Major League Soccer’s new logo.
MLS can call upon graphic design’s best and brightest, yet the chosen logo looks like Don Garber ignored them in favor of fishing one from a $5-a-pop site. For all of MLS’ greatly debated strengths and weaknesses its logo was a non-issue. Yet MLS aggressively attacked its non-problem but delivered the equivalent of a mug of room temperature green tea.
Just why is it so bad? Let’s take a look at the logo itself and then its context.
The late, great Billy Mays hustled everything from Mighty Putty to the Big City Slider Station on his infomercials. Like any good huckster he never stopped talking; the words came pouring out of his mouth at such a breathtaking clip that you forgot about the actual piece of junk being sold.
MLS pulls the same trick here with their impressively overwrought and hyperbolic press release. Isn’t the point of a visual brand the fact that it’s, well, visual? Did Caravaggio strut around Renaissance Rome explaining the symbolism in his paintings? Don’t the most respected logos, like the Yankees’ interlocking “NY,” the Cowboys’ star, the Red Wings’ winged wheel, and MLB’s batter silhouette, speak for themselves?
Trust what you see, not what you read. You and I look at the crest and see a giant white space; MLS tells you that it’s a force that “brings you in and out of the MLS world.” No, that’s what my TV remote does when I land on Los Angeles’ KDOC and turn off a Chivas USA match after a few minutes. You and I see the crest’s three stars and think of Jake Locker throwing another pick in his Tennessee state flag-inspired Titans helmet; MLS tells you that they represent the hollow words “For Club, For Country, For Community.” You and I see an overuse of Photoshop’s gradient tool in the line forming the perimeter of the generically shaped crest; MLS tells you that the crest’s border represents the lines that mark off the field of play. Even Bradley-Wright Phillips would have a hard time scoring on a concave crest-shaped field.
You and I see a diagonal line resembling the pestle in the classic pharmacy symbol. Here MLS unloads its most powerful verbal diarrhea to tell you that this innocuous slash “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. It bisects the crest to create a ‘first half’ and ‘second half.’”