Interview: Hyperakt’s Deroy Peraza On Branding #NYCFC

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Yesterday, KCKRS brought you a complete branding proposal for New York City FC, Major League Soccer’s twentieth team set to join in 2015, created by New York design firm Hyperakt. One of the individuals behind Hyperakt is Deroy Peraza, who graciously agreed to answer a few questions about Hyperakt’s intent with the unsolicited proposal, the thinking behind the design, and how soccer branding is shifting in the modern age.

KCKRS: How often does Hyperakt create proposals unsolicited? Why take on this challenge?

Deroy Peraza: We usually have several self generated projects going on in the studio outside of client work. We call them Hyperakt Labs projects. Some of these projects are products (like The Champions Ring and Neighborwoods), others are events (Lunch Talks), some are educational pieces (The Future of Car Sharing) , and others are hypothetical branding proposals (like the NYCFC project and this project on rebranding teachers). These are all passion projects for us which we work on because we love the content and feel like we can contribute original ideas.

KCKRS: Does the company have a history working in the soccer industry?

DP: I wouldn’t say we have a history in the soccer industry per se. Hyperakt helps changemakers tell their stories. Generally speaking, our clients are primarily in either the social or tech entrepreneurship sectors. We work with people like the Ford Foundation, UNICEF, Sesame Street, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, TED and GOOD Magazine.

I happen to be a huge soccer fan, though, and in my world soccer fits under our ideology of “meaningful design for the common good.” We have done data visualization work at Hyperakt for The New York Times Goal blog, Fox Soccer and ESPN Magazine. We’ve also visualized the entire history of the Champions LeagueMen’s World CupWomen’s World CupEuroMLS and Men’s Olympic Football on the The Champions Ring, which is one of my Hyperakt Labs projects. The NYCFC branding proposal is our first branding project for a sports team, however.

KCKRS: How is creating a proposal for a team based in New York different than it might be for another city?

DP: It’s just a bigger stage. New York City is the largest sports market in the country and one of the biggest in the world. It’s a city of tremendous history, diversity, energy, architecture, you name it. It has it all and it deserves a global football brand. New York City is home for me so I was designing for what will be my home team. I’d say that’s the primary difference. There’s a lot more passion there when you’re designing your own team’s brand versus someone else’s.

KCKRS: The design is significantly more modern than almost anything out there in the soccer world – is that a concern when it comes to acceptance among “traditional” soccer fans?

DP: It’s interesting that you feel it’s more modern than almost anything out there. I would actually say that it tries to go back to the days when marks were allowed to be bold and simple rather than being full blown illustrations. It’s an attempt to graphically cleanse the palette a bit, but it is grounded in some recognizable forms. The seal is one of the oldest forms in the visual language of branding, and while the shapes in the mark might feel abstract, they are directly grounded in two physical objects – the NYC token and the classic soccer ball. Maybe it feels modern because the landscape of American sports logos usually doesn’t allow for such restraint these days. Logos are usually rendered to death to feel glossy and 3-dimensional, leaving little room for symbolism or interpretation.

Fortunately, this being a self-generated exercise, I can allow myself the luxury of proposing a concept I believe in wholeheartedly. Approaches that depart from the status quo are usually met with resistance so I’m well aware everyone won’t love it. Whether traditional soccer fans like it or not will be an interesting social experiment.

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