AUSTIN, Texas — The Major League Soccer team that may start play in the Texas capital in 2019 went from a hypothetical to a brand Wednesday night with a logo and a name: Austin FC.
Precourt Sports Ventures utilized the event — billed as a party to thank fans for their role in helping the investor-operator group move closer to bringing an MLS team to Austin — to unveil the new identity.
A week prior, the Austin City Council voted to partner with PSV, which took control of Columbus Crew SC in 2013, on a $200 million stadium plan in north Austin.
Though the stadium won’t be ready by 2021, the agreement could lead MLS to green-light the Crew’s rumored move to Austin for the 2019 season — trading in black and yellow for a “bright verde,” black and white color scheme and a badge featuring two intertwined live oaks.
Adam and Marty Butler, principals with Austin design firm The Butler Bros, launched the brand before a capacity crowd of about 300 in an East Austin nightclub that included several PSV executives.
According to Adam Butler, his firm began working with PSV on the brand launch close to 10 months ago, shortly after PSV CEO Anthony Precourt announced a potential move from Columbus to Austin. The Butler Bros. team went through an extensive naming exercise, including the Austin Athletic name the league trademarked along with Austin FC a year ago. They settled on Austin FC.
“We tried some existing nomenclatures from different leagues around the world, we tried original things, we tried more American vernacular,” said The Butler Bros creative director Erik Enberg. He said when soul-searching for what resonated, “Austin FC, every time, came to the top.”
When asked if they feared the name would be too generic, Adam Butler countered with, “Is Austin generic? We feel like there’s a lot of equity in Austin as a brand. The tendency is to overdo it and be Austiner than thou. That’s a trap. And we walked right up to the line on that, more than once.”
The tree logo is vested with hopeful meaning for the yet-to-arrive club; Butler says the two trees together as one is meant to symbolize a “city and club” union that they’re hopeful that will arrive. It is adorned with eleven leaves, an obvious nod to the number of players on the field.
The color scheme includes a green (Pantone 354) that they chose to be distinctive from the Seattle Sounders FC (who use a neon-leaning “rave green”) and Portland Timbers FC (who use a deep forest green, along with an ax logo that might make for fun tifo when Austin FC first ventures to Providence Park). The green, of course, can be taken in part to reflect an ecological mindset that finds its ways into the city’s identity. (Indeed, some of the debate over the stadium deal included quandaries over whether the site should have wetland protection, as well as what LEED level stadium builders should aim for.)
The color scheme is virtually identical to the color scheme adopted by PSV in its #MLS2ATX campaign — a color scheme that found its way into the first stadium renderings released early in the campaign, when a downtown stadium location was being proposed.
PSV’s official statement termed the brand launch a step to get the team Austin-ready in 2019, noting that should the team be granted the final go-ahead to move operations from Ohio to Texas, “It will be imperative to launch with momentum and a presence to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the club.”
PSV still needs to lock down a temporary home for the team next March remain and deal with an Ohio lawsuit trying to force either a sale or an injunction to keep the team in Columbus, but with Wednesday night’s brand launch, they’ve determined what the new iteration of the team will be called.