|A11 Professional Football League Co-Founder Steve Humphries, also the league's Vice President of Advanced Media, poses with one of the A11FL helmets last week.|
In the history of spring outdoor professional football, never before has an entire league’s teams had its branding more or less finished 13-plus months before opening kickoff.
In the history of spring outdoor professional football, never before has an entire league’s teams had “Oregon-style” uniform versatility.
Welcome to the A11 Professional Football League.
“The whole philosophy of building these brands was to come up with some amazing designs, to help capture the imaginations of the teams’ fans right off the bat,” said Steve Humphries, the A11FL’s Co-Founder and Vice President of Advanced Media.
The chance to great the A11FL’s team brands came in the form of a logo contest. Sixty-two artists were approached, the vast majority participated.
“It was a very targeted design contest,” Humphries said. “To our amazement, 45 of the 62 participated. It was an incredibly-high number. These were people who really believed in what we were doing, and have a passion for what they do. We were really lucky with that.
“I’ve been a big fan of sportslogos.net and Uni Watch, and I thought that there’s a lot of people who participate in those forums who never get the chance to design pro sports logos and haven’t been involved in sports design. They are incredible fans of sports design, and I wanted to give them a shot to design our team brands. We pushed a segment of our fan base who have exceptional graphic design skill sets.”
Among the 45 artists who participated, there were 151 submitted designs. Within those designs were more than 450 helmet concepts.
“From that, we chose the best art,” said Humphries. “The best art really did rise to the top.”
The goal in each case of team branding was to build a brand so it looked good on a helmet, and to have a versatile logo design that can be optimized for different color combinations.
And while each team will have “Oregon-style versatility,” each will have a primary uniform.
The A11FL team brand design team consists of Humphries, Dane Storrusten (Founder/Managing Partner of Soulcake Creative out of San Clemente, California), James Kuty (Founder of Kuty Kreative out of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) and Brandon Williams (Web/Graphic Designer out of Orlando, Florida). Storrusten’s winning brands were the Bay Area Sea Lions, Dallas Wranglers, Chicago Staggs and New Jersey Generals. Kuty’s winning brand was the Los Angeles Express, while Williams’ winning brand was the Tampa Bay Bandits.
“Dane and Kuty, they were very active in doing designs for multiple teams,” Humphries said. “I saw Dane’s Minnesota Vikings concept, and when I approached him, he was very interested in doing one or two designs, and he ended up doing five or six. His skills are just unbelievable. It’s just easy to work with him.
“Kuty, he had some outside-the-box designs that were really interesting. He won the LA Express and came up with a really clean design.”
Perhaps the most-recognizable A11FL brand is that of the Bandits.
“The Bandits were a really beloved team in the USFL. The fans still strongly identify with the USFL brand,” Humphries said. “Brandon did a spectacular concept logo for the Arizona Cardinals. We did a reconciliation process, and that logo went from a home run to a grand slam. Even though it was the winner of the contest, it probably increased in quality 200 percent.”
Obviously, there were two different challenges involved with the team branding – the brands made from scratch like the Sea Lions and Staggs, and the ones to be updated from the old United States Football League like the Express, Generals, Bandits and Wranglers (they were the Arizona Wranglers in the USFL).
“Regarding the USFL brands, in building our eight brands, we put up new team brands in each market to see if the USFL brands could stand the design test,” said Humphries. “We tried to do a really good job of modernizing the USFL team brands, making some changes, if necessary, but keeping the integrity intact of the team’s identity.”
Humphries said the A11FL team brands are the result of a relentless commitment to put together strong and fantastic-looking brands for the league’s fans.
“For me, as a founder of the league, I am placing an extremely high emphasis on quality team brands and fan gear and everything else,” he said. “I just absolutely love sports branding. It’s a passion, and I really want things fans will be excited to put on.”