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The U.S., Soccer, and Branding

Here at Show Your Logo, we know why soccer has not taken off in the Unites States like has in the rest of the world!  It isn’t the perceived notion that there’s more action in hockey and basketball, nor is it that you “don’t get the physical play as you do in American football.”  Both of these statements are false–soccer is both action-packed and physical. The real reason? The United States National Team has been screwing up their jerseys for years!

 

Before I get into the jersey situation, I need to share some relevant information about myself.  I am a Chicago sports fan: Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. (Props to you if you pronounced “the” as “da” at the beginning of each team name!) When you think of these teams I have listed (don’t worry about the ones I left off), the one thing they have in common is that their uniforms have stayed relatively unchanged for thirty or more years.  Yes, they may change to have longer shorts or pants, and the manufactures may have changed, but overall, the Bear’s uniform is still a simple mix of navy, orange, and white on a jersey with a navy helmet and that wonderful iconic “C.” The Bulls’ jerseys just say “Bulls.”  The Cubs wear pinstripes.  The Blackhawks’ Indian head is so iconic that you are not allowed to step on it in the dressing room (we’re looking at you Biebs!).  Even looking outside of Chicago there are plenty of uniforms that have stayed consistent through the years: The Yankees, Packers, Lakers, Celtics, just to name a few!  Lately there has been a trend to have retro jerseys.  There are also a lot of universities that have been going with some crazy uniforms.  The streamlined consistency of these team uniforms, their color schemes, and the stylized presentation of their branding makes them recognizable even to non-fans.

 

There are many soccer uniforms that are the same way.  Brazil has a very iconic jersey (or “kit” as it is called everywhere else in the world).  The Brazilian uniform is always a yellow shirt with green trim.  It doesn’t matter if Nike or Adidas is making it, those are their colors and that is their style.  The same goes for Argentina.  Their shirts are always white with light blue vertical stripes.  England, Italy, France, Holland… all have had jerseys that have stayed more or less consistent during the course of time.

 

Then there is the United States soccer uniform.  The only thing really consistent about our uniforms is that they aren’t consistent.  The colors aren’t even consistent!  Sometimes the blue is a royal blue, and other times it is a navy blue.

Each of these things is not like the other!

Each of these things is not like the other!

Please do not even get me started on the time they used denim! (See the 1994 away jersey).

 

From a marketing standpoint, this is bad for business. Like, really bad.  You want to build a consistent brand, and that includes the uniform.  If this was your logo being bounced all over, you’d be enraged at the inconsistency of the presentation of your brand. So why aren’t we Americans upset about how we are presenting ourselves to one of the largest sporting events of the world?

 

The uniforms have had some terrible designs.  There was the denim start design in 1994 (which while probably appropriate for that time really should never be acknowledged again), the sash design of 2011, the wavy lines of 1993, and that’s just to name a few. The U.S. team needs to start having a modern, youthful design in their look.  Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, we are a pretty young country. Shouldn’t our uniforms reflect that? Or better yet, what’s wrong with some simplicity? We’ve seen time and time again some fantastic examples of when less truly is more, so go all out! Or don’t! Just make it nice to look at? Please??

 

The United States National Team needs to get a consistent and moderately aesthetically pleasing uniform, and then the sport will really have a chance to catch on here.  If it doesn’t catch on, I will be blaming the years of inconsistent uniforms.

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