A New Look for Cross-Conference

Cross-Conference original

Back when Joan and I started Cross-Conference, we didn’t sit down and say, “Okay, this will be the easiest url, this will be the best layout, this will be good for SEO, this is in line with our mission and brand.” We were concerned with our content, not our image. We incorporated improvements as time and money permitted. We brought up changing our “logo” once or twice, but it was never a priority.

The original icon should be familiar to our readers and listeners. It never varies. And it has served well enough–to the uninitiated, it isn’t player-specific or team-specific. But for WPS fans, 2009 is fresh enough that the year and team should be obvious. The legs belong to FC Gold Pride’s Allison Whitworth (who then did time with Atlanta and Chicago). The photo, by the way, was one I had taken myself.

In eleven months, Cross-Conference has come a long way. We are a blog and a podcast now, and we have expanded to other social media platforms as well. We have direction, character, and a voice. We know Cross-Conference better now, as do our readers and listeners. A couple of weeks ago, Joan made the aside that it’s time to start working on a logo. And I jumped at the green-light; it is time.

I’ll gloss over the creative process here. I am an out-of-practice artist, so the details are only astonishing (and embarrassingly so) to me. Suffice to say, inspiration took hold, ate up my time for days, and after some variation and much tweaking, resulted in the basic shield that is at the core of our logo.

We laid two ground rules in the creation of our logo:

  1. No ponytails
  2. Avoid blue

When I look through my twitter feed, the icons that stand out for me are the ones with the crests. I know those are for soccer. I can usually tell, even in small dimensions, who those icons represent. Crests and shields are very soccer (or rugby) specific in the American sporting landscape. A couple WPS teams missed the boat on that one (my FC Gold Pride being one of them), but Athletica nailed it–especially if you are local to the St. Louis area. Ownership was shady, but damn if they didn’t brand well.

Cross-Conference shield

The shield is perfect from a design standpoint. Historically, it serves two functions: to protect and to send a message. Heraldry is intended to be read. It tells you something about who you are dealing with. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. In Cross-Conference’s case, we decided that simple was best.

I wanted to avoid a shield shape that would be too closely associated with a WPS team (New Jersey, Boston, and Philly have very distinct shields in my mind) so I spent a good amount of time looking for a basic shape that was fairly triangular, incorporated convex curves, and allowed for creative variation.

Since a big part of the Cross-Conference personality is the NCAA/WCC/SCU-UP bias that we hold, I decided to draw on that for our colors. Santa Clara tends towards maroon and grey, Portland tends towards purple and gold, and both use white as a base. Incidentally, the West Coast Conference also uses the maroon-indigo-white color combination in its logo. I realize that these colors are also similar to the colors of the WPS and US Soccer logos, but that is a perk, not a driving factor.

I wanted to find some way to indicate the podcast, blog, and soccer facets of Cross-Conference, because those are the most important aspects of the brand. Initially, I was thinking of headphones for the podcast, but settled on the microphone. Instead of the quill that was in my head originally, I ended up passing by that and the pencil to a fountain pen. We nixed the inclusion of a soccer ball. While Cross-Conference is soccer-specific, it is not solely soccer, and the shield can carry the weight of conveying sport.

The combination of the colors and icons went through a number of variations. I wanted a balanced, unified combination of the colors without letting one “school” of color overpower the other. I was also determined to keep the microphone on purple (Pilots + Podcast = Joan) and the pen on maroon (Broncos + Blog = Ruth). The gold symbols unify the two “sides” of the shield and the grey “holds” it together.

Joan and I are both really excited to unveil and start using the new Cross-Conference logo as we head into Year Two. In fact, we were so excited that we jumped the gun, and fans of Cross-Conference on Facebook got to see the new look on Saturday. Today we will make the switch on our other platforms as well. Let us know what you think!

3 Responses to A New Look for Cross-Conference

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A New Look for Cross-Conference « The Cross-Conference Collector -- Topsy.com

  2. WoSo95 says:

    As a fan of heraldry since I was a kid, I really like the ‘story’ behind the logo, both the intuitive – microphone and pen – and the subtler details that make the viewer want to know more. Contrast with Sporting KC’s new logo, which draws from a lot of the same soccer history and design elements while managing to not say much of anything, and to be confusing on top of that (Sporting KC or KC Sporting? Kansas City Sporting, then? … nevermind.)

    Simple and distinctive. So hard to get that iconography right. (And why I’m not a logo designer.)

    Looking forward to what Cross-Conference has in store for year 2!

    • vRm says:

      KC’s new logo is some kind of corporate bullsh*t, isn’t it? Design has the potential to convey so much. I bounced some of the details off the heraldry expert that I know, just to make sure I wasn’t saying the wrong thing with ours. So props to our friend Little Bear, as well. :)

      Can’t wait to share what’s coming, too! We value your input, as always.

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