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Up till this yr, the town of Austin didn’t have a single main league skilled sports activities crew.

It’s arduous to consider, contemplating the wealthy material and neighborhood of the Texas metropolis, its worldwide adoration, and normal stature inside such an athletic powerhouse of a state. So when the MLS introduced that Austin can be residence to its very personal skilled soccer crew beginning within the 2021 season, it was a reasonably large deal.

But as thrilling as this information was, the strain was on. As Austin’s first-ever main league skilled franchise, all the things about this membership wanted to hit the mark and set the precise tone for the town. Its model id and narrative wanted to be pitch-perfect, and tapping the precise crew for the job was essential.

Photo by Erich Schlegel

A small company known as The Butler Bros set themselves other than the pack by way of their intimate connection to Austin and their distinctive work model. Founders Adam Butler (CEO) and Marty Butler (CCO) had been born and bred in Austin, they usually convey an understanding of the town and neighborhood to the desk as natives that others merely couldn’t.

“I’m homegrown,” Marty tells me, “which was an important differentiator for Anthony Precourt, the Austin FC owner, who was starting the team. When they were interviewing agencies and design firms, there were certainly some larger, established firms that they were looking at.” But Precourt and Austin FC President Andy Lochney understood their limitations as Austin outsiders themselves, with Precourt hailing from the Bay Area and Lochney from the midwest.

At the identical time, Marty and his crew have all the time embraced the worth of differing views and leaned on Precourt and Lochney’s factors of view as newcomers, notably within the discovery portion of the branding course of.

“Austin is such a growing community, so we see the value in new people coming in because of what they see and what pops for them,” says Marty. “We have all of these experiences, but what gets you going? That is what we call ‘radical collaboration.’ Where we’re willing to sit at the table to work with people who are not creatives, and invite them into that dialogue, and have them share honestly. That’s what we did to get to where we got. It was very much a team effort.”

Synthesizing the concepts and outsider POVs is central to the Butler’s work and was essential to the branding they created for Austin FC. The company is already composed of a small and various group of creatives that’s 60% feminine. But Marty is clear-eyed in regards to the limits of his crew, and there remained a must look exterior of themselves for a good broader perspective.

With this crucial in thoughts, The Butler Brothers have adopted the methodology of Think Wrong (from Greg Galle and John Bielenberg), an organization that champions an entire new manner of approaching a undertaking. The Butler Bros now make use of Think Wrong ideologies for all of their initiatives to disrupt typical branding. “It’s design thinking, with the intent to disrupt and break biases, open peoples minds, and get them collaborating,” Marty explains. Central to Think Wrong is what they known as “Blitzes,” the place people from all walks of life come collectively in a room to drawback resolve.

These Think Wrong Blitzes are additionally invaluable instruments for bonding and constructing belief between The Butler Bros and their shoppers. “If you spend a day with people, you will get to know them. You will know about their parents, about their lives, about where they went to school. There’s a ton of surface area that you can rely on later. It’s all a relationship business that we’re in. It’s humans working together, trusting each other, and being vulnerable. Creatives do that well by themselves in agencies and design firms. We just encourage everyone who may think they’re not creative to do it. Because guess what? Every person on the earth is born creative. That’s how we’re designed.”

For the Austin FC blitz, The Butler Bros employed 20 people with differing backgrounds, together with a UT girls’s soccer participant, an African-born artist and soccer fanatic based mostly in Austin, an expert soccer participant, Latinx activists, and different members of the neighborhood. “It was a very dynamic experience. I think we were there for like seven hours together—no cell phones!”

“This is an input into the work,” elaborates Jeremy Spencer, the Narrative Director for the Austin FC branding. “This is before we even start designing or writing anything. So it’s really to gain empathy and define who we talk to, create ways in, and get inspiration.”

“The big thing that came out is Austin is a collection of wildly different people, and that’s what makes Austin unique,” provides Jeremy. “The blitz really crystallized that this has to be a big tent idea, that has to appeal to the Latinx community, the artist outlier misfit type of person, the traditionalist Texas sports fans. As we started to develop things, that was a guiding post.”

The first order of enterprise for The Butler Bros after the blitz was tackling the large duty of arising with the membership’s identify.

Once once more, the Butler Bros seemed to crowdsourcing to assist establish the most effective moniker. “We created four different ways in with names, and shared them with the same group that was in the blitz, and then expanded that footprint to include even more Austinites to ask them what their preferences were and why, and what these names conjured for them.”

Ultimately, timelessness and sophistication dominated the day. “The Austin FC name wasn’t even always the favorite because people were like, ‘Oh, that’s so expected.’ But it communicated the inclusivity that it was for Austin. It wasn’t just a cool, hip mascot name. It was broader than that and classic. It’s just straight up the Austin brand.”

Molding the model narrative was a big step in establishing the membership’s total id and rounding out the model system. The Butler Bros landed on “Grow The Legend” because the membership’s rallying cry.

“We leaned on the narrative to provide that competitive might, that bravado, and that’s why the tone of it is ‘Grow The Legend’—it’s big, it’s bold,” says Jeremy. “It’s about growing the legend of Austin. It gets a little misinterpreted even by fans since Austin FC is brand new, but it was always meant to say the city’s legend that we represent. We didn’t come here to be this thing that was going to be legendary on its own. It was to add to the city that we love.”

Reflecting on what units Austin other than different Texas cities was essential to The Butler Bros in all elements of Austin FC’s branding, particularly throughout the crest. There’s a homogeny and predictability to the logos of different Texas skilled sports activities groups that Austin FC needed to keep away from.

“There’s a star in every one of these logos,” Marty says as he exhibits me the graphic above. The tropes are orange, blue, pink, and stars. It’s very ‘Lonestar State.’ And then take a look at the hippie within the center!” He continues, “We have a tree ordinance in Austin. You can’t just cut down a tree. If it’s a certain size, you have to get a special permit. If you cut it down, you could get fined. That doesn’t exist in Houston or Dallas; Austin’s a freak show. Look at the freak in the middle! It’s crazy, right?”

Two intertwined timber are an sudden emblem for a crew crest, however there’s an inherent energy, consolation, and even dominance evoked from the picture of a tree. “I don’t imagine people think of trees when they come to Austin, necessarily,” says Marty. “It’s a huge, important part of Austin, our beautiful oak trees that are everywhere, but it’s not necessarily the iconic thing. The thing that crystallized the tree for us was the story of the Treaty Oak, which is Austin’s most famous tree.”

Left: historic picture of Austin’s legendary Treaty Oak. Right: the second tree planted subsequent to the Treaty Oak.

The Treaty Oak is a 500-year-old oak tree, making it older than the precise metropolis of Austin and even the state of Texas. “It’s like an ancient citizen of our city,” says Marty. “That’s one of the things we liked about it. It was here before all of this stuff.” The Treaty Oak is the final surviving member of the Council Oaks, a grove of 14 timber that served as a sacred assembly place for Native American tribes earlier than European settlers arrived. In the Nineteen Twenties, it was even voted “The Most Perfect Tree in America.”

In 1989, the Treaty Oak was tragically poisoned by a vandal, sparking city-wide outrage and a mass communal effort to return collectively to put it aside. “The whole city activated around it. They brought chicken soup, they brought messages, they brought crystals, they prayed,” Marty tells me.
“One of the things that the arborists did to save it was planting a second tree that they had started to grow from the Treaty Oak as a clipping because oak trees share their resources,” Marty continues. “A young tree can actually push its resources to an older tree.”

Against all scientific odds, the town and neighborhood saved the Treaty Oak.

“The way they saved it was such a brilliant narrative,” Marty says. “That’s why when you look at the tree in the crest, there are two trees there. It fed the narrative of a city that supports the club and vice versa.”

“Design is important, but the narrative of why is everything,” Marty concludes. “That’s what really sticks with people and inspires people.”

The spine of what The Butler Bros achieved with their sensible work for Austin FC is their insistence on artistic collaboration and harnessing various views.

If Austin FC’s gamers can work collectively as a crew even half as successfully as The Butler Bros can, an MLS league title is imminent.

Brand Studio: The Butler Bros
Client: Precourt Sports Ventures
CEO, Founder: Adam Butler
CCO, Founder: Marty Butler
Creative Director: Erik Enberg
Narrative Director: Jeremy Spencer
Design Lead: Barrett Fry
Designers: Steve Wolf, Lauren Dickens, Jacob Carter
Production Design: Alicia Pak, Colin Butler, Ava DeVoe
Collaboration Managers: Jake Rutherford, Justin Johnson

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