Atlanta United FC’s name is crappy, but its branding game is surprisingly on point

Yesterday, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and team owner Arthur Blank were greeted by a group of 4,000 eager fans at an event to unveil the official club crest franchise logo and colors of 2017 expansion team Atlanta United FC.

While we can acknowledge that Atlanta United FC is an absolute and unquestionable dud of a team name, Atlanta may not be the disaster that many feared. Four thousand people showing up to a branding exercise for a team that’s still two years away from existing is no small feat, and the team has reportedly already received 21,000 deposits for season tickets for its inaugural season.

Atlanta United is hotter than a termite on a swamp frog’s ass … or some other colloquialism I assume a Georgian would use to describe temperature.


A photo posted by @ludacris on

Hell, it even managed to get local cultural icon, esteemed thespian and expert thrower of them bows Ludacris to show up to this thing.

It’s important to have Ludacris around for anything that matters in Atlanta. The city’s number three commercial export — behind delayed Delta flights and gravy — is hip-hop, and Ludacris is as big as it gets for Atlanta (when Future doesn’t want to show up, Killer Mike won’t answer your calls, or the Migos are in jail).

After all the traditional pomp, circumstance and fried food stuffs of the unveiling ceremony, Atlanta got post-modern and took to Instagram for a genuinely innovative way of explaining the details of the club’s branding.

Along with the team’s primary Instagram account, a series of others were created to give fans a deep-dive on the club’s “DNA” and identity. To save you precious time, battery power and data plan usage on your phone, I’ve done all the leg-work for you.

Let’s see what United is all about, beginning with the ever-important badge colors.

download (16)

Not to sloppily mix sports metaphors, but these colors are a home run for Atlanta. When asked about the choices and a possible connection to other Atlanta teams, Arthur Blank (who also owns the Falcons of the NFL) had a great response.

“It’s not a tie-in to the Falcons at all, but it makes sense because a certain amount of coloring already built into the stadium.”

“Certain amount of coloring?” I see you, Arthur Blank! Everyone knows that pandering to the local ethnic communities is a cornerstone of MLS franchise development, so saluting the “strength and power” of black is perfect. As of 2013, 54% of Atlanta residents identified as African-American. From entertainment to education and business, the city is in many ways the cultural capital of Black America, or at least #BlackTwitter. It’s about time we got in on this pandering business. If America is lucky, Atlanta United FC will shape itself into an ebony dream club and become FC Black Folks by default. I might apply for a job.

As so beautifully illustrated above by locals T.I., Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz and Trinidad James, the city of Atlanta really loves gold. It’s possible that this love has some relationship to the previously stated demographic figures. Let’s move on.

Next up, a look at the elements of the team’s logo, starting with its outer circle.

download (17)

The stripes at the center of Atlanta’s crest supposedly represent these “five pillars of character,” which is a bit silly and misleading. The five pillars of Atlanta are Reconstruction, Coca-Cola, Usher, Chicken and Waffles. Everyone knows this.

download (18)

If you think the reasoning for there being an “A” in the middle of Atlanta United’s logo was obvious, it’s because you didn’t take a Marketing minor in college, dummy.

download (19)

Great use of “The A.” It lets me know that, at some point, Arthur Blank may stand in front of the supporters section, tell them “I’m on it! Straight up, if you want me, you can find me in The A!” as he leads the Terminus Legion in the greatest rendition of “Kryptonite” Atlanta’s ever heard.

The biggest knock against Atlanta’s branding is its use of “United,” a term traditionally reserved for a new club being formed by the merger of two or more other clubs. If you were hoping for a more interesting rationale from Atlanta, you will be disappointed.

download (20)

This would have been a great opportunity for Atlanta to introduce some lofty and noble club motto – something modern and in tune with the community. Had they asked me, I would have suggested “Watch Me Whip. Now Watch Me Nae Nae.” It’s poetic, life-affirming and could have gone a long way to finally eradicating the wave from American soccer stadiums.

Possibly worse than being “United” as a soccer team with no history is pretending to be an American “Football Club” in 2015. There’s nothing “football” or “club” happening in MLS. Most fans understand that, and I’m not sure why the pretend game and living in ye olde days of yore is still necessary. Get a name that’s more honest and lets fans know exactly what they’re getting into. Something like Red Bull New York.

download (21)

Overall, Atlanta United FC’s presentation is impressive. There’s lots of potential for the team to connect with the city in some meaningful ways, like dope halftime concerts, extra greasy (pronounced “gree-zee”) concession stand options, and maybe even winning a game or two if they feel like it. Welcome to the party, ATL!


Here’s where you can catch us on TV:

Want to know what’s on right now? Head over to our show lineup page.