Branding of MLS Atlanta begins

Atlanta United? Real Atlanta Phoenix? Atlanta FC Black Harts?

The process of crafting the identity of Atlanta’s MLS team began with the sending out of a survey to members of the franchise’s Founder’s Club earlier this week. United, Phoenix and Black Harts were pieces pulled from a combination of possibilities for the beginning of the team’s brand. When the team was introduced last April, owner Arthur Blank said that the team’s supporters would play an important part in deciding the name.

“The point of the survey is to get an in-depth understanding of how our founding members feel about how MLS Atlanta should be represented,” club President Darren Eales said in an email.

The survey consists of numerous questions and elements. Some questions focused on the demographics (age, gender, income, location) of members and their history with and level of interest in soccer and other sports. Another question focused on views of the city of Atlanta.

Toward the end of the survey, 14 questions are asked about the team’s name, nickname and brand. Questions in one section use a seven-choice scale — from strongly disagree to strongly agree — and include:

  • The (team's) icons/symbols should feature elements of Atlanta history.
  • The icons/symbols should feature elements of soccer history in Atlanta.
  • There should be a mascot (e.g., Freddie Falcon or Harry the Hawk).
  • The overall identity should convey tradition.

Another question asks for preferences between a European-style name, similar to Toronto FC or FC Dallas, or an American-style name, similar to Seattle Sounders or Chicago Fire.

Finally, using a four-choice scale for each possibility, the survey asks members what they think of the following 19 possibilities as part of the team’s identity. The survey stresses that these might not be part of the name, just associated with the team in some way: United, Premier, Phoenix, Centennial, Empire, Terminus, King, Legion, Resurgent, Black Hart, Olympic, Athletic Club, Football Club, ATL, Highlander, Rail, Firebird, Locomotive and Soccer Club.

(In case you’ve wondered, Black Hart comes from the chiefly British definition of “hart,” which is an adult male deer.)

“It’s important to us that our founding members are involved from the start and are active participants in helping us with the creation of the team identity — this was a special opportunity for them to engage with us in the process,” Eales said.

The results of the survey will be tallied by the team, and more surveys may be sent. The focus of those surveys hasn’t been decided.