Denton Diablos: Deliberate Design
8 months ago, this club didn’t exist. It was just an idea bubbling inside the minds of a couple of guys in North Texas. Michael Hitchcock and Damon Gochneaur tossed around the idea of starting a soccer club in Denton, Tx. They knew they wanted to grow the game in Denton and founding a NPSL side seemed like a great step. So, this past summer, they took the plunge and founded the Denton Diablos.
Usually in our Uni-Formity pieces, we’re discussing branding that has long been in place, sometimes several years. The Diablos are still in the process of finalizing all their branding and represent a great opportunity to discuss the developmental process that all new clubs have to go through. How do club founders decide what colors they will wear, the badge that will be on their chest, and the numbers on their backs? Every step along the way requires deliberate choices and ignoring that process typically results in generic kits, crests that are not taken seriously, and merchandise that won’t sell. Clubs can make or break their future depending on how those first steps are taken in brand development.
For the Diablos, it was a deliberate, thought-out process. According to Gochneaur, one approach was the use of focus groups. These were used to identify “a brand that was strong, evoked immediate emotion and would allow us a lot of flexibility and creativity in bringing it to life.” The choice of Diablos came from “the alliteration, to the cultural ties to Denton’s Day of the Dead festival, to the aesthetic appeal.” And having a name was only the first step. Next came the process of creating the crest, a process that took 2-3 months and one that produced 5-6 different iterations. Rather than tracing inspiration to other clubs and badges, Gochneaur and Hitchcock researched every image they could find of devils, demons, and other related material. The club eventually decided to go with two crests because it allowed them to “create some great looking merchandise and logistically solve a lot of challenges that come with intricate crest designs.”
After finalizing the name and crests for the club, choosing colors, kit design, and manufacturer were the next hurdles to clear. Different color combinations were considered, but red and black were chosen as the best combination for the brand. The manufacturer was an easier choice: “I [Gochneaur] wore Puma Kings nearly 30 years ago when I played, and have been a fan of their brand ever since. Puma is a globally recognized brand that has supported soccer at all levels, with teams wearing their logo in nearly every professional league in the world. So when the opportunity presented itself to sign on with such an iconic partner, we felt like it was a great fit.” Due to time constraints with the upcoming 2019 season looming, the first kit will be more stock than custom, but the club has plans to bring more flair in upcoming versions. The big decision maker for the club owners in picking a kit design was choosing one that they would want to wear personally and also represented the Denton community.
The deliberate and careful approach to design reflects the background and expertise of the ownership group and sets the club up for success long term. The better the kit and crest design, the more merchandise sales, the more the players enjoy wearing it, and the more the public takes the club seriously. “We know that the club is just as much the kit and crest as it is the players on the pitch. So to that point, we take branding and identity very seriously.”
Serious as an imposing demon with his arms crossed ready to punish the wicked? Apparently so.