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Forward Madison FC is located in Madison, Wisconsin, and plays in the third division of the United States soccer league system, USL League One. As I’m sure you expected, the club’s crest prominently features a flamingo.
Wait, what? A flamingo? Yes, a flamingo, for a soccer team in Madison, Wisconsin. You read that all correctly. And it actually makes a lot more sense than you think.
Forward Madison FC: The only soccer club in the world with its own custom lawn flamingo. 🦩 pic.twitter.com/pEld9rYLvC— Forward Madison FC (@ForwardMSNFC) July 16, 2020
Forward Madison FC & Its Flamingo Identity
Madison is very fond of our flamingo friends, and the city’s love for the bird dates back to 1979. As we wrote about a few weeks ago, a prank by some University of Wisconsin students that year that included more than 1,000 plastic pink flamingos has been fully embraced by Madison over the decades. In 2009, Madison named the plastic pink flamingo as its official bird.
Forty years ago today in 1979, 1,008 plastic pink flamingos greeted students as they walked up Bascom Hill on their first day of classes — and this was all thanks to one of our favorite campus pranksters, Leon Varjian. https://t.co/5C84nzPhQi pic.twitter.com/vE3dmkID0D— UW–Madison (@UWMadison) September 4, 2019
So when Forward Madison FC was founded in 2018, it made sense for the club to keep the flamingo motif going.
“It reminds us that life, especially in Madison, should be fun and a bit irreverent,” Forward Madison FC Managing Director Peter Wilt said in 2018.
Planet Propaganda, a creative firm in downtown Madison, came up with the club’s identity, and it did so with the local area in the forefront of its mind.
“The biggest single reason is everything we’re trying to do here is hyper local,” Forward Madison FC President Vern Stenman said in 2018 of why he went with Planet Propaganda. “Even the branding itself really makes more sense to a Madisonian than it does to anyone else around the country and it was important to have an agency that understands that.”
When it came time to create the crest, Planet Propaganda figured the flamingo would be the perfect representation of Madison.
“We tried to seize on what says Madison and what tells a Madison story,” Planet Propaganda Creative Director Kevin Longino said in 2018. “The quirkiness of that stunt and what the pink flamingo means to Madison, even if you don’t know that and you’re from outside the city, once you hear about that you think, ‘Ah, I can kinda see that.’ I think we liked the idea of that being really ownable to the city.”
It took a few tries before the firm settled on a final product.
“Fierce is a word we used a lot,” Longino explained. “The first version was a lot more sedate, I’d say. It was more self-contained.”
But after some work, they came up with the perfect crest. As a big soccer fan myself and someone who has seen many sports logos over the years, the Forward Madison FC flamingo crest is truly one of the best I’ve ever seen.
The club has fully embraced its flamingo identity, not only with its logo and branding, but also in its kits. In 2019, Forward Madison FC released a limited-edition alternate goalkeeper jersey that made national news for its incredible design. Utilizing a base pink color, the jersey was decorated with small, black flamingo silhouettes and black accents along the neckline and other edges of the shirt. Put bluntly, it’s an absolutely gorgeous kit, and the flamingo flavor just makes it that much better!