City Life

8 things you might not have noticed about the Forward Madison logo

New logo immortalizes part of Madison history

There's quite a bit of symbolism in Forward Madison FC’s logo, designed by local design company Planet Propaganda.

A bright pink flamingo takes center stage on a backdrop that mimics the light blue color of Madison’s city flag. “There’s a lot of pride in the Madison flag, and we really liked the idea of maintaining that palette as much as possible,” says Kevin Longino, creative director at Planet Propaganda.

Longino says this was a rare project for them, as the client had a crowdsourced name. He and his team, including designer Alex Perez and account executive Karmin Arnold, kept coming back to the idea of incorporating the flamingo, Madison’s official bird, into the design.

For those unfamiliar, the plastic pink flamingo came to be a symbol of Madison after legendary campus prankster Leon Varjian led a prank in 1979 that involved planting more than a thousand plastic flamingos on Bascom Hill. The prank later became an annual tradition and fundraiser for UW–Madison.

“We were really excited about it being a really insider thing,” Longino says. It shows off the quirkiness and the pride people have for Madison, he says.

“This is kind of the dream project,” Longino says. “It’s kind of everything you hope for when you get into design.”

Did you catch these 8 elements? 

There are quite a few other symbolic elements of the logo that people might not catch right away:

1. The flamingo is a nod to Madison's official bird. (OK, this was easy if you're familiar with Madison.)
2. Just like the city flag, the white slash in the middle of the logo symbolizes the isthmus
3. The blue on either side represents lakes Mendota and Monona.
4. The Roman numerals represent 608.
5. The four feathers on the bird represent Madison’s four lakes.
6. The 11 rays above the flamingo’s head are a nod to the 11 players on the field.
7. Those rays are also a nod to the Capitol dome.
8. Longino points out that the way “Forward” and “Madison” are aligned at the top and bottom of the logo puts “W” and “I” in the middle when you read straight down.

This article is part of the May 2019 cover story, "50 Things That Give Madison Color." Click here for the full story.

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